After purchasing the castle in 2002, the Parslows have found that owning a castle is a daunting experience especially once architects, engineers, archaeologists, the council and English Heritage are involved. They realised that they had custody of a castle with walls that were collapsing, towers that were splitting apart and rotten timbers supporting the floors. The Parslows were unable to live in the house before it was completely renovated.
The renovation task was enormous and because the Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument all repairs have to be authorised. The law states that if you own a property like this you can let it collapse but any repairs have to be authorised by the Secretary of State. English Heritage were given responsibility for the work and, because of the Castle's importance, they were prepared to pay for half of the costs. On this basis a programme of repair and restoration was devised by architects, engineers and archeologists which English Heritage then had to approve.
Over the centuries stones had been stripped from the Castle for use in other buildings and gardens, trees and ivy had pushed out stones, plant growth had dislodged the tops of the walls along with the weather causing damage. The original builders hadn't incorporated any foundations under the walls so subsidence and the possibility of the walls collapsing was a real risk.
The aim was to use existing stones to repair the holes and collapses wherever possible but new stone from nearby quarries had to be purchased, dressed and the walls rebuilt using lime mortars. In order to ensure that the walls maintained their integrity, modern materials including stainless steel, grouts and resins were inserted into the walls to stitch the stones together, walls have been underpinned with concrete foundations and the towers restored to the original state when built by putting back floors and roofs on them. This reflected English Heritage's new approach to restoration which is to repair structures so they can be made use of rather than just viewed.
During the renovation of the house and oppertunity was taken to design and create new rooms and features. They did most of the work themselves and gratefully received help and advice without which the Castle would never have been repaired. The gardens are just coming to fruition after spending several years creating new gardens around the rampart walls and old Manor House ruins, coupled with Knot gardens and topiary along with Mediaeval gardens.
The Parslows never realised the extent of the venture that they took on only now they live in the kind of property that most people only dream of.
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