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Sundial House, Harnham

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Middle Stone House

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: NZ07568052
Latitude 55.11905° Longitude -1.88292°

Sundial House, Harnham has been described as a probable Bastle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

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


Sundial House, listed. Georgian date is the latest phase. Removal of harling in Spring 1988 revealed two original windows, each with decorated surrounds - one with lozenge pattern, the other with a frame pattern. Possibly late medieval date. An original entrance was also revealed (now moved to front door), its door was originally harr hung and had positions for security bars. Possible the building was a bastle-type. Initials 'R F' over doorway may refer to the Fenwicks, a reiving family. The building is likely to date from the 15th/16th centuries. A small building in the rear garden was once used as the village mortuary (Davies and Davidson).
Sundial House stands towards the east end of the hamlet of Harnham. The central part of the property is a three-bay two storeyed block with an outshut at the rear of one bay, a single storeyed cottage built on to the west end and a separate two storeyed house adjoining the east end. The body of the house is built of rubble, not especially large except in the lowermost courses, with roughly squared quoins. The walls are c.0.8m thick. The south front has early 19th century openings and may have been refaced, or even rebuilt.
Extensive restoration was carried out in 1988 (details as above) when the northern outshut was heightened. A blocked doorway from the centre of the west gable end, covered internally by a segmental arched and chamfered fireplace that can hardly have been any later than the early 18th century, was moved to become the present front door in the west wall of the rear outshut. It has a flat pointed head, within a chamfered square frame, with marks of knife sharpening on the left jamb and evidence of various bolts and fastenings on the internal splay. In the left spandrel are the faintly incised initials R (?) F, thought to relate to a Richard Fenwick who held land hereabouts c.1600. The original position of the doorway is suggestive of a bastle byre doorway, although its proportions (1.84m high and 0.92m wide) are rather large for a defensible building. Markings on the wall above the original gable end position of the doorway indicated some form of gabled hood or porch.
Removal of render during the 1988 works also exposed two highly unusual windows at first floor level in the north wall. The western was removed when a doorway was broken through the wall to give access to the new first floor room in the outshut and reset at ground floor level a little further east; the eastern remains in situ.
The western window has an external opening 0.24m high by 0.15m wide cut into a single slab 0.5m high by 0.44m wide. The whole of the external face bears a diagonal chequerboard pattern of alternately sunk panels. Within the openings is a slight rebate for some sort of wooden frame and sockets for a central vertical bar.
The eastern window is of similar form, 0.25m high by 0.13m wide, cut into a slab 0.41m high by 0.35m wide, but with cable moulded surround. Here there is a distinct rebate for a wooden frame, but the restricted dimensions were obviously sufficient to preclude the need for a bar.
The house is probably better classed as a bastle-derivative house rather than a bastle proper. The gable end position of the doorway and the tiny first floor windows betray bastle influence, although the wall thicknesses and character of the fabric are atypical. Old references refer to a 'Middle Stone House' at Harnham, which may be Sundial House. The rear outshut and the additions at either end look of mid 18th century date. The date 1827 scratched on one of the roof trusses may relate to a later remodelling responsible for the present south front. The western cottage has a gabled stone hood over the north door which may be another early 19th century feature (Ryder 1994-5).
Solitary bastle, side walls 0.8m thick. Byre entrance in gable wall. Present state - house (Ryder 1990). (Northumberland HER)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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