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Marmion Tower

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Tanfield Castle; Marmions Tower; Westcanfield; West Tanfield

In the civil parish of West Tanfield.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of North Yorkshire.
1974 county of North Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire North Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: SE26777871
Latitude 54.20352° Longitude -1.59100°

Marmion Tower has been described as a certain Fortified Manor House.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Marmion Tower is situated in the village of West Tanfield, next to the parish church and on the north bank of the River Ure. The tower is the fifteenth century gatehouse of the now demolished Tanfield Castle. The monument, at this time, comprises the tower and the ground beneath it only, as the precise location of the castle, which was a fortified manor house of the Marmion family, has not yet been located. The tower is a three storey building, roughly square in plan, with a projection at the north-west corner containing a newel stair. The gateway is barrel vaulted and has a guardroom to the south. The stair leads to the rooms above and ends in a turret above the battlements of the gatehouse. The tower is a Grade I Listed Building and has been in State care since 1927. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse/castle. C14, C16. Ashlar. 3 storeys, 1 bay. Square in plan. East front: large chamfered 4-centred archway with hoodmould to right. To its left a small chamfered rectangular opening. First floor: a central oriel canted window with 2-light cusped openings with Perpendicular tracery to each face, hipped roof above. Second floor: a central moulded mullion and transom window with hoodmould. Moulded eaves band. Embattled parapet. South front: first floor has a small square opening to left, to its right a pointed-arched cusped 1-light window. Second floor: to left a 2-light cusped Y-tracery pointed-arched window with hoodmould. To right a corbelled garderobe. Eaves band has 2 rain spouts. West front: similar arch as to east side. First floor has a moulded mullion and transom window with hoodmould. Second floor: central 2-light cusped Y-tracery pointed-arched window with hoodmould and transom. Clasping north-west corner, a 4-stage stair tower with small chamfered 1-light rectangular openings. It rises above the embattled parapet with its own eaves band and embattled parapet. North front, blind except for chamfered single-light window to second floor. Eaves band has rainwater spouts. Octagonal flue stack rises over the parapets. Interior: ground floor has tunnel vaulted passage between the archways and moulded doorways from this into Porters Lodge which is tunnel vaulted and to the stone spiral stair. First floor was the great hall with large moulded 4-centred arched fireplace. Second floor smaller similar fireplaces. History: possibly a gatehouse castle in its own right with enclosure to rear. John Marmion received licence to crenellate his house in 1314. After his death the castle went to his niece the wife of Sir Henry FitzHugh Kt, then it went to the Parr family. William Parr, brother of the 6th wife of Henry VIII, owned the manor until his death in 1570. It then went to the Crown and was granted to Lord Burghley. Through the Cecil family it was owned by the Earls of Ailesbury in the C18 until 1886 when it was bought by the Arton family. (Listed Building Report)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1348 Nov 18 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).


A licence to crenellate granted to Sir John Marmion in 1314, for his house called L'Ermitage' and another licence was granted in 1348 to his widow Matilda for her manor of Westtanfield. Since the 1314 licence referred to his house in his wood this almost certainly refers to the isolated Magdelan Field site, rather than the old manorial center in the village by the church. Depending on the date of the abandonment of the site at Magdelan Field the 1348 may refer to either site but it seems likely, since the surviving Marmion Tower dates from the mid C14 that this second licence was for a rebuilding of the old manorial centre. The reason for the abandonment of the relatively new Magdelan Field house is unknown but it is possible that Maud, then in her late 50's, felt a need to be nearer the parish church in the rather traumatic years of the Black Death. The gatehouse, although of late C14 date and not built under the licence to crenellate, is an independent, small but high status residence of the sort that may well have been a dowager house.
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:49

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