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Whitton Tower

Hob Uid: 4409
Location :
Northumberland
Whitton and Tosson
Grid Ref : NU0565001040
Summary : Tower house, built in the 14th century as a 'vicar's pele', later a rectory, now two units. A house was attached to the front of the tower in the mid 19th century. The building is irregular in plan, built of squared stone and ashlar with slate roofs. It was let out for use as a children's home in 1937. 1983 returned to private residences.
More information : [NU 05650104] Tower [G.T.] (1)

Tower and a little barmkin at Whitton. (2)

Whitton; a small village on a high ground south of the river Coquet in which is a tower belonging to the Rector of Rothbury. (3)

Mentioned in the 1415 Survey as the 'Turris de Whitton, iuxta
Rothbury'. Described in the 1541 Survey as a tower and a little
barmkin being the mansion of the parsonage of Rothbury and in good repair. (4)

The former rectory of Rothbury is a pele tower of the 14th c. It was repaired at the end of the 17th c, altered and enlarged in the 18th c,and almost completely rebuilt but for the more indestructible lower parts, by Rev C.G.V. Harcourt, who also had built the modern east wing in Tudor style.

On the north side are the kitchen wing and extensive out-buildings round the 'lytle barmekin' of 1541.

The old tower measures externally 46 feet north to south and 33 feet east to west, and is still about 60 feet high on the north side, but only 42 on the south side where the ground rises.

The entrance was near the west end of the north front, where there is a small doorway, with a pointed head, and surrounding chamfer. Within is a lobby, from which it is almost certain a doorway led to a mural stair on the west side. An inner door leads into the vault, roofed by an unribbed pointed barrel roof running north and south, and pierced by a small square hatchway in its southern half. The ground floor has walls more than 9 feet thick, and a well 3 feet in diameter, said to be 15 feet deep.

The first floor is covered by a plain pointed barrel ceiling which may be modern. In the south east corner, a newel stair leads up to the roof. In the centre of the east wall of the second floor is a recess covered by an elliptical arch, interrupted at its south end by a modern passage to the east wing. In the south wall of the recess, which was no doubt part of the oratory, there is a piscina carved with oak leaves and having an ogee-leaded fenestella.

The battlements are modern, and none of the external openings, apart from the entrance door, now within the kitchen wing, seem older than the 18th c. (5)

The tower seems evidently to be the work of the last half of the 14thc. Some sort of stone house may have been built on to the tower in the 17th c. The east wing was built after 1784, and rebuilt in Tudor style later.

The first floor stone vault may be accounted for by the fact of its
being on ground level on the south side. The pointed inner door from the east side of the ground level still remains and near it the shouldered door that leads to the wheel stair. (6)

On the west front, a carved shield probably contains the arms of Alexander Cooke, Rector of Rothbury, 1435-1474, who probably restored the tower and built the upper stange in which the shield is inserted. The piscina was discovered during alterations in 1871. The masonry throughout is massive, especially in the lower courses, where the quoins consist of huge blocks of sandstone; a rudely chamfered base runs around the whole building. About midway up the wall is another stange, above which the work appears to be of later date.

The tower stands near the summit of a ridge, formed by one of the lower spurs of the Simonside range of hills, on the south bank of the Coquet, and commanding an extensive view up the valley to the west. (7)

The walls at the base are 11 feet thick, in the kitchen, 9 feet, and
towards the top, 6 feet. Whitton Tower was a few years ago acquired by Sir Angus Watson and turned into a children's hospital. (8)

The tower, correctly described by authorities (5), (6), (7) and (8)
occupies the SW corner of the building which in other respects appears to be entirely modern.

In excellent condition the tower forms part of the Ethel Watson
Convalescent Home for Children (Name plate on gate). (9)

Condition unchanged. No remains of the barmkin are apparent. (10)

Whitton Tower (Formerly Rothbury Rectory). Grade II*. An important and early specimen of a parson's tower, unusual in having two floors covered by barrel vaults, (there is a doubt as to the genuineness of the upper one), C14 repaired late C17, altered and enlarged C18, enlarged and reconstructed early C19, internally altered 1871, 1894 and after sale to Sir Angus Watson who let it to Newcastle Corporation for a children's home, in 1937. Would have been grade I if less altered. (11)

Whitton Tower, Listed. For the designation record of this site please see The National Heritage List for England. (12-13)

1386 Pele tower built in Whitton by Sir Thomas De Umfraville, Lord of Harbottle
By 1415 it was in the hands of the rector and continued as the residence of the Rector of Rothbury until 1934.
1830 the east Wing was added, (this is now (2014) called ‘The Rectory’).
Cllr Angus Watson purchased the land and properties called Whitton Tower from the church having already acquired the vicarage glebe land and nearby Whitton Grange. He leased Whitton Tower to Newcastle City Council for a children’s convalescent home. It continued to be the ‘Ethel Watson Children’s Convalescent Home’ until 1983. The property was then sold to the Del-Greco family. Now privately owned residences. (14)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1926
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Source Number : 2
Source : Archaeologia Aeliana : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details : Arch Ael 4th Series 16 1939 182 Map of Md Northum and Durham (R.N. Hadcock)
Page(s) : 182
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 16
Source Number : 10
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 BHP 13-SEP-71
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 11
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : MHLG (Prov HHR) Rothbury RD Northum Sept 1948 15
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Source Number : 12
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District Northumberland. 21-OCT- 1953. [DOE (HHR) District of Alnwick Northumberland 29.5.87 57]
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Source Number : 13
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : English Heritage. 2014. ‘English Heritage: The National Heritage List for England’, < http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1371030 > [Accessed 16-DEC-2014]
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Source Number : 14
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Whitton Tower, Northumberland. < www.whittontower.com > [accessed 17-DEC-2014]
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Source Number : 3
Source : Archaeologia Aeliana : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details : Arch Ael 3rd Series 13 1916 13 List of Ruined Towers Chapels etc in Northum c1715 (H.C. Hodgson)
Page(s) : 13
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 13
Source Number : 3a
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ms John Warburton
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Source Number : 4
Source : Archaeologia Aeliana : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details : Arch Ael 2nd Series 14 1891 18 45 (C.J. Bates)
Page(s) : 18 45
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 14
Source Number : 5
Source : Northumberland County History
Source details : NCH XV 1940 315-317 (Photo opp. p. 312) (Ed. M Hope Dodds)
Page(s) : 315-17
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 15
Source Number : 6
Source : Archaeologia Aeliana : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details : Arch Ael 2nd Series 14 1891 393-395. (Sketch 393) (C.J. Bates)
Page(s) : 393-95
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 14
Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Upper Coquetdale 1903 443-7 (D. Dixon) (Sketch p 444)
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Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Guide to Northumberland 1902 335 (W.W. Tomlinson)
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Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 EG 07-FEB-57
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Since 1201
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1201
Monument Type : Vicarage, Tower House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Mid C19
Monument End Date : 1866
Monument Start Date : 1833
Monument Type : Vicarage
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : 1937-1983
Monument End Date : 1983
Monument Start Date : 1937
Monument Type : Childrens Home
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 236335
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1371030
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NU 00 SE 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NU 00 SE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1957-02-07
End Date : 1957-02-07
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NU 00 SE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1971-09-13
End Date : 1971-09-13