Last year, the Tower did not open at all. The charity which manages it on behalf of English Heritage made the decision as early as March 2020 that there was no point in scheduling an opening. The Tower is normally open from April to October, so it was prescient to realise that there was little likelihood of things being back to normal by October.
In June 2020, all volunteers received an email from the same charity, basically throwing its hands in the air and giving up. This was quite early in the pandemic, a bare three months in. The charity’s entire portfolio, which includes the city’s libraries, theatre, gyms, museum and other heritage attractions, would revert back to the City Council’s management.
To their enormous credit, the Council have not thrown their hands up in despair (despite years of austerity budgets), but have taken the ball and run with it. The libraries have continued to function throughout, even opening physically for a brief period. The bins continue to be collected, the verges mown, and even trees cut down. (I don’t approve of the latter, and have complained numerous times,but apparently if a tree is diseased it has to be chopped).
We volunteers received an email some months ago asking if we would continue under the new management. I’ve heard nothing since.
I pass the Tower often on my daily walks. I always spend a few seconds fondly gazing up at it.
The magic of first entering after the winter closed season never failed to thrill me. To set foot in this ancient, unspoiled place. To walk up the winding stair, up which villagers from 700 years ago had stepped, to feel those stones under my feet, connecting with the people from the past. Wonderful.
Here’s the stair to the turret at the top. Members of the public are not allowed up here, but volunteers are conducted up to look at the view from the battlements. Incredible to see the village, which from the ground looks like a 1980’s suburb, spread out far below. There are more trees than you think. Trees are a subject close to my heart, as you might have gathered by now. More on that topic another time.