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Beadnell; The Craster Arms

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NU22932927
Latitude 55.55655° Longitude -1.63816°

Beadnell; The Craster Arms has been described as a certain Pele Tower.

There are major building remains.

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


A will of 1587 mentions a tower at Beadnell in the possession of the Forster family. It is now known as the 'Craster Arms' and preserves much of its ancient masonry (Bateson 1893).
NU 2212927. The only external feature of this tower is the NE wall 7.0m long containing a blocked up narrow window - the other walls are embodied in the Craster Arms (F1 JHO 24-MAR-55).
The tower was built between 1520 and 1587 by Thomas Forster, but by 1818 it had been converted into the Bull Inn, now the Craster Arms (King 1983; Dodds 1999). (PastScape)

Medieval and C18. Ashlar facade, random rubble to rear. Welsh slate roof. C18 front block with medieval tower attached to rear. Front block: 3 storeys, 2 bays with sash windows. Above 1st floor windows a large, well-carved, painted stone arms of the Craster family with long stone foliage trails. Gabled roof with flat coping, kneelers and end stack. Above window on right return a carved King's head. Doorway on right return. 2-storey tower to rear is now a lean-to against front block. Massive walls c.9 ft. thick. One slit window remains on right return. C18 round-headed window on left return. Interior has pointed tunnel-vaulted basement divided by old cross wall. Stone newel stair. Later lean-to on right return, and lower wing to rear, not of special interest. (Listed Building Report)

A small medieval tower is incorporated in the Craster Arms public house in Beadnell village. The rear half of the main block of the building is formed by the tower, c.8.7m by 7.2m externally, with walls of large roughly squared and coursed stone 1.5m to 1.8m thick; there are 20th century additions on all sides. There do not appear to be any medieval references to the tower. The tower was purchased from John Swinburn in 1563 by Thomas Forster of Adderstone; it remained in Forster ownership until the early 18th century. By 1818 it had become a public house, 'The Bull Inn'; it was later renamed 'The Craster Arms'.
At basement level, no part of the external wall faces are exposed. Internally the basement is used as a cellar and has a roughly segmental east-west barrel vault; the west end is cut off by a later cross wall; in the centre of the west wall is the inner splay of a rectangular loop (now blocked) and at the south west corner a corbel. The original form of the larger eastern part of the basement is rather difficult to comprehend due to later alterations. A rounded projection on the north is formed by an old bread oven having been built into the basement: a passage on the west side of the oven, linking through to the public bar, has the inscription 'Entrance cut from Pele Tower 1936' scratched on a piece of cement. The south east corner of the basement is partitioned off by a quadrant-plan wall of old brick. Within the small chamber which this produces, a rough opening at the south end of the east wall opens into a mural stair rising northward, lit by a tiny loop. The stair head doorway, now blocked, appears to have been square headed. There are two further openings cut through the basement wall, one on the south into the 18th century front block and one on the east into modern additions. Neither shows any feature of antiquity.
Externally, parts of the east and west walls of the tower are exposed at first floor level. On the east there is the tiny loop lighting the stair, with above it a larger square headed window, now blocked. The west wall is rendered with a large round headed sash. Above the first floor, the tower now has its roof pent against the taller front block; on the east the masonry of this section appears to have been rebuilt.
The interior of the first floor was not seen; there are said to be no ancient features. Some accounts refer to remains of an old fireplace, it is not clear where.
The front block appear to be of mid 18th century date; there is reported to have been an inscription with the date '1751' and the initials 'F' (Forster) and 'I' and 'S' on a door sill in the building (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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