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Historic England Research Records

Elsdon Tower

Hob Uid: 19708
Location :
Northumberland
Elsdon
Grid Ref : NY9360793404
Summary : A vicar's pele was recorded on this site in 1415, but stylistic evidence indicates that Elsdon Tower dates from the mid to late 16th century. Originally four storeyed, but remodelled internally to create a three storeyed building of random sandstone and gritstone. The floor levels were altered in the 17th and late 18th centuries. Additional ranges were built onto the tower in the 18th, early 19th and 20th centuries.
More information : (NY 93619340) Castle (GT) (Rems of) (1)

The parsonage which is called Elsdon Castle, is a strong old tower. It is known to have existed in the time of Sir Robert Umfreville, who died in 1436. The arms on the south front are those of Sir Robert Taylboys.

The first floor is a vault spanned by one arch, 27 feet by 15 feet, with a recess 7 feet deep, cut through the wall to the windows. A circular stone staircase still leads to the upper rooms, formerly two low rooms containing four chambers each, the first of which was a kitchen with servants apartments, flaggged with stone. Mr Singleton has added various offices to the old building, which he has modernised throughout. (2)

A battlemented walk goes along three sides of the gabled, stone-tiled roof, and the entrance is additionally guarded by projecting machicolations. (3)

The Fortified Vicarage stands overlooking the village of Elsdon upon a knoll, which commands the surrounding countryside in all directions. To the south and west, the ground falls away rather gently, to the north, there is a local depression with steep slopes, with higher ground rising beyond, and to the east are precipitous slopes falling to the Elsdon Burn. The tower, strongly sited, occupies a strategic position at the entrance to the valley of this burn, which runs north-westwards from here up into the hills. It also commands the east-west valley to the south, of the Whiskershiel Burn.

The tower was originally of four storeys with a flat roof. In the 17c, the upper three storeys were coverted into two, and redesigned in the decoration of that period, internally.

A penthouse roof was added, probably about the same time, leaving a battlement walk around it.

The basement retains its barrel vaulted roof, but a large window has been cut in the east end and a smaller one through the south side. A newel stair leads up from the east side of the original entrance to the basement which is through the north side, midway, and now within the present vicarage. It is within the wall, but no trip-step as described by Authority 5 was noticed.

A cupboard on the first floor in the south wall now conceals the original entrance to some mural steps leading down westwards to the basement. The lower exit is now blocked up and its position is not known.

The tower structure is in excellent condition.The walls are of roughly carved and bonded fashioned stone, built upon strong foundations, with large dressed quoins at the corners. The side walls at ground level are 2.7m thick, the end walls 1.8m thick. The original floor levels are indicated by numerous small square-headed windows and arrow slit, the former now blocked up; the latter are retained giving light to the newel stairway. Modern large windows have been inserted at the new floor levels.

Against the north and west sides of the tower, modern extensions have been constructed of two-storey height. (4)

Condition unchanged. (5)

1 Elsdon Rectory Incorporates Elsdon Tower. C14 "the fines of all the existing rectorial tower houses of Northumberland" (Morris). Gutted late C18 and its interior renovated in the Gothic style of plasterwork. The ground floor room 27ft. x 15ft. has a good lath and plaster barrel-vaulted ribbed ceiling; there are bedrooms on the first floor and a fine saloon above them. These 3 s.
correspond to an original 4 s. There is some mediaeval and much C.18 heraldry. A wing was added C. 18 and much enlarged C.19. (6)

Elsdon Tower formerly listed as Elsdon Rectory, Grade 1. Recorded as a 'Vicar's Pele' in 1415 but probably rebuilt in the 16th c. (7)

Listed by Cathcart King and Dodds. (8,9)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1921-1948
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : History of Northumberland Part II Vol 1 1827 96-7 (J Hodgson)
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Borderland Castles and Peles 1939 89-90 (R Hugill)
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ASP 17-MAY-57
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Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 BHP 12-DEC-70
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Source Number : 6
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : MHLG Prov List Rothbury RD Northum Sept 1948 4
Page(s) : 4
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Source Number : 7
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : DOE(HHR) District of Alnwick Northumberland 29th May 1987 8
Page(s) : 8
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Source Number : 8
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II : Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands
Source details :
Page(s) : 332
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Source Number : 9
Source : Bastions and Belligerents: Medieval Strongholds in Northumberland
Source details :
Page(s) : 327
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Recorded in 1415
Monument End Date : 1415
Monument Start Date : 1415
Monument Type : Pele Tower, Vicarage
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : C17/early C18
Monument End Date : 1732
Monument Start Date : 1600
Monument Type : Tower House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Extended C18
Monument End Date : 1799
Monument Start Date : 1700
Monument Type : Tower House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Extended early C19
Monument End Date : 1832
Monument Start Date : 1801
Monument Type : Tower House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Extended C20
Monument End Date : 1999
Monument Start Date : 1900
Monument Type : Tower House
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 94172
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 236252
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 110930
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NY 99 SW 13
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NY 99 SW 13
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1957-05-17
End Date : 1957-05-17
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NY 99 SW 13
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1970-12-12
End Date : 1970-12-12
Associated Activities : Primary, INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-11-14
End Date : 1995-11-14