The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Alnham Vicars Pele

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Alnham Vicarage; Aylnane; Alname

In the civil parish of Alnham.
In the historic county of Northumberland.
Modern Authority of Northumberland.
1974 county of Northumberland.
Medieval County of Northumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NT99031098
Latitude 55.39273° Longitude -2.01698°

Alnham Vicars Pele has been described as a certain Pele Tower.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


This stone tower lies just to he west of the church. It is 11.7m by 8.8m and is built of good quality stone. It has thick walls (1.7 to 2.1m) clearly designed for defence. Like most similar houses the ground floor has a barrel shaped stone vault, and may have been used as a storage area. There is no obvious access between the ground floor and the first floor. Access to the upper storey may have been through an external ladder or staircase. The structure was probably built in the late C14, as it is first mentioned in documents of 1415. It was called a little tower in 1541, but was noted as being ruined by C17. It was believed to belong to the church and was called the Vicar's Pele. Sometime between 1821 and 1844 the building was restored, and a house attached to its east side. At this point, the battlements on the top of the structure were built and replacement windows added. It is now a private house. (Keys to the Past)

The second tower, which still stands today, served from the start as the vicarage. It is first mentioned as a 'lytle toure' in Bowes and Ellerker's survey of 1541. The lack of any reference to it in the 1415 list of Northumbrian strongholds would suggest that it was built at some time after that date, in the 15th or early 16th century. Like the earl's tower, the vicar's pele was in need of maintenance by the time of the 1541 survey.
There is no evidence that it received the necessary repairs and probably suffered steady deterioration instead. A terrier of the glebe land (the land endowment of the parish church), cited by Dixon (1895, 43), indicates the 'vicaridge-house which is an old tower' was in a ruinous state by 1663, having collapsed c. 1651, while the Rev. Robert Thomson was vicar. Warburton's description in 1715 shows its condition had not improved by that date (Hodgson 1916, 3) and no significant repair seems to have been attempted during the 18th century:
Near to the church is the ruins of an ancient well-built pile seemingly to have been a building of note, but, at present, claim'd by the parson of the vicaridge.
In 1758 the vicar was recorded as residing at Ilderton (NCH XIV (1935), 572) and this was still the case in 1828 when Archdeacon Singleton described the 'old tower' as 'long uninhabited and uninhabitable' (cf. NCH XIV (1935), 561).
However it was in use once more by 1844, when the vicarage house and glebe were valued together at £33 (NCH XIV (1935), 561), having been rebuilt in the intervening period with the addition of the current battlements, corner turrets, window openings and a completely new L-plan residential wing in the Tudor style (Grundy 1988, 54: ALN 3). The tower's appearance prior to the rebuilding is shown in a sketch by John Hodgson in 1821, who described it as 'rather low and squat'. (Northumberland National Park)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER       Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact