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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Storm-damaged folly to be saved
Experts say the tower was to improve the landowner's status
Work to save a 19th Century folly with world significance, which was badly damaged in the 1987 storm, has begun.

Abseilers are surveying Hadlow Tower in Tonbridge, Kent, so a funding bid can be put together for repairs.

The World Monuments Fund lists it as one of the world's top 100 endangered buildings of architectural importance.

Experts have dismissed legend that the tower was for the owner to keep an eye on his estranged wife. They say instead it was a flamboyant status symbol.

Local landowner Walter Barton May commissioned the Grade I Gothic Revival folly in 1835.

Obviously, if you are 153m high, you would have an incredible view across the Kent countryside
Frances Lloyd

It was built by George Ledwell Taylor, who designed the Sheerness and Chatham dockyards.

Taylor's previous architectural work included the river wall at Woolwich in south east London, and parts of Hyde Park Square, Gloucester Square and the east side of Trafalgar Square in central London.

Frances Lloyd, director of the Vivat Trust which is a partner in the project, said the important features of the tower included its height, the building materials and the design.

'Incredible views'

She said the costs for the whole restoration would be known by January 2006, which is when a lottery bid would be submitted.

Work would include making the tower available to visitors, she said.

"There would be a museum and people would be able to climb up to the top of the tower.

"Obviously, if you are 153m high, you would have an incredible view across the Kent countryside."

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