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Westgate Castle, Stanhope

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Gate Castle; Gaitte

In the civil parish of Stanhope.
In the historic county of Durham.
Modern Authority of Durham.
1974 county of County Durham.
Medieval County of County Palatinate of Durham.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY90653824
Latitude 54.73910° Longitude -2.14638°

Westgate Castle, Stanhope has been described as a certain Pele Tower.

There are no visible remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Site of pele tower-cum-hunting lodge, probably built in C14. The building was used to hold forest courts from 1442 and later served as a residence but was reported to be in a state of ruin by 1647. Leland wrote "The Bishop of Duresme hath a praty square pile on the north side of Were ryver, caullid the Westgate, and therebye is a parke" Site currently overgrown.

From the mid 13th century through to the early 17th, Westgate castle was one of the most important buildings in the North Pennines. It provided the 'west gate' into Bishop of Durham's great deer park of Stanhope, and functioned as an administrative headquarters for the Bishop's extensive estate encompassing the old Forest of Weardale. By the mid 17th century it lay in ruins, and its masonry was subsequently quarried for new buildings. Today, no sign of it survives above ground, though its site is known. Westgate Castle, at the west entrance to Stanhope Park, functioned as a base from which the Bishops could manage the deer park and also their cattle farms outside the park, several of which were now spread throughout the old forest. The castle apparently stood on or close to the site of the bishops' old hunting lodge referred to above. Its original date of construction is not known, but it was standing by 1300 and something of its history has been compiled from documentary sources (Drury 1977). In 1442, by which time the bishops great annual hunting party was no more, the castle was granted for life by Bishop Neville to Lord Thomas Lumley, his Master Forester in Weardale. Throughout most of the latter fifteenth century it was used by the Master Forester as an administrative centre (eg for the collection of rents), and the Forest Court generally met there twice a year, in May and at Michaelmas. It also functioned as a store and on occasions as a prison. We have no description of the building during the fifteenth century, but some indication of its scale may be gleaned from a note of repairs in about 1470, under Bishop Booth. This work included the complete re-roofing of 'the gatehouse' with some 4,000 slates cut from a nearby sandstone quarry. Whether 'the gatehouse' implies the whole of what we refer to know as 'the castle', or just part of it, is not known. Either way, there was clearly a sizeable edifice here by 1470. (Paul Frodsham, 2010)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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