Core sampling of the Wellington Monument’s crumbling masonry has been going on this week and this Saturday the National Trust is holding an Open Day at the site. Staff will be available to explain the work and discuss how the project to restore the Monument is progressing.
The works, which also include drilling samples from the foundations, will allow the National Trust to better understand the extent of holes within the structure that can act as channels for water to run down, and the use of different materials throughout the obelisk.
Ken Evans, National Trust Building Surveyor, will be on hand to talk to visitors. Ken says: ‘Taking and analysing these samples is the really important final part of the survey work that we’ve been undertaking over the past 18 months.
“Following the work to date, we estimate that a full repair to conserve the Monument would cost £4 million, but this figure is subject to findings from the samples. If more problems are revealed this could considerably raise the costs and put the project at risk.’
The majority of the £4m project costs need to be raised from external sources and a large application is planned to be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund this December. If this can be secured, a campaign will be launched locally to raise the additional funds required.
Helen Sharp, Project Manager, says: ‘The Monument is extremely important as the tallest three-sided obelisk in the world and it is this significance in addition to the affection that local people hold for it that is driving us to work hard with the community to raise the funding needed.
‘If we can raise the money it would safeguard the Monument for the next 60 years and enable people to climb to the top again – which would be just amazing. We’d also like more people to be able to enjoy the site generally and would share more of its history in addition to organising a series of activities and events with the community and making it more accessible to everyone – including people with disabilities.’
The Monument was built to commemorate the Duke of Wellington’s victory after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The foundation stone was laid in 1817 but the work was dogged by problems and lack of funding – it was finally completed in its current form in the 1890s.
The Monument will be illuminated again on 2 December to celebrate the festive season with an evening of carols in association with the Blackdown Hills AONB and with singing from the Smeatharpe WI and Blackdown Community Choir.