SUPPORTERS of Hartlebury Castle are preparing for another fight to save the historic building.

Trustees say the grade II listed castle will have to remain closed for longer than they expected, as the coronavirus lockdown continues, meaning the attraction must find a way to pay bills while generating no income.

A trust spokesman said: "The trust relies on income from admission fees, events, room hires and the shop and cafe. Whilst closed, that income has dropped to zero, but there are still fixed costs and bills to pay.

Ledbury Reporter: A food and drink festival at Hartlebury CastleA food and drink festival at Hartlebury Castle

"Coronavirus could not have hit at a worse time. Over the spring and early summer with their bank holidays and school holidays, there were dozens of exciting events, workshops and tours planned. All these have had to be cancelled and vital income lost.

"Although the trust hopes to be able to open the grounds and gardens very soon, it is clear that the castle will remain closed for longer than originally expected.

"Even when it can reopen, there may be limits on the numbers of visitors at events and other operational changes to keep visitors, volunteers and staff safe.

"This devastating loss of income poses a real threat to the survival of the castle."

Home to the Bishops of Worcester for over 1,000 years, Hartlebury Castle has already been saved once by local supporters who in 2007 came together to form a Preservation Trust in response to plans to sell the site for development.

With a £5m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the trust bought the castle and its grounds and, in 2018, opened it as a visitor attraction.

Since then, the castle has attracted over 20,000 visitors a year from all over the world - until it was forced to closed its gates in March in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Jane Finch, trustee, said: “So many people have worked incredibly hard to save the site from development and open it as a wonderful visitor attraction.

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"Hartlebury Castle has been recognised by Visit England as a Hidden Gem. Please help us to ensure it doesn’t become a lost gem."

A fundraising campaign has been launched by trustees in an effort to raise £10,000 to save the castle.

Jane Finch, trustee, said: “So many people have worked incredibly hard to save the site from development and open it as a wonderful visitor attraction.

"Hartlebury Castle has been recognised by Visit England as a Hidden Gem. Please help us to ensure it doesn’t become a lost gem."

Visit crowdfunder.co.uk/help-hartlebury-castle-survive-coronavirus-1 to donate.