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Clifton Hall tower

A Scheduled Monument in Clifton, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.6369 / 54°38'12"N

Longitude: -2.7285 / 2°43'42"W

OS Eastings: 353076.417486

OS Northings: 527112.566204

OS Grid: NY530271

Mapcode National: GBR 9GDT.2K

Mapcode Global: WH81C.2Q03

Entry Name: Clifton Hall tower

Scheduled Date: 20 April 1949

Last Amended: 1 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008634

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23688

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Clifton

Built-Up Area: Clifton

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Clifton St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the upstanding late 15th-early 16th century tower wing
of Clifton Hall together with adjoining buried remains of the hall which vary
in date from the late 14th century to the late 18th century.
Clifton Hall tower wing is constructed of red sandstone. It has external
dimensions of 10m by 7.9m and is entered via the central of three doorways in
its south face. The ground floor of the tower is divided into three rooms
which latterly functioned as service rooms and a kitchen. Originally it was a
single room with its west end partitioned off. The largest part of the ground
floor would have been well furnished and decorated as befitted its status and
function as a 15th century parlour. The present windows are 17th and 18th
century and there are two fireplaces, one original, the other 18th century.
Access to the upper floors is by a newel or circular stair situated in the
south west corner of the tower. This gives access to the most important room
in the tower, the principal chamber or solar, located on the first floor.
Apart from an 18th century window the room has changed little. It has a
fireplace in the north wall, an original window in the west wall, and a
garderobe or latrine chamber in the thickness of the wall in the north west
corner. Prior to the 17th century it was originally entered at first floor
level from an external staircase on the south. Access to the uppermost chamber
is by the newel staircase from the solar. In more recent centuries this
chamber has been sub-divided and used as bedrooms, but it still retains
original windows and a fireplace, only the east windows being 18th century
insertions. The present roof was restored in 1979. It is a 17th century
replacement of an earlier roof and was raised at the same time that the
tower's crenellated parapets and south west corner turret were built.
Limited archaeological excavations adjacent to the tower undertaken between
1977-79 have located buried structural foundations ranging from the late 14th
century to the late 18th century. These included remains of the original late
14th-early 15th century hall to the north east of the tower; the late
14th-early 15th century west wing of the original hall, and two 18th century
additions thought to have been a suite of bedrooms and a dairy or laundry to
the north of the tower, an original well to the north west of the tower and an
early 16th century timber-framed building replaced by a late 16th century
stone hall to the south of the tower.
This excavation, together with a structural survey of the tower, documentary
evidence and antiquarian descriptions, have enabled a comprehensive history of
Clifton Hall to be interpreted. The earliest building was probably undertaken
by Elainor Engaine or her son William Wybergh during the late 14th-early 15th
century and consisted of a hall with two cross wings. The tower replaced the
west cross wing by the late 15th-early 16th century. Shortly after a timber-
framed structure of two floors was added to the south face of the tower. This
was demolished towards the end of the 16th or early in the 17th century and
replaced by a larger stone built hall. During the 18th century further
additions were made to the north of the tower. The hall was demolished in the
early 19th century and replaced by the present farmhouse a short distance to
the east. The tower remained in use as a farm building until renovation during
the late 1970's. The tower and the surrounding environs enclosed by a wall and
fence were placed in the guardianship of the Secretary of State in 1973.
All walls, fences, gateposts, information boards and English Heritage fixtures
and fittings are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all
these features is included. Also excluded is the gravelled surface of the
modern enclosure within which the tower stands and the modern arrangement of
stone setts depicting buried walls of structures associated with Clifton Hall,
but the ground beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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. At many sites the tower comprised only one element of a
larger house, with at least one wing being attached to it. These wings
provided further domestic accommodation, frequently including a large hall.
If it was incorporated within a larger domestic residence, the tower itself
could retain its defensible qualities and could be shut off from the rest of
the house in times of trouble. Tower houses were being constructed and used
from at least the 13th century to the end of the 16th century. They provided
prestigious defended houses permanently occupied by the wealthier or
aristocratic members of society. As such they were important centres of
medieval life. 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. Around 200 examples of tower houses have been
identified of which over half were elements of larger houses. All surviving
tower houses retaining significant medieval remains will normally be
identified as nationally important.

Although most of Clifton Hall has been demolished, the late medieval tower
wing survives well and is a good example of this class of monument. It was
occupied continuously from the late 15th-early 16th centuries until the 19th
century and still retains considerable medieval fabric and many original
architectural features. Additionally limited archaeological excavation
adjacent to the tower undertaken in the late 1970's has located artefacts and
building remains associated with the structural development of Clifton Hall
from the late 14th-early 15th centuries to the late 18th century, and further
evidence of this nature will exist in areas beneath and adjacent to the tower.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Nicolson, , Burn, , History of the Antiquities of Westmorland and Cumberland414-20
Fairclough, G, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Clifton Hall, Cumbria: Excavations 1977-79, , Vol. LXXX, (1980), 45-68
Taylor, M W, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. Extra Series' in The Old Manorial Halls Of Westmorland And Cumberland, , Vol. VIII, (1892), 77-81
SMR No. 2895, Cumbria SMR, Clifton Hall, Tower wing, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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