Chipchase Tower

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011411

Date first listed: 09-Apr-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 25-Nov-1993

Map

Ordnance survey map of Chipchase Tower
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Chollerton

National Grid Reference: NY 88239 75734

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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. Solitary towers were normally accompanied by a small outer enclosure defined by a timber or stone wall and called a barmkin. 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 and 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 less than half are of the free- standing or solitary tower type. All surviving solitary towers retaining significant medieval remains will normally be identified as nationally important.

Chipchase Tower is widely regarded as one of the best preserved towers in Northumberland. It survives in its early 14th-century state and, although partially restored, it represents an example of exceptional architectural and archaeological importance.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes an exceptionally well preserved tower house situated on a gently sloping area of ground on the left bank of the River North Tyne. It is adjacent to the manor house known as Chipchase Castle which was added to the tower in the early 17th century. The mid-fourteenth-century tower is rectangular in shape and rises three storeys above a vaulted basement, with a watch turret attached to each corner, and joined by a parapet walk. Externally, the tower measures 15.7m north-south by 10.4m east-west and is 15.5m high to the top of the turrets. An entrance lobby, housing a circular staircase giving access to the upper storeys and the parapet walk, is attached to its east side. The main entrance still retains the original wooden portcullis, operated from a small room on the first floor. The vaulted basement is strong, with walls 2.6m thick and no windows. Each subsequent floor consists of a single large room with a variety of small chambers leading off it into the thickness of the walls. The first floor room has small windows on the south and east sides and a small fireplace in the west wall, with the portcullis room at the south-eastern corner. The second floor room has larger windows in the south and east sides and a large fireplace in the west wall. Among the subsidiary chambers on this floor there is an L-shaped chapel situated on the east side. The third floor contains the largest and most lavish room: lit by four windows, it has a large fireplace in the west wall and several features of architectural note. Subsidiary rooms on this floor include a kitchen. The tower is a Grade I listed building, as is the attached later house. The early 17th-century manor house is attached to the tower on its east side and an early 19th-century range of buildings is attached to the north-eastern corner of the tower. Neither of these later additions is included in the scheduling.

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

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 20941

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Knowles, W H, 'History of Northumberland' in Chipchase Tower, , Vol. IV, (1897), 333-337

End of official listing