We started as a group of residents wanting to save an unloved building, Cresswell Pele Tower, from total ruin. Long forgotten, it had been a victim of vandalism and neglect. Lacking a roof, it was open to the elements and falling down.
This Scheduled Ancient Monument was listed "at-risk" but has now been fully restored and is open to the public for the first time, along with its wooded setting.
Archaeological digs revealed further information including an earlier 11th-century building and a later 18th century Manor House, as well as bronze-age remains, showing a long occupancy of the area.
Managed fully by volunteers, we took out a long-term lease in order to complete the restoration. At the last minute, this was extended to include a derelict walled garden, one of three previously supplying Cresswell Hall with fresh food.
The overall aim is to bring this later but important area into public greenspace, based upon plans agreed with community input. Having a multi-purpose, safe and accessible space available for individuals, groups and families will complement the tower and provide a space where people and wildlife can co-exist.
Our starting place is to recreate the orchard we know from records, was here but to give it a little twist by using some of the trees that would have been commonplace in the period when the tower was in use. Medlar and mulberry, quince & greengages will play host to beehives and actively pollinate the trees and the other plants, including vegetables, that will adorn the rediscovered garden pathways and borders.
A partnership with local beekeepers, will allow us to share skills with anyone who wants to participate in this truly sustainable activity. Production of honey and other resources will contribute to future growth.
The Walled Garden has many aspects for interpretation and learning. It offers a tranquil, safe and colourful space, perfect for combating the pressures of daily life.
We want this to be a place people think of as an extension to their own local space and take a special pride in it.