I HAVE long believed that stories can help us have a sense of place.

They can be our own stories, of course, rooted in memory and personal experiences. But other stories can entwine with our own to weave a powerful sense of connection and belonging.

When we discover the legends and history of a place that we already know, we can be custodians of that knowledge and feel even more powerfully attached to the place.

Last week, I stood in the gardens of Preston Tower waiting for primary school children to arrive, standing in my own sense of place. I wrote exactly a year ago of the plans to repair the tower and make it accessible; now the work is under way.

It’s really exciting and I had been asked to tell stories to promote open days taking place this coming weekend, in which there will be fun family activities and people will have the opportunity to find out what is planned, what has been discovered, and give their opinion on what they think should happen.

It was a beautiful morning, perfect atmosphere for outside storytelling: warm calm and tranquil.

I waited at the bottom of the Laburnum arch, listening for the sound of the approaching children.

Then I saw a man walking towards the doocot and I realised he was one of the builders working on the repair of the building.

I approached him, introduced myself and explained I was storytelling to local children.

His name was George (I hope I remembered his name correctly) and he asked me at what times I’d be storytelling. I explained it would be the whole school day, till 3.30pm.

George told me he would need to use the cement mixer every now and then and turned it on to show me the level of noise.

Well, it was a cement mixer, and it made quite a loud grinding noise.

But I understood George needed to do his work and assured him I’d told tales at music festivals and playgrounds with lots of distractions, so it would be fine.

When the first class of children arrived, the noise stopped just as I began my storytelling.

I told stories all day and it was only after the last session, when I was packing up, that I realised there had been no noise from the cement mixer all day.

Then I saw George walking down to the doo’cot, so I went to chat with him.

He was returning from a different job. He told me that the cement mixer was louder than he’d realised and he’d felt the storytelling experience for the children was important.

So he’d phoned his boss to see if he could arrange to do a job in a different location until I’d finished the storytelling.

I was taken aback by his kindness and respect for the children’s experience.

I would have totally understood that he needed to do his job, but I was so thankful to him that he’d gone to this trouble to help the children enjoy the experience; and indeed to his boss for arranging it.

Without knowing it, George’s thoughtfulness added a new thread of positive experience to my sense of place at what is a truly beautiful historic location.

He helped to do the same for the local schoolchildren, although they had no idea of what he had done for them.

I told a few tales of the legends and history of the Pans but the tower has so many stories to tell.

It’s seen the horror of the Rough Wooing in 1544, the devastation of Cromwell’s invasion in 1650 and, in a ruined condition, it witnessed the Jacobite charge in 1745.

Such events were a brief, and dramatic, flash of history, but so many more stories lie waiting to be told, and the children themselves had tales from their families.

The vision is to make Preston Tower a major attraction for those in the community and beyond.

The plans afoot to sympathetically rebuild the stairs, and make the tower safe and accessible, truly excited the children. They peered inside the darkness of the cellar and wondered what it looked like inside.

I was asked by one of the children who owned it these days. My reply was: “You, and all of you, and your families and the families in the community, and everyone who cares for it and enjoys it.”

The beauty of its garden setting, the atmosphere of its ancient presence, the intrigue of its history, the traditional stories told of it (including the green or grey lady), all mixed with my own memories, makes Preston Tower a place where I feel truly at home; a sense of place.

Everyone will have the chance to see what the plans are, and give their opinion on what should be done with the tower, during the open days this weekend.