Fund-raising drive for the Edgar Tower

A FUND-RAISING drive to restore the Edgar Tower, in the cathedral precinct, will need to find over £200,000, during the next two years.

One idea is to encourage greater public involvement in the major restoration project, which will start this autumn, and donations will be welcomed.

Some of the stonework has been seriously eroded by time and the elements.

But the ball has been set rolling with a £69,500 grant from the Fabric Commission for England, but with the final bill likely to top £300,000, much more will need to be put into the coffers.

Worcester Cathedral's head of fundraising, Nick Drew said: "From this autumn, our stonemasons will be concentrating on repairs to the tower, in a project which will cost £300,000 over two years. We have received the grant of £69,500, as well as a number of other smaller grants, but this still leaves us some way short of the total we need.

"Fundraising is continuing, and we’re developing plans for greater public involvement in the campaign."

Mr Drew added: "Edgar Tower is one of the most under-estimated parts of the cathedral precinct, yet it is a vital part of the life and heritage of the place, and has a fascinating history.

The gateway – the main entrance to the south side of the cathedral precinct – has been variously called “St Mary’s Gate” and “the Great Gate” over the years, but was first called Edgar Tower in the 18th century, after Edgar, King of England 959-975AD, in whose reign it was thought to have been originally erected.

"In fact, the first stone gatehouse there was reputedly commissioned by King John in 1204. The current gateway was built in 1346-7 at a cost of £47 18s 11d – equivalent to £25,000 in today’s money, which to my mind constitutes a bargain."

According to research by Cathedral Library Assistant, Deirdre McKeown, the tower has served many purposes over the years – such as a bulwark against unruly mobs, a prison, and a schoolroom, up to the present day.

Rooms in the tower are still used by the King's School, - making them some of the oldest schoolrooms in continuous use in Europe.

But the tower also has a more war-like past.

During the Civil War, in the seventeenth century, a small brass cannon is supposed to have been stationed on the tower's roof, and there are "murder holes" tower, when boiling oil could be poured down on any attackers.

Anyone wishing to make a donation towards restoration costs, or wishing to join Worcester Cathedral’s Guild of Benefactors, should contact Mr Drew on 01905 732912.

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