Finishing touches to beacon tower restoration work completed at Burton Dassett Hills Country Park

It has been a Grade II listed building since 1952.
The final two pieces of restoration work have been completed to the historic 15th century beacon tower in Warwickshire County Council’s Burton Dassett Hills Country Park. Photo supplied by Warwickshire County CouncilThe final two pieces of restoration work have been completed to the historic 15th century beacon tower in Warwickshire County Council’s Burton Dassett Hills Country Park. Photo supplied by Warwickshire County Council
The final two pieces of restoration work have been completed to the historic 15th century beacon tower in Warwickshire County Council’s Burton Dassett Hills Country Park. Photo supplied by Warwickshire County Council

The final two pieces of restoration work have been completed to the historic 15th century beacon tower in Burton Dassett Hills Country Park.

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The beacon tower is one of only two historical monuments in the county to be managed by Warwickshire County Council (the other being Chesterton Windmill), and since 1952 has been a Grade II listed building.

The project team also refined the bat slot installed above the doorway lintel following the advice of Historic England.  Photo supplied by Warwickshire County CouncilThe project team also refined the bat slot installed above the doorway lintel following the advice of Historic England.  Photo supplied by Warwickshire County Council
The project team also refined the bat slot installed above the doorway lintel following the advice of Historic England. Photo supplied by Warwickshire County Council
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It was likely built by Lord of the Manor Sir Edward Belknap in the late 15th century, and there are three main theories as to its original use:

~ A beacon to pass important fire signals to other beacons in the surrounding area

~ A windmill/tower mill, or a look-out tower

~ A Warrener’s lodge, the home of a man who protected the local rabbit population from poachers, as rabbits were valuable in medieval times for their meat and fur.

A significant conservation project to the beacon tower was completed in spring 2022, and this year the county council has worked with Donald Insall, Croft Building and Conservation, and Chana Projects to review the beacon tower and add the finishing touches to its restoration.

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During the conservation project a lime render was applied to the exterior dome shaped roof.

This was left to allow for carbonation to occur before the final coat of lime wash could be applied this year.

The carbonation process, which allows for the setting of the render, was essential to better protect the roof from the elements and ensure it is watertight, whilst restoring it as sympathetically as possible to its original state.

The project team also refined the bat slot installed above the doorway lintel following the advice of Historic England.

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The doorway to the tower was sealed last year with a thin layer of stone in order to protect the interior and create a safe roosting space for bats.

Cllr Heather Timms, portfolio holder for environment, climate and culture, said: “The beacon tower is a small but important part of Warwickshire’s history, and I am delighted to see the amount of care that has been taken throughout the project to restore the tower as sympathetically as possible back to its original state.”

“By ensuring the roof is watertight and refining the access for bats within this historic structure, we not only preserve a great focal point to educate and inform visitors about the Burton Dassett Hills, but demonstrate our ongoing commitment to encourage biodiversity and protect the diverse range of species that call Warwickshire’s countryside home.”