If you’ve ever stood atop a windswept hill and gazed at the vast expanse of Northumberland’s countryside, chances are you’ve seen a few of its distinctive Pele towers. These sturdy stone structures are a reminder of Northumberland’s centuries-old history and have been designed to withstand long periods of hardship and conflict.
Since the 18th century, these towers have become a symbol of Northumberland’s historic architecture, but their numbers have sadly diminished in recent years. For this reason, conservationists have been working hard to ensure that the remaining Pele towers are maintained in their original state and given the protection they deserve.
In this article, we’ll look at the role of conservation in restoring these iconic structures and explore why it’s so important to preserve them for future generations.
What Are Pele Towers?
Have you heard of the mysterious Pele Towers dotting the landscape of Northumberland? You may have seen them while out walking in this peaceful part of Northern England, with their tall four-walled structures standing proud against the skyline. These are Pele Towers—fortified towers—dating as far back as the 14th century.
Pele Towers were built to protect their inhabitants from raiders and marauders and are a physical reminder of Northumberland’s turbulent history. The walls were thick and robust enough to withstand severe attack and could be used as a refuge by families from all classes during the conflict.
These days, the towers are respected for their conservation value and offer a glimpse into Northumberland’s past. Restoring them is about saving history for future generations and protecting our wildlife and natural environment in this unique part of the world.
The History of Pele Towers
Do you know what Pele Towers are? They are a class of fortified structures found in Northumberland, England, and they have an exciting history.
Pele towers typically served as residences for the nobility, although they often had military applications. They were common during the Middle Ages and up until the 17th century, when other defense methods superseded them.
These towers were commonly constructed with rubble and smaller stones, although some examples featured more uniform masonry work. The walls were thick enough to make it difficult for attackers to breach them, with windows often only at the top floor or higher. Many of these fortresses were equipped with arrow or musket loops for defending against attackers.
Most Pele Towers fell into disuse in the 18th century, but their legacy still stands in some regions of Northumberland today. Conservation efforts are underway to ensure that their remains evolve instead of decaying away. Still, the outlook is uncertain, considering their advanced age and the cost associated with these efforts.
Uses of the Pele Towers in Northumberland
Northumberland’s Pele Towers have hosted numerous functions throughout history. From the 14th to 19th centuries, the towers served as a refuge for local communities and had a variety of other uses.
Refuge for Communities
The towers served as places of safety during times of internal disturbance or wars between England and Scotland. During raids, the surrounding area could flee to the building and use it as a time to hide from their enemies until hostilities ended. The thick walls provided significant protection from trespassers and unwelcome guests.
Places of Worship
Pele Towers also acted as places of worship. Parishioners had access to small chapels where they could practice their faith when traveling long distances to attend church was difficult or impossible. The chapels were typically located on the first floor – above ground level – and were easily accessible by an external staircase leading up to them.
Although they were built at different times, most Pele Towers were used as residential buildings at some point during their long histories. Nobles and members of wealthy families chose these grand structures as homes – taking over much or all of its floors with elaborate furniture and expensive decorations, while ordinary people lived in simpler dwellings on the first storey or within attached annexes.
How the Towers Have Been Preserved Over Generations
The preservation of Pele Towers has been a tremendous undertaking in Northumberland, as these ancient structures have been around for centuries. While it may be difficult to understand how these towers have survived for so long, conservation efforts have played an enormous role in their preservation.
Conservation Measures for Pele Towers
The importance of conserving Pele towers in Northumberland is evident throughout the region, with many local organizations and groups engaging in activities such as archeological excavations and stone repairs.
In addition to these efforts, the Pele Towers Preservation Trust works to safeguard the significant heritage of these incredible buildings by providing grants for restoration work and promoting public awareness.
Many of Northumberland’s Pele towers are now open to the public, allowing tourists and locals to explore some of the oldest buildings in Britain. Visiting the sites will enable visitors to learn how the towers are maintained and protected daily—from keeping vegetation down to regular inspections.
In addition to conservation measures like those mentioned above, Pele towers are regularly monitored by professional historians who hold workshops and research sessions with local communities. Through this collaboration, they share what they’ve learned over generations about preserving these remarkable structures that beautifully capture Britain’s history.
Challenges in Restoring Pele Towers in Northumberland
Regarding restoring Pele Towers in Northumberland, some challenges need to be addressed. As these towers are ancient structures and historic landmarks, conservationists need to consider preserving their integrity and ensuring they remain safe and accessible.
The most pressing issue is the deteriorating structure of some Pele Towers due to neglect and natural decay. Without proper maintenance and regular upkeep, these towers become weaker and more susceptible to weather damage, making them unsafe for visitors. Thus, effective conservation strategies must be implemented to prevent further erosion while preserving the structure’s original form.
One of the significant challenges facing restoration projects is access to adequate funding. Without sufficient funds, projects are either delayed or may even be canceled altogether, leaving some Pele Towers in disrepair for longer than necessary. Conservation groups must strive to secure the resources needed before any meaningful progress can be seen.
Ultimately, restoring Pele Towers in Northumberland requires much effort and commitment from local authorities and conservationists alike. Through cooperative efforts like fundraising campaigns and advocacy initiatives, appropriate resources can be secured and managed so that these iconic landmarks can continue to exist for generations: both as symbols of history and as meaningful contributions to the region’s cultural identity.
The Use of Cast Iron Gutters and Pipes for Conservation
As part of the conservation, many Pele Towers have benefitted from using cast iron gutters and pipes to help prevent water damage. When first constructed, these buildings would not have had any gutters; however, due to how we use structures today, this would form part of the conservation of the building. Cast Iron is the most suitable choice, as it can withstand wear and tear for centuries – perfect for a heritage building that needs to last. Plus, it also helps to preserve plastered walls and door frames, as well as stone or brick masonry.
Preservation of Historic Craftsmanship
Cast iron gutters and pipes also preserve historic craftsmanship – ensuring that any repurposing is done with care. For example, if new drainage needs to be installed in a Pele Tower, you’ll want to ensure that whatever is used fits in with the period and doesn’t impact the look or design of the building.
Installing something like cast iron guttering is also relatively affordable compared to other materials with similar longevity. And if done right, it can help bring back old buildings to their former glory – not only preventing water damage but also preserving their unique charm that draws so many people in!
Pele Towers - Defending History
Ultimately, Pele Towers are part of Northumberland’s unique heritage, and their preservation and conservation are essential components of its identity and history. The goal of preserving, repairing, and enhancing these impressive towers is achievable by combining traditional and new approaches to restoring these structures.
To assist in the preservation of Pele Towers, Northumberland’s Building Conservation team is working hard to ensure that the most appropriate materials and techniques are being used, as well as a holistic approach to the repair and restoration process. By understanding the history of the Pele Towers, their use, and the importance of conservation, we can collectively strive towards maintaining them for many years to come.
Cast Iron Guttering and Pipes in Northumberland
Since 1893 Tuscan Foundry has been supplying cast iron guttering and pipes to Northumberland and throughout the UK, Europe, and further afield, our specialist casting department can manufacture radius gutters for Pele Towers and turrets, along with cast iron pipes, drainage gratings, and vents.