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East Shaftoe Hall

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Shaftoe Craggs; East Shaftoe House

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NZ05958176
Latitude 55.13050° Longitude -1.90899°

East Shaftoe Hall has been described as a certain Pele Tower, and also as a probable Bastle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

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


House. Late C13 or C14 tower, attached house possibly C16 extended and altered mid C17 and again in C18. Squared stone and random rubble. Lakeland slate roof. Medieval tower to left with later house attached to right. Extreme right section has walls of similar thickness to tower and may have been a second tower linked to the first by a hall range. Central section extended to rear in C18 and the whole re-roofed to make a roughly rectangular building. 2 storeys plus attic. In three sections: Left bay is the tower, of large, even, medieval squared stone; early C17 round-headed doorway with roll-moulded surround and above a 12-pane Yorkshire sash in double-chamfered surround. Right of this a straight joint to second section, the later house, which is 3 bays with 12-pane sashes in C17 chamfered surrounds under string courses. Projecting 2-bay section on extreme right has early C17 doorway to left with multi-moulded surround and renewed Tudor-arched lintel; 12- and 9-pane sashes in double-chamfered surrounds. Hipped roof with large external stacks to right and to rear. C19 lean-to carriage house on left return.
Interior: tower has tunnel-vaulted ground floor strengthened by 8 massive square-section transverse ribs; in north-west corner pointed-arched chamfered doorway to newel stair of which only the circular stairwell remains. Similar broader doorway into attached house. Mid C17 open-well staircase with moulded handrail, square newels with ball finialsand diabolo balusters; the balustrade continues beyond the present top of the stairs and is an indication that the house was once 3 full storeys.
Adjacent to south-east corner is a round font from former Shaftoe Church, now used as a planter: probably C12. (Listed Building Report)

East Shaftoe Hall stands on rising ground to the north of the A696, midway between Belsay and Kiikwhelpington; there was formerly a village nearby, and a chapel, the grassed-over footings of which remain, some distance to the west.
There appears to be little in the way of historical records of the house, which is a substantial farmhouse displaying a sequence of development very typical of the southern part of the county (cf Shortflatt and West Bitchfield), from a medieval building with a tower through a 17th-century house to a superficially-Georgianised small country house.
The house is quite a complex building, consisting of a central block of four bays and two-and-a-half storeys, with a cross-wing at each end; the western cross-wing, formed by the medieval tower, does not project to the south A later block (the north range) has been built at the rear of the main block, infilling the gap between the wings, and there are further single-storeyed extensions to the north and east, and a small two-storeyed block in the angle between centre block and the southern part of the east wing. A pent-roofed outbuilding is built against the west side of the house.
The Tower
The medieval block generally interpreted as a tower (known to the owners as 'the keep') measures 10.9 by 6.8 m externally, with in addition a stair projection or turret 4.2 by 1.5 m at the north end of the west side; the walls, 1.1-1.3 m thick at basement level, are of large squared stone. The block is now two storeys high, and covered by the hip-ended roof of the house.
The basement has a slightly-depressed barrel vault carried on eight square ribs; the two northern ribs are set slightly skew to allow for the position of a doorway in the east wall, now opening into the house, which has a pointed chamfered arch; a similar doorway at the north end of the west wall opens into the stair well in the turret, 1.8 m in diameter. The newel and treads are missing, and might conceivably have been of timber; there is a small tapering loop, its external opening blocked, opening onto the west wall of the turret. In the west wall to the south of the turret is a recess of uncertain function, and further south a splayed loop (blocked internally). In the centre of the south wall is a round-arched doorway with a continuous roll moulding, apparently an insertion, and in the centre of the north wall a 19th-century sash window with a tooled ashlar surround.
At first-floor level the tower is sub-divided by a cross-wall 0.70 m thick, which may be of some age. A square-headed doorway, apparently with a chamfered lintel (concealed behind wallpaper) gives access to the tower from the stairhead landing in the main block, but there has been an earlier doorway further south in the same wall, now a cupboard in the bedroom to the east of the tower; this appears to have had a pointed rear arch. A square-headed chamfered doorway opens from the northern room in the tower into the stair well, here lit by a small loop on the north. A square-headed window in the north wall of the room looks like an old feature that has been altered, and perhaps reduced in size. The southern room in the tower has a large wall cupboard (perhaps originally some form of mural chamber, possibly a garderobe) on the west and a 17th-century window, formerly of two fights, on the south; there seems to be an area of patching below the sill of this.
The Main Block
This has walls of heavy roughly squared stone c 0.80 m thick. The south front is of three irregular bays and two and a half storeys, with late 18th or early-19th century sashes replacing wider 17th-century mullioned windows at first-floor level; there are similar sashes to the ground floor, but at this level the wall face is largely hidden by ivy and cotoneaster. The wall has a chamfered plinth, and moulded strings above each range of windows. Above the upper string are remains of low or cut-down openings directly below the present eaves.
The former rear wall of the block is now internal; it contains a large fireplace, now concealed, served by a massive projecting stack which considerably restricts the size of the eastern rooms in the north range. The west end of the wall would appear to have abutted against the doorway opening into the tower basement, although this is again exposed by a doorway through the wall at this point.
The East Wing
This has walls ofc 0.90 m, a little thicker than those of the main block, with large roughly-squared quoins; internally it has been much altered, although the present cross-wall is probably old. This divides the ground floor into two rooms, each of which has been served by a fireplace (concealed) with a heavy external stack. The modem stair at the south end of the northern part replaces an earlier predecessor, as there is a blocked chamfered window at mid-height in the east wall at this point.
East Shaftoe Hall is very typical of a number of small manor houses in southern Northumberland, demonstrating a gradual transition from a medieval fortified house to a small Georgian country seat, elements of each period being retained.
A tentative reconstruction of the structural development of the hall might be:
1. 15th or early 16th century house, with a tower or tower solar at the west end, adjoining a hall block that may have been of earlier date. The rib-vault of the tower basement is unusual; a parallel was at Seghill Tower, now demolished.
2. The house may have been remodelled in the 16th or early 17th century as an H-plan 'strong house', the old hall block being replaced by the present centre block and east wing, perhaps having their principal apartments at first floor level. The evidence for this is fairly tentative, but runs as follows; the north wall of the centre block would appear to have been built across the original doorway into the tower basement. The present south doorway, which one presumes replaced the blocked doorway, seems to be of 16th rather than 17th-century character.
3. The house was completely remodelled in the mid-17th century as a conventional ground floor house, with contemporary architectural detail such as moulded string courses. The end result must have been a house quite like Denton Hall near Newcastle, a three-storeyed H-plan house with a porch in the angle of centre block and east wing, and a stair wing at the rear. At Shaftoe the west wing was the earlier tower, it is not clear how much it was remodelled, as its upper parts do not survive.
4. At some subsequent date, perhaps in the early 18th centuiy, a further block was built infilling the gap between the stair wing and the north part of the east wing.
5. In the later 18th-century the appearance of the house was drastically altered by a further remodelling. The top floor was cut down (and the early-18th century part of the north block, which presumably had a pent roof, heightened), and a single hip-ended roof constructed to cover the whole structure; all the mullioned windows were altered to sashes.
Phases (3) and (5) are closely paralleled at nearby Shortflatt; there seems to have been a conscious desire to get away from the 'old fashioned' 17th-century appearance of tall buildings with many gables and mullioned windows, by what would now seem a retrograde step, from the aesthetic point of view, of substituting all-encompassing hipped roofs and sash windows.
6. 19th century changes were relatively minor; various small additions have already been described.
This is quite an important house, although it may suffer a little through being in close proximity to other comparable structures, such as Shortflatt and Belsay, where the medieval phases are better preserved. It would merit proper archaeological recording; the plan accompanying this article is little more than a sketch plan (external elevations measured, and select internal measurements) and should not be relied upon in the matter of wall alignments etc. (Ryder 1994-5)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:10

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