Bats made a priority as fake castle is restored

Dave Higgens
Tuesday 16 March 2021 14:16
Ecologist Robert Bell installing a bat box in the grounds of Stainborough Castle, an 18th-century folly at Wentworth Castle (Danny Lawson/PA)(PA Wire)

Conservation work on an 18th century fake castle is being coordinated in partnership with its residents bats.

Work began earlier this year on restoring the turret of the Grade II listed Stainborough Castle in Wentworth Castle Gardens, near Barnsley South Yorkshire.

The National Trust, which cares for the site jointly with Barnsley Council, says the work is being carefully co-ordinated to minimise the impact on the castle’s resident colony of bats.

Specialist bat boxes are being erected for the four residing species and a dedicated ecologist is at the castle each day to ensure the creatures are not disturbed.

A brown long-eared bat (National Trust Images/Bat Conservation Trust/Hugh Clark/PA)(PA Media)

Robert Bell, principal ecologist advising the project said: “Stainborough Castle is used by bats all year round.

“There are four species using resting places (roosts) within the castle, comprising of the brown long-eared bat, noctule, common pipistrelle and Natterer’s bat.

“The castle surroundings offer an abundance of eating options and offer the bats lots of different dark and dry places to rest up within.

“We are timing works so the brown long-eared bats are not disturbed in their maternity roost locations.

“All bat resting places within the castle will either be kept or re-created.

“We are going to great lengths with the hope that we will protect all the features that make the castle great for bats long into the future.”

Ecologist Robert Bell installing a bat box (Danny Lawson/PA)(PA Wire)

The work on the castle, which is funded by Barnsley Council, is part of a programme of works to improve the condition of the site, as part of the National Trust’s 25-year partnership lease with the council.

Work is expected to last around five months.

Stainborough Castle is a fake castle built by Thomas Wentworth in 1708 to impress his friends and visitors following a feud with family members at the nearby stately home, Wentworth Woodhouse.

It was built to give the impression that it had been in his family for generations, rather than a new addition at the time.

Only one half of the castle front still stands as the other turret was lost when the estate fell into disrepair at the turn of the last century.