Catterlen Hall tower house


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Catterlen Hall tower house
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1012829 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 24-Jul-2019 at 10:29:25.


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

Eden (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 47806 32080

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.

Despite the addition of an Elizabethan wing and recent restoration, Catterlen Hall tower house survives extremely well and is a very good example of this class of monument. It retains considerable medieval fabric and many original architectural features.


The monument includes the upstanding mid-15th century tower house at Catterlen Hall. It has walls up to 1m thick and is constructed of thick pink sandstone blocks on a projecting boulder plinth. The tower lies at the northern end of a range of later buildings. It has external dimensions of 9.1m by 5.9m and is entered through an off-centre Tudor-arched doorway on the southern side which leads into a ground floor barrel-vaulted basement lit by five loopholes or narrow windows. Access to the upper floors is by a newel stairway entered through a narrow passage in the thickness of the wall immediately within the entrance. The first floor was a solar (private chamber), usually a bedroom or living room, attached to which is a small closet thought to have been a garderobe or toilet. The main window is in the east wall and there are small windows in the north and west walls. Originally there was a fireplace in the south wall. The second floor was the sleeping chamber. It is lit by windows in the north and east walls, both with stone seats in the jambs. In the west wall there is a gap where a doorway led onto a wooden bretasche or platform used for defensive purposes. The newel stair continues up to a flat roof and a projecting battlemented parapet with stone water spouts.

Catterlen Hall tower house is thought to have been constructed c.1460 by William de Vaulx and replaced an earlier tower, the earthwork remains of which lie a short distance to the north. In 1577 an Elizabethan wing was added to the south of the tower and in 1657 a Renaissance wing was added to the south end of the Elizabethan wing. During the 1970's and 80's the tower was renovated. This work was clearly undertaken very carefully and with the preservation of the tower as a monument clearly in mind. Consequently all works were designed to have minimal impact on the medieval fabric. The monument is a Listed Building Grade I. The 16th and 17th century wings, which are inhabited, are not included in the scheduling.

Part of the access drive and all paths and garden walls within the 2m boundary on the monument's north, east and west sides are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features is included.

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


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Curwen, J F, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Catterlen Hall, , Vol. 7, (1907), 111-119
Curwen, J F, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Extra Ser.' in Castles and Towers of Cumb, West and Lancs N of the Sands, , Vol. 13, (1913), 358-60
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
Schofield,A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Tower House, (1989)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].