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Harnham Hall, Belsay

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
ffortalicium de Harnhamhall

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NZ07378047
Latitude 55.11860° Longitude -1.88595°

Harnham Hall, Belsay has been described as a probable Pele Tower, and also as a Tower House although is doubtful that it was such.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

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


At the back of the present house stands a medieval tower (Pevsner 1957).
Listed 1415 as a fortalice (Bates).
The Hall, not outstanding, incorporates the tower on the north side (F1 BHP 10-OCT-68).
The tower house was built in 1412-15 on the edge of a steep precipice. in about 1500 part of the tower's south wall was pulled down and a manor house built against it (Dodds 1999). (PastScape)

House. Probably C16 or early C17, altered late C17 and refenestrated C18. Random rubble, pebbledashed on front; stone slate roof.
Probably originally a hearth-passage plan, altered in later C17 to central staircase plan with downhouse. Tower attached to rear.
2 storeys, 4 windows. To left a late C16 or early C17 doorway with Tudor-arched surround and multi-moulded floating cornice. Later C17 central doorway has Tudor-arched lintel, broad chamfered surround and hoodmould with small nailhead decoration. 12-pane sash windows in raised surrounds. (Vestiges of mullioned windows in quite different positions said to be visible beneath pebbledash). Steeply-pitched gabled roof with flat coping and kneelers; corniced ridge stack to right of earlier doorway. Similar external end stacks.
The tower to rear is built daringly, directly over edge of cliff. It is said to be medieval but the walls are only c. 2 ft. thick and it appears to have no features earlier than C17. Vaulted basement with 2 storeys over. On the ground floor a 3-light mullioned window with multi-moulded cornice. On 1st floor a blocked mullioned-and-transomed cross window with similar cornice and a 12-pane sash in similar surround. Plain parapet with higher turret in north-east corner.
Interior: Open-well early C18 staircase has turned balusters with square knops and clustered shafts at the newels. In the drawing room a large high-relief plaster roundel with a dragon in a circle of oak leaves; this is the crest of the Babingtons who owned the house from c.1660-1677; also large C17 fireplace with segmental lintel, into which an early C18 stone fireplace with pulvinated frieze has been set; flanking early C18 cupboards. 1st floor room in tower has a fine early C18 corner cupboard with arched panels, scrolled pedimented top and shaped shelves. Many 2-panel doors. (Listed Building Report)

Recorded in the 1415 list as a ffortalicium suggesting something more than a chamber block tower attached to an unfortified hall, although that is the form of the replacement building of the C17 which now stands at the probably location of the C15 building. However it may have been the topographic location on an isolated hilltop, with some natural defensive quality, that made this a fortalicium and that the actual C15 building was a more typical chamber block three or four storey tower attached to a hall possibly within a palisade around the relatively small area of the hill top.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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