‘The main tower, of exquisite workmanship, and of great and imposing height, rears itself proudly above the surrounding country and may be seen on all sides at many miles distance.’ Burke’s Visitation of Seats and Arms 1852
THE CAMPAIGN to save Hadlow’s iconic Grade 1* Listed Tower was started by the local village community who were concerned about the obvious decay of the 19th century Romantic Gothic folly.
Following a series of public meetings the Save Hadlow Tower Action Group (SHTAG) was formed.
Our objectives were:
- to preserve for the people of Kent and for the nation, the historical, architectural and constructional heritage that exists in and around Hadlow Tower;
- to promote the restoration and long term protection and maintenance of Hadlow Tower;
- to support Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, together with English Heritage, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and others, in seeking long term solutions for the future of this building;
- to raise funds to assist in meeting the costs of the restoration of Hadlow Tower;
- to provide technical, promotional and administrative support where appropriate to the preservation efforts.
FUNDING After a successful bid for Lottery funding by the Borough Council, backed by 1000 signature in a public petition, the next task was to find a suitable Building Preservation Trust willing to take on the restoration of the Tower. In due course the Vivat Trust agreed to commit to its biggest project to date, and a scheme to offer high quality holiday accommodation in conjunction with public access (a condition of Lottery funding) was devised. Other donations include those from English Heritage, the Architectural Heritage Fund, Kent County Council and the Country Houses Foundation.
Although the Tower was built for ostentation not habitation, it had been partly converted for residential use in the mid 1970s, so it was necessary to acquire the building through Compulsory Purchase before any funding could be taken up and restoration and refurbishment work started.
VISITOR CENTRE Although the Vivat Trust owns and has restored the building SHTAG designed the Visitor Centre at the base of the Folly, which is open to the public 28 days a year. (Please click on Visiting Hadlow Tower above for more information). Together with our supportive members we raised over £50,000 for our part in this exciting project.
HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION Because of the Tower’s singular structure the rooms are on several levels, reached by two integral spiral staircases and a newly installed lift in one of the buttresses, each octagonal room having several unique views. The Vivat Trust has given the blank canvas of the interior its own individual look.