Hadlow Tower enthusiast and long-time supporter for its restoration, Jimmy Thirsk, celebrated his 100th birthday on 30th May 2014. Jimmy was stationed at Bletchley Park during the 2nd World War and met his wife Joan there. They moved into part of the remaining Castle buildings in the 1950s. Sadly Joan, an acclaimed agricultural historian, died at the latter part of 2013. Here is Jimmy receiving his telegram from the Queen, which was delivered by post-person Susie Simms.
Hadlow Tower featured in this one-off programme about the restoration of buildings in the south-east (other regions had their own stories to tell).
The programme also visited Sheerness Docks where the architect of Hadlow Tower, George Ledwell Taylor, superintended works as well as designing the neoclassical Royal Dockyard church in 1828.
Hadlow Tower has won an English Heritage Angel Award in the category ‘Best Craftsmanship Employed on a Heritage Rescue’. Not only that, we also won the People’s Award (voted by supporters, English Heritage members and Telegraph readers).
The Awards were founded by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the proceedings took place in the Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus, London on 21 October.
We want to thank all the people who supported us and voted for us, and of course we also want to thank all the people that worked so hard restoring Hadlow’s iconic Tower – the Vivat Trust who took on the project, architects Thomas Ford & Partners, structural engineers The Morton Partnership, TRAD scaffolders, construction company Mansell, sculptor Ivan Cudby who made the clay sculptures from which the decorations were cast, casters The Artificial Stone Company and last, but certainly not least, The PAYE Craftsmen who rendered the building and attached the decorative elements.
After some initial teething problems the Tower opened for the first time in June 2013 and by the time it closed in September 1450 people had toured the exhibition area and holiday accommodation, and climbed the stairs to the 130ft high viewing platform to admire the landscape.
The weathervane has been installed, and the roof to the ‘lantern’ finished, the topmost scaffolding is being removed. The tail of the weathervane has the letters VT cut into it for the Vivat Trust (who now own the Tower), although in the photo it reads TV as the wind is coming from the south-west. The ornamental metalwork below the vane is based upon photographic evidence from the early 1900s.
This is the first time the topmost pinnacles have been seen for 18 years since the lantern was removed for safety reasons in 1994, even then the pinnacles were replacements made of fibreglass after the originals had become unstable.
A successful Education Day with pupils and staff from Hadlow Primary School and input from SHTAG Committee members, was held on site on 12 July 2011. Organised by the contractors Mansell, the children learnt about the history of Hadlow Castle, how the Tower was being reconstructed and restored; watched, and participated in, bricklaying and learnt how the new decoration will be made from moulds taken from the old.
All the children were later presented with plaques depicting the Tower, which had been cast in Roman Cement.