Ancient Monuments

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Vicar's pele tower

A Scheduled Monument in Corbridge, Northumberland

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Latitude: 54.9743 / 54°58'27"N

Longitude: -2.0195 / 2°1'10"W

OS Eastings: 398849.601957

OS Northings: 564406.875343

OS Grid: NY988644

Mapcode National: GBR GBBX.LN

Mapcode Global: WHB2D.Y7HH

Entry Name: Vicar's pele tower

Scheduled Date: 28 November 1932

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006604

English Heritage Legacy ID: ND 77

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Corbridge

Built-Up Area: Corbridge

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Corbridge with Halton and Newton Hall

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


Vicar’s Pele Tower, immediately south east of St Andrew’s Church.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 12 May 2016. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument includes a pele tower of medieval date, situated within the churchyard of St Andrew’s Church. The tower is rectangular in plan measuring approximately 8.3m by 6.4m and is constructed from large squared sandstone blocks, much of which is reused Roman masonry. The tower stands to two storeys in height with a barrel vaulted basement. The tower’s upper level includes angle turrets and a parapet, which stands roughly 9.1m above ground level. The entrance to the tower is via a pointed-arched doorway set towards the north end of the east wall. The door is of oak boards bolted onto an iron grille. The windows in the tower mainly comprise of small chamfered loops with the addition of larger trefoil-arched lights at first floor level.

The tower was mentioned as the property of the vicar in a list of fortalices drawn up for Henry V in 1415, however, the style of the building suggests it was constructed around 1300-1350. The tower remained as a vicarage until the 17th century. It was abandoned in the 17th or 18th century and was restored and re-roofed by the Duke of Northumberland in 1910. Vicar’s Pele Tower is a listed building Grade I.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Tower houses are a type of defensible house particularly characteristic of the borderlands of England and Scotland. Virtually every parish had at least one of these buildings. Solitary tower houses comprise a single square or rectangular `keep' several storeys high, with strong barrel-vaults tying together massive outer walls. Many towers had stone slab roofs, often with a parapet walk. Access could be gained through a ground floor entrance or at first floor level where a doorway would lead directly to a first floor hall. Tower houses were being constructed and used from at least the 13th century to the end of the 16th century. The need for such secure buildings relates to the unsettled and frequently war-like conditions which prevailed in the Borders throughout much of the medieval period. All surviving solitary towers retaining significant medieval remains will normally be identified as nationally important.

The Vicar’s Pele Tower immediately south east of St Andrew’s Church is an excellent example of a vicar’s pele and it retains a significant amount of original features and is well-preserved. The structure of the monument and the ground beneath it will contain archaeological information related to its construction, use and abandonment.

Source: Historic England


PastScape Monument No:- 18476

Source: Historic England

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