Fears over dire state over buildings on Historic England’s At Risk Register

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The crumbling state of historic landmarks has raised fears that some may disappear forever if they are not restored.

Heritage organisation Historic England has warned that some architectural wonders are in a dire need of protection after publishing its annual At Risk Register.

The register includes Pontefract Castle, the former Crown Court in Wakefield and a prehistoric settlement in South Kirkby.

And a Grade II*-listed 17th century water tower at Heath Common has been added to the register for the first time.

Dame Mary Bolles Water Tower, which was part of Heath Old Hall, is classed as being in a “poor” condition in Historic England’s annual report.

The report said: “Some high-level repairs were carried out in 1980s but low-level masonry and interior are in poor condition.”

It is said that Lady Bolles, who owned the Heath estate from 1635 and dabbled in witchcraft, had the tower built above a natural spring which pagans believed to be sacred.

Legend has it that Lady Bolle asked that the room she died in, in 1662, be sealed, but when it was opened up 50 years later her ghost appeared and proceeded to haunt the heath.

Also on the register is Pontefract Castle, a site with a saxon cemetery and historic motte and bailey fortification.

A £3m Lottery grant has been secured to carry out repairs and improve visitor access to the castle.

Elsewhere in Pontefract, underground chambers used by medieval hermits is in a poor condition and is at risk of flooding.

The Hermitage, on Southgate, consists of two stone chambers, one dating back to 1386, with a spiral stair and alter.

Historic England’s report said: “Following completion of a hydrological survey a solution to flooding has been identified and is being implemented.”

In Wakefield, the city’s former crown court, on Northgate, is classed as being in a “very bad” condition by the organisation.

The building, which was built in 1810 in the neo-Greek style, has been in a deteriorating condition since it ceased being a crown court in 1992.

But the report said: “The building has been bought by Wakefield Council for repair and grant for project development has been offered by Historic England.”

Funding from Historic England was also being used to restore a former Malt House at Blacker Hall Farm, in Calder Grove.

Temporary work has been carried out to prevent a further collapse of the roof of the site, and a longer term solution is being sought to protect the malt house.

In South Kirkby, a prehistoric enclosed settlement which is classed as scheduled monument is on the list after becoming overgrown.

The report describes the site as “generally unsatisfactory with major localised problems.”

Around Yorkshire, 704 historic sites are on the risk register.

But Historic England said 43 per cent of Yorkshire sites on its register had been rescued over the past five years, beating the organisation’s 25 per cent target.

Heritage at risk principal Tammy Whitaker said: “This year we are celebrating an amazing achievement in Yorkshire.

“We’d like to thank all the owners, volunteers, local authorities and funding partners that have made this possible.”

But other sites were still in need of help. Ms Whitaker said: “The very things that make our region special, are the things most at risk.

“If they’re lost, then a sense of that region is lost too. Together we can safeguard our most precious places and buildings for future generations.”

Buildings at risk

Crown Court House, Wood Street, Wakefield

Malt House, Blacker Hall Farm, Crigglestone

Pontefract Castle

Church of All Saints, Pontefract

The Hermitage, Pontefract

Church of St Giles, Pontefract

Church of St John, Darrington

Dame Mary Bolles Water Tower, Heath Common

Church of All Saints, Featherstone

Earthwork west of Ferrybridge

Newland Preceptory, Woodhouse Moor, Normanton

Sharlston Common coal and ironstone workings

Site of post-medieval tannery, Felkirk, South Hiendley

Prehistoric enclose settlement known as South Kirkby Camp