Parson's Tower


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018372

Date first listed: 20-May-1963

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Jan-1999


Ordnance survey map of Parson's Tower
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Jan-2019 at 11:33:39.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Ford

National Grid Reference: NT 94386 37423


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. 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.

Parson's Tower survives in good condition and retains significant medieval remains.


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


This monument includes the ruined medieval tower house, known as Parson's Tower, situated south west of Ford Castle. It was the home of the local parson and as such was always separate from the nearby castle. The remains comprise the basement stage of a tower built of coursed, squared, sandstone blocks, with chamfered set-back or plinth visible on three sides. The tower is almost square in plan, measuring 10.1m by 10.5m externally, stands about 3.65m high and has walls about 2m thick enclosing a single chamber. The entrance lies in the east wall and gives access to a lobby, with an inner and outer doorway, and to a mural stair (steps built within the thickness of the wall). Internally, the basement is covered by an east-west barrel vault and many stones bear masons' marks. The remains of two small openings, or loops, are visible in the north and south walls, that on the north concealed internally by later thickening of the wall. Various sockets and rooflines can be traced in the stonework externally and are associated with later buildings attached to the tower. These no longer survive. The tower is a Grade II Listed Building. Documents first record a tower at Ford in 1541 and describe its partial destruction by the Scots before Flodden (1513). It was associated with the parsonage and was rebuilt by Sir Cuthbert Ogle, mentioned as rector of Ford in 1516. During the next 300 years the tower is reported as having been totally demolished in 1663, rebuilt in 1725 and enlarged in 1825.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 31705

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ryder, P F, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland: A Survey, (1995), 16-17

End of official listing