Conservation work has finished to repair the historic 15th century beacon tower located within Warwickshire County Council’s Burton Dassett Hills Country Park.
Conservation work has finished to repair the historic 15th century beacon tower located within Warwickshire County Council’s Burton Dassett Hills Country Park, following delays to the project in 2021 after bats were identified to be hibernating inside the tower’s domed roof.
The beacon tower is one of only two historical monuments in the county to be managed by Warwickshire County Council (the other being Chesterton windmill), and since 1952 has been a Grade II listed building. Over the past nine months the project has seen the tower restored as sympathetically as possible back to its original state in order to be enjoyed once again by the people of Warwickshire.
Cllr Heather Timms, portfolio holder for Environment, Climate and Culture, said:
“The 15th century beacon tower at Burton Dassett Hills is a small but important part of Warwickshire’s history, and a great focal point to educate and inform visitors about the surrounding 100-acre site, which has been a country park since 1971 and includes ironstone quarry remains from the late 19th century and a nearby 12th Century All Saints Church.
“As warmer spring weather is fast approaching, now is a great time to visit the Burton Dassett Hills to see the beacon tower restored to its former glory, and with fantastic views across Stratford-on-Avon District it will continue to stand tall to be enjoyed by the people of Warwickshire for now and future generations.”
The beacon in the Burton Dassett Hills was likely built by Lord of the Manor Sir Edward Belknap in the late 15th century, and there are three main theories as to its original use:
- A beacon to pass important fire signals to other beacons in the surrounding area
- A windmill/tower mill, or a look-out tower
- A Warrener’s lodge, the home of a man who protected the local rabbit population from poachers, as rabbits were valuable in medieval times for their meat and fur.
Martin Lewis, Property Services - Service Manager of this conservation project, said:
“A lot of time and care has been taken throughout the project to restore the beacon tower as sympathetically as possible back to its original state. This has included fixing erosion on the Southeast side of the tower from long-term wind impact, repairing cracks and removing unstable bulges in the walls, to replacing non-breathable mortar with a new mortar that is more appropriate and also more in keeping with the colour and texture of the stone.
“The team have also worked incredibly hard to restore the domed roof of the tower, applying a new limed-based render capping to the dome and ensuring it is watertight. The entranceway to the tower has been filled in with stone to protect its interior, however a gap has been purposely left above the doorway lintel so that bats can continue to roost inside the tower for years to come.
“We are delighted that this project is finally complete, and it has been a great moment to remove the scaffolding and fencing from the site so that the general public can once again enjoy this wonderful piece of Warwickshire’s history.”
In April 2021, planned conservation work to the beacon tower was delayed due to the confirmed presence of two brown long-eared bats found hibernating inside the tower’s domed roof. All species of bats, including their breeding sites and resting places, are fully protected by law. This meant that repair work had to wait until the bats had left the tower of their own accord, with the project finally proceeding in June 2021 and taking approximately nine months to complete.
For more information about Burton Dassett Hills County Park, visit https://countryparks.warwickshire.gov.uk/burtondassett