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Hulne Friary

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Hulne Priory; Hulne Abbey; Hulne Whitefriars; Holne

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NU16361581
Latitude 55.43510° Longitude -1.74321°

Hulne Friary has been described as a certain Pele Tower, and also as a certain Fortified Ecclesiastical site.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

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


Carmelite friary founded circa 1240, it is the best preserved and probably earliest friary of the order in England and has remains of the only suriving Carmelite infirmary. It was dissolved in 1539 when the church and most of the other buildings were demolished or ruined. The remaining claustral buildings were converted into a country house during the mid 16th century. Excavations carried out in 1888-9 uncovered most of the layout of the friary, part of an Anglo-Saxon cross-shaft was also recovered. This is in Alnwick Castle Museum. Parts of the friary were also converted into a house and summerhouse during the 18th century. (PastScape)

Curtain wall with gateways and other structures. Wall and gatehouse probably C15; east and south-west gates late C18. Squared stone, except for gatehouse of large irregular blocks and rubble. Irregular quadrilateral in plan, with original gatehouse on the south. Wall c.4 metres high, with bases of bartizans at north-west and south-east angles, and occasional remains of chamfered-out parapet, on external face south of east gate a slab with raised shield and lion rampant. Gatehouse is 2-storey square tower with elliptical arch and barrel-vaulted passage. Stair-turret on east; chamfered loops. East gate has studded double doors in moulded 3-centred arch under gable with cross finial, flanked by stepped buttresses carrying panelled Gothick pinnacles; carved statue of friar inside gate. South-west gateway has pointed arch with 3-light window above and gable, flanked by stepped buttresses. Blocked medieval doorways on north and west.
Inside curtain, remains of attached outbuildings on south and west. Ruins of brewhouse to west of C20 cottage on south. Remains of barn and byre on west; gable end to north is C18 reconstruction.
Well-preserved fortified perimeter of a Borders monastery. (Listed Building Report 1042012)

Tower and summerhouse: Tower built 1488 by Sir Henry Percy, summerhouse built and interior of tower remodelled 1778-9 by Robert Adam and 'Capability' Brown for 1st Duke of Northumberland. Squared stone with flat leaded roofs. Rectangular 2-storey summerhouse at north of friary west range, linked by bridge to tower on west. Gothick style.
West elevation (to cloister): Summerhouse 2 storeys, 3 bays, symmetrical. Central arched door flanked by windows, under linked ogee hoodmoulds with finials; broad 4-light window with intersecting tracery above. End bays have 2-light windows under square hoodmoulds, and quatrefoils containing marble reliefs of Duke and Duchess. Corbelled-out parapet with irregular crenellations. Left return 2 bays, with similar 2-light windows and central niche with cusped canopy. Right return 3 bays, similar fenestration except for plainer central niche. Rear shows half-glazed door on right, flanked by small windows with large window over; second door on left beneath bridge to tower. All doorways have applied Gothick panelling, all windows small-paned sashes with curved base to upper leaf and intersecting glazing bars in head. Bridge to tower has flat-pointed arch flanked by blank shields, with pointed window above between cruciform loops; embattled parapet.
Tower 2 tall storeys (originally 3). Pointed doorway on north; chamfered loops; large Gothick sashes on south and west at 1st floor level. Corbelled- out embattled parapet with angle turrets, those on east linked to form chamber with original canted oriel, with cinquefoil-headed lights and moulded parapet.
Interiors: Both ground and 1st floor rooms in the summerhouse have Gothick decor with carved fireplaces, crocketed ogee doorcases, niches and cornices; dogleg stair with stick balusters. High 1st-floor tower room with similar decoration; fireplace with contemporary ironwork, wooden dado rail, cornice with Percy crescents. Re-set in wall over fireplace is inscribed slab:
xx In the year of Crist Jhu MGCCC III VIII This towr was bilded by Sir He Percy The fourth Erle of Nortwberlad of gret hon and worth That espoused Maud ye good lady full of vertue and bewt Daughtr to Sir William Harbirt right noble and hardy Erle of Pembrock whose soulis god save And with his grace cosarve ye bilder of this towr
Tower retains original barrel-vaulted basement and mural stairs with shouldered lintels. (Listed Building Report 1049118)

The precinct walls of the friary are notable thick and form a compact circuit and do suggest that security was in the mind of the builder. The tower of 1488, built before the dissolution of the friary, seems to be have been built or adapted to become a high status residence, possibly a dower house or a place of retirement (The use of monastic houses as 'retirement homes' for the wealthy is a little reported function of such houses c.f. the house of Matilda de Well also built in a Carmelite Friary) or as a hunting lodge. The wealth of the inhabitant of such a tower may have made them a potential target for crime and security may well have been in mind but more important was to show their status and the prestige and martial qualities of the Percy family who solely paid for this tower (The cost was £27 19s. 8d. including 3s. to Christiana Paynter, for the armorial escutcheons of the Percy's)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
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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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