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24 February 2011, 11:13
A £4million restoration project to save the historic Hadlow Tower near Tonbridge has been unveiled.
The tower's been taken over by the Vivat Trust which will oversee work on the 172 year old gothic folly and turn it into luxury holiday accomodation.
The ground floor of the tower will be used as exhibition space where the history of the building and its significance will be explained. The space will be opened to the public on a regular basis and is the initiative of the SAVE Hadlow Tower Action Group.
The 170 foot tall Victoria Gothic tower, known locally as May's Folly, has been on English Heritage's at risk register for several years, and in 1998 joined the World Monument Fund's list of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World.
It was built by local land owner Walter Barton May in around 1835, as an add on to Hadlow Castle which was built by his father 40 years before. During World War Two it was used as an observation post by the local Home Guard and Observer Corps. The main buildings of the castle were demolished in 1951 but the tower was saved. It was badly damaged several years later in the Great Storm of 1987.
Vivat Director, Laura Norris says, "We are delighted that the building will be saved and that that once restored, the building will be enjoyed by a wide range of visitors. It will be a landmark that the local community can be proud of once again. "
The project has received the support of major heritage bodies and funders, including £2million from the Heritage Lottery Fund with further funding from English Heritage, the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Country Houses Foundation and the Monument Trust, amongst others.