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Defender of the Elizabethan fleet restored

Date: 19/05/2008           Category: Tourism

Upnor Castle is benefiting from £250,000 for a conservation project by English Heritage and Medway Council. The grant will help to fund repairs to the castle’s towers, which originally provided accommodation for the gunners protecting Queen Elizabeth’s naval fleet anchored in the Medway. A condition survey highlighted the most important conservation work needed to preserve this historic site near Rochester. Initial repairs were carried out at the start of the year including work on the roofs, gutters and brickwork. Whilst the scaffolding was up an opportunity was also taken to repair and paint the windows. Specialist contractor Paye carried out the work, using only appropriate traditional materials such as lime mortar and paint. At the moment, specialist stone contractor Universal Stone is carrying out repairs to the river walls of the castle including the water bastion. The bastion is a very unusual design and is one of the oldest in the country. It is part of the original castle built in 1559 and is made of ragstone. The river’s tides add to the complexity of repairing the river walls. After experiments with various materials, a suitable lime mortar that would set sufficiently before it could be damaged by incoming tides has been chosen. Voids in the stonework are also being grouted and some stonework has been tied back with ties to make it secure. This is the second part of a series of conservation works to Medway’s heritage sites, which has included Rochester Castle and Temple Manor. The partnership between English Heritage and Medway Council has enabled vital conservation work to be carried out on these important historic monuments. Portfolio Holder for Community Services Cllr Howard Doe said: “Our heritage needs to be protected and I am delighted that the work we are carrying out with English Heritage is enabling us to do that.’’ Karen Richardson, English Heritage’s Estates Surveyor for the south-east, said: “Upnor Castle made an enormous contribution to British history, protecting our naval forces against invasion. After nearly 450 years it is time for us to repay that debt and we are delighted to be able to fund these essential repairs”. ends