The castles of England have survived sieges and bombardments, attacking armies and countless wars – but today, says conservation charity English Heritage, castles like Beeston are under threat from their own natural surroundings.
This includes threats from invasive weed species, penetrating damp and severe weather.
English Heritage looks after 66 castles across England (more than any other organisation in the UK) and this year will spend almost £2m on wall repairs, including removing deep-rooted weeds such as ivy and valerian.
As part of its #LoveCastles season this summer, the charity is running a crowdfunding appeal in support of its castles and is calling on the public to help protect the stone landmarks for future generations to enjoy.
English Heritage is aiming to raise £50,000 via its castles crowdfunding appeal.
Kate Mavor, English Heritage’s chief executive, said: “So far this summer we’ve seen more people than ever visit the castles in our care.
“But if these fortresses are to survive for future generations to enjoy, we need people’s help to defend them today – not from sieges or cannon balls but from weeds and damp, the wind and the rain.”
Throughout the year, experts will be undertaking urgent conservation work at English Heritage castles across the country.
At some castles, this involves removing extensive ivy, shrubs and sometimes even trees whose roots are growing into the castle walls.
Once that work has been done, the castle walls need to be repaired and this can involve re-bedding the loose masonry before using bespoke lime mortars to repoint the joints that have been forced open by strong roots.
In some cases they will have to replace eroded stones to strengthen weakened walls.
This highly-skilled conservation comes, of course, at a cost.
Since English Heritage became a charity in 2015, it has had to rely more and more on the support of its members, visitors, and each castle’s local community.
Now its calling for additional support to help save Beeston Castle and others across the country.
To donate, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/defend-our-castles.
In return, supporters will receive rewards for their generosity (including private tours of Beeston Castle).
Examples of how the money will be spent include:
· £25 – one square metre of invasive vegetation to be expertly removed
· £50 – three hours of the skilled stonemasonry needed to conserve the walls
· £75 – half a square metre of stonework to be repointed with bespoke lime mortars