Chance to see the repaired Cresswell Pele Tower at event
There is an opportunity to view the work has that been done to save a piece of Northumberland history from its near ruinous state at the weekend.
Thanks to a fund-raising campaign originally launched by Cresswell Parish councillors, an initiative to repair and restore the 14th Century Pele Tower in their village had got underway.
With the help and support of Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT), the villagers formed a Cresswell Pele Tower Charitable Incorporated Organisation to plan and oversee the work needed to safeguard its future.
And the results of their efforts will go on show to the public for the first time at an opening event this Sunday between 10am and 4pm.
The structure is thought to date from around 1380 and may have been built by John Cresswell, whose family gave their name to the village.
In effect, Pele Towers were two or three-storey miniature castles that could be successfully defended from raiders such as Border Reivers.
By the time a relative period of peace had been restored to the Borderlands after the accession to the throne of James 1st in 1603, many of the surviving Pele Towers had been converted, and often extended, into more liveable family accommodation.
Eventually, the village Pele Tower was replaced by a more grand hall as the home of the Cresswell family, which stood until it was demolished in the 1930s.
The Pele Tower remained and even as late as 1954, an Ordnance Survey inspector reported that it was in relatively sound condition. However, it fell into disrepair until it reached the point where it was declared to be on Historic England’s ‘At Risk’ register.
This was how things remained until the villagers got together with GMDT to raise almost £800,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the tower’s repair and restoration. The fund-raising has also been supported by many local individuals and organisations.
Now that has been done with the help and expertise of North Shields-based Historic Property Restoration Ltd.
The thick stonework of the tower walls has been repaired and cleaned, heating and lighting installed, a new roof fitted and space for exhibitions, concerts and talks created on the ground and first floors of the structure.
The tower has been removed from the Historic England ‘At Risk’ register.
“The reaction of the few people who have been able to have a look around the tower has been wonderful,” said Steve Lowe, volunteer co-ordinator and engagement officer for Cresswell Pele Tower.
On Sunday, re-eneactors from the Time Bandits group will be on hand dressed as Border Reivers to add authenticity to the occasion.
From then on, Cresswell Pele Tower will be open to the public every weekend until the end of August, when its opening times will be reviewed. Restricted numbers will be allowed inside the structure at any one time.
Visitors will also be able to tour the grounds surrounding the tower, which have been tidied up and replanted with woodland wildflowers.
Last admission times to the tower will be 3.30pm on the opening Sunday.