Radcliffe Tower and site of hall 100m south west of the parish church in Radcliffe


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Radcliffe Tower and site of hall 100m south west of the parish church in Radcliffe
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Sep-2019 at 15:12:41.


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

Bury (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SD 79575 07503

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. 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.

The stone tower of the fortified house at Radcliffe survives well in spite of the loss of the upper storey and the roof. There are sufficient remains to confirm this as an important medieval building with unique features for this region, namely the presence of fireplaces in the ground floor chamber and the design of the timber hall which used to abut the tower on the west side. There are also substantial remains of the early enclosure ditch and rubble wall on the northern side, although the building of cottages in the 19th century on the north eastern sector has obscured and destroyed such remains there.


The monument includes a stone built tower house constructed in the medieval period, together with the buried remains of a timber hall constructed at the same time as the tower and lying to the west of the standing building. The tower, which is a Grade I Listed Building, survives as a roofless rectangular building. The ground floor has a stone tunnel vault, of which substantial parts remain. Internally the building measures 12.2m from north to south and 5.5m from east to west. The walls are 1.5m thick at the base, increased to 1.9m by a plinth surrounding the building at ground level. In the south west corner the wall is reinforced to 1.8m thick to accommodate a staircase in the thickness of the wall. In the eastern wall are two openings with a deep splay for windows, a fireplace in the centre and the flue in the thickness of the wall. In the opposite western wall is a central doorway with a pointed arch of a decorated style with a simple roll moulded surround. Larger windows were set in the north and south walls. Below each of these two windows there is a fireplace 3.2m wide and 2.2m high. The arches above the fires are repeated as a decoration in the outside walls of the tower. Above the ground floor room was an upper room with a fireplace set in the centre of the west wall. The present height of the tower is 8.5m but there is evidence from the 18th century that the original was three storeys high. This tower was built with a timber hall butted onto the west wall. Remains of the slot for the timbers of the hall are visible in the west wall, as is the outline of the hall gable end. This shows that access to the tower was through the hall and that the two buildings were designed as a whole. The timber hall was used as a farm building until it was demolished in about 1830. Excavations in 1979-1980 have revealed that the hall and tower were contained within a ditched enclosure on the northern side and that this was later reinforced by a rubble wall to form a square courtyard. The tower and hall were built by James de Radcliffe in 1403 when he was granted a licence to crenellate, that is, permission from the king to fortify his residence. The hall stands within 100m of the present parish church and this should be viewed as part of the extent of the original manor precinct. The railings and post and wire fence erected around the remains of the tower are not included in the scheduling, but the ground beneath 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.

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Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Lancashire: Volume IV, (1911), 59-61
Pevsner, N, Country Houses of Greater Manchester, (1985), 102
Tyson, N, 'Greater Manchester Archaeological Journal' in Excavations at Radcliffe Tower, (1985), 39-53


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

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