English Heritage offers the chance to fire a cannon

English Heritage has launched a crowdfunding campaign, with behind-the-scenes tours of its castles among the rewards available to donors.

The campaign aims to raise £50,000 to carry out repairs, to tackle damage caused to castles by weeds, weather and pollution.

Rewards range from exclusive postcards and prints for a donation of £15, to special tours at castles in Carlisle, Deal, Bolsover and Dover, from £100 upwards.

For a donation of £2,500, there is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to fire a First World War anti-aircraft gun off the walls of Dover Castle (pictured) or Pendennis Castle in Cornwall.

English Heritage said: “Today our castles are under siege once more. Invasive plants, severe weather and pollution are threatening walls that have stood for centuries.

“Without expert conservation our castles could crumble, their stories lost forever and our landscape changed irrevocably.

“We have 66 castles in our care, and as you can imagine, this kind of high-quality specialist work comes at a high cost.”

The charity said £25 covers the cost to remove vegetation from one square metre of wall; £50 pays for three hours of an expert stonemason’s time; and £75 enables half a square metre of stonework to be repointed.

• Groups visiting English Heritage attractions can also enter a prize draw to win a trip, as part of another fundraising campaign. The organisation is asking visitors to make a donation in exchange for a flag at its key sites around the country.

Organisers can take a photograph of group members waving their flags during their visit and send it to English Heritage to be entered into a prize draw for the chance to receive a free visit for a group of 11 to 50 people in 2019.

Photographs should be sent by email to traveltrade@english-heritage.org.uk with ‘Fly the Flag Photo’ in the subject line.

crowdfunder.co.uk/defend-our-castles