Restoration work on Hadlow Tower in Kent set to start

Hadlow Tower Hadlow Tower was used as an observation post by the Home Guard during World War II

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A £4m restoration project is to be carried out on a 19th Century tower in Kent following the transfer of its ownership to a trust.

The Vivat Trust plan to offer the Grade I listed Hadlow Tower as luxury holiday accommodation.

It was transferred to the trust by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, who served a compulsory purchase order on its former owner in 2006.

Campaigners who have fought to save the tower said they were delighted.

Caroline Elcombe, from the Save Hadlow Tower action group, said the tower was now in "safe hands".

She said: "The village of Hadlow will at last see their dream of the full restoration of Hadlow Tower realised."

The tower forms part of Hadlow Castle, most of which is now lost bar the tower itself and the courtyard buildings.

Local landowner Walter Barton May commissioned the Grade I Gothic Revival folly in 1835.

Observation post

It was built by George Ledwell Taylor, who designed parts of the Sheerness and Chatham dockyards.

Experts believe the tower was built as a flamboyant status symbol.

Once its lantern is reinstated, it will be one of the UK's tallest example of a gothic folly at 170ft (51 metres) high.

During World War II, it was used as an observation post by the local Home Guard and Observer Corps.

The tower suffered damage in the 1987 storm and slid into decline.

The project has received support from heritage bodies including £2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Stuart McLeod, the head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the South East, said: "It is a fine example of gothic 19th Century architecture that will now be saved for future generations with access for all."

The Vivat Trust plan to offer the Grade I listed Hadlow Tower as luxury holiday accommodation

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