Education - Cream teas/lunches - Tours (Coming Soon)
When the Forge family purchased the scheduled ancient monument in November 1996 it was listed on the English Heritage ‘Buildings at Risk’ register. The Forge family considered their ownership of the property to be a challenge to preserve the remains of the ruins for future generations to enjoy and also to encourage others to be aware of and appreciate its historical importance.
The layout of the castle in the 16th Century (left), and how it looks now:
Very early on, the magnitude of the challenge was realised. The family’s background in civil engineering was useful but they needed to seek guidance on the preservation of such ancient stonework and it was soon apparent that financial help would also be needed. English Heritage was already aware of the dire condition of Westenhanger and since 1997 has helped with financial assistance to repair and restore the stonework over eight phased stages of work. All the work has been carried out to a high standard and was done with the advice and supervision of an Architect, English Heritage Inspector and Archaeologist.
Phase 1 (September 1997 – February 1998)
South West Tower and Curtain Wall
Recording and consolidating loose stonework, underpinning and capping walls.
Phase 2 (October 1997 – February 1998)
Removing large growths of ivy. Recording, pointing and rebuilding loose masonry. Restoring gaps on the south facing wall. Cutting and inserting missing stones to the arrow loops and door openings.
Phase 3 (July 1999 – May 2000)
West Range Wall and North West Tower
Recording and consolidating curtain wall stone and brickwork around inserted features. Careful restoration of the two Tudor fire hearths. Recording, dismantling and rebuilding fragile masonry in the North West Tower and garderobe chute.
Phase 4 (June 200 – March 2001)
North Curtain Wall, East Side
Recording, dismantling and rebuilding the dangerous leaning stonework down to moat level. Excavation for working space beside the wall provided the only opportunity to date, for below-ground archaeology. Many findings of pottery, carved stone glass and bellarmine jars were found and are being stored for future display. All items date from the 13th to 18th Centuries.
Phase 5 (July 2001 – February 2002)
A seven-lift scaffold with a temporary tin roof over the tower allowed access to remove the 16th century roof tiles and oak rafters. All original materials were replaced in their exact location, but strengthened by hidden oak overlays. A replica cupola was installed to replace this original feature, which was lost some time after it was shown on the lithograph of 1784. Dendrochronology of the timber dated it to 1560. All the stonework has been chased out in the joints and repointed with lime mortar.
Phase 6 (March 2002 – June 2002)
Recording and consilidating all the standing stone and brickwork around the door and window openings. Replacement of a short length of carved stone plinth. Capping of the wallheads to prevent water penetration.
Phase 7 (November 2002 – February 2003)
East Curtain Wall below moat level
Recording and consolidating the stone work on the battered section of wall below the moat water level. Chasing out the joints and re-pointing with lime mortar.
Phase 8 (November 2002 – February 2003)
East curtain wall above moat level
Recording and consolidating the stone work on the battered section of wall above the moat water level. Chasing out the joints and re-pointing with lime mortar.
Phase 9 (January 2003 to xx)
Preparation of main barn and ground around for conservation.
Masses of ivy removed to prevent further damage to the walls and temporary roof covering. Edwardian stables made from timber and corrugated iron sheets taken down. Erect large scaffold structure with tin roof prior to conservation of internal hammerbeam roof.