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Falstone Farmhouse

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NY72398738
Latitude 55.17995° Longitude -2.43493°

Falstone Farmhouse has been described as a certain Bastle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

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


House, incorporating a bastlehouse. Probably 1604, raised by extra storey mid C18, extended to right early C19.
Older section large random masonry with boulder plinth, C19 section ashlar; Welsh slate roof. 3 storeys. Irregular openings.
Almost central C19 porch with door on right return. To left a C17 window, lengthened to door and mullion removed C18. 1st and 2nd floors each have a sash window in early C19 chamfered surround. On 1st floor disturbed masonry may indicate position of 1st-floor doorway.
C19 right bay has 16-pane sashes on ground and 1st floor and shorter 12-pane sash above.
Gabled roof with flat-coping and banded end stacks. Continuous C18 outshut to rear.
Interior: Original ground-floor doorway now within later extension; roll- moulded lintel and right jamb, the left jamb cut away; lintel inscribed with letters and the date ABCDEFG 1604 HK. Ground floor of bastle has high round barrel vault, partly removed at east end to insert mid-C18 staircase with turned balusters and square knops. Walls c.5ft. thick. (Listed Building Report)

The house of Mr Robson, the present (1825) laird of Falstone, is a 'peel house'. Access to the upper floor, where the family lodged, was by trap door. The lower apartment for the cattle, had a door secured by a large 'oaken bolt' (Mackenzie 1825).
Above the door of the old pele to the south of the church at Falstone is the inscription 'ABCDEFG 1604 HK' (Bates 1891).
The old door of the pele is on the south east side where there is a later addition (MacLauchlan 1867).
The peel of Falstone farm is of two storeys, gabled, and has walls 1.6m thick. It is now incorporated in the farm house. The original entrance in the south east wall is retained as an internal doorway, and still has above it the inscription referred to by Bates. The letters 'H' and 'K', following the date are much larger than those preceding it, and may be the initials of the builder. No traces remain of the bolt-holes for the 'oaken bolt' referred to by Mackenzie) The barrel vaulted lower apartment has been converted into a living room and the trap door which was the only access to the upper chamber has been blocked up leaving no trace of its former position. Access is now provided by a doorway from the second floor of the later apartments. The peel is situated on the south west facing slope of a hill and within a bend in the Falstone Burn. The near bank of the burn being steep and approximately 2.5m deep provided natural protection to the south west side; the burn would also have been a convenient source of water. To the south and west the peel commands a wide view of the valley of the river North Tyne, but is itself overlooked by higher ground from the north and north east. Its vulnerability from those directions, however, would have been somewhat reduced by the gentleness of the slopes for the first hundred metres or so from the peel (F1 DAD 03-AUG-1956).
NY 725875 Farmhouse incorporating bastle (Ramm et al 1970).
Bastle 11m x 7.05m externally with walls c1.4m thick of massive rubble, roughly coursed in parts, with megalithic roughly-shaped quoins. Two-storeyed but unusually tall. South elevation shows late 17th or early 18th century window, formerly of two lights, to right of 19th century porch; above is 18th century stair window on right and early 19th century first floor window with traces of original window to right of it. To right is 18th century extension with inserted late 18th/early 19th century sash windows. West elevation shows probable blocked basement slit a little north of centre, and two 20th century windows. Interior: basement has lofty barrel vault; east part cut away when mid-18th century stair inserted. Square-headed byre door in centre east end (inside 18th century extension) has roll-moulded surround and panel on lintel inscribed 'ABCDEFG1604HK'. First floor room has two stone cupboards at south west corner and 18th century fireplace. Small attic above landing on stairs shows curved recess in south east corner of bastle, with blocked loop on east, suggesting an original stair position (cf Woodhouses); also corbel on east wall for attic floor, and blocked loop in attic. Later phases of house and associated farmbuildings (some ruinous) are all of interest; full survey desirable. Pieces of an important 8th/9th century cross shaft have been found built into the farmhouse and its garden wall (Ryder, P F 3-JUL-1990 Site visit).
Falstone Farm, incorporating a bastle, stands on the south side of the churchyard at Falstone, facing south at the head of a short but steep slope dropping to the floor of the North Tyne valley. The bastle measures 11m by 7.05m externally, and is of two storeys, the lower floor unusually tall. An 18th century extension at the east end is of the same height but of three storeys; at the rear is a full-length 18th or early 19th century outshut. The bastle is built of amssive rubble, roughly coursed in parts, with some galleting; the east extension and outshut are of coursed roughly-tooled stone and the small 19th century porch of neatly-squared tooled stone. The bastle walls are about 1.45m thick at basement level, reducing a little above. The original byre doorway, in the centre of the east end, now forms a recess inside the modern kitchen within the 18th century extension; it is square-headed, and has roll-moulded surround, cut back to a broad chamfer on the north jamb. The lintel has a sunk panel with the relief-carved 'inscription' ABCDEFG 1604 HK'; this provides interesting evidence of the degree of literacy of the builders and owners of even a rather superior bastle like this one. On the south of the bastle basement is an 18th century square-headed and chamfered doorway, inside the 19th century porch, and further west a two-light mullioned window (perhaps of about 1700), enlarged and latered but retaining its original head. Above the porch is an 18th century stair window, and at first-floor level a late 18th or 19th century window with to its left parts of the jambs and sill of a small window that may have had a roll-moulded surround; heavy pointing (the exterios of the bastle has been harled or rendered at some stage) obscures any detail. The west end of the bastle has a 20th century doorway, with a possible blocked slit above and a little to the north of centre, and at first floor level a 20th century window. The 18th century eastern extension has various sash windows; those on the south appear to be late 18th or early 19th century insertions, and those in the east end are 20th century. The ground floor of the bastle has a quite tall semicircular barrel vault; its apex is 3.3m above the present ground floor. At the east end part of the vault has been removed to allow the insertion of a mid-18th century stair; the stair is now divided from the vaulted basement by a cross wall 0.55m thick which is carried up to attic level. The present first floor room has a modern wooden floor about 0.3m above the original level. In its south-west corner are two small wall cupboards, one in each wall; there is an 18th century basket-arched fireplace. A trapdoor above the landing halfway up the stairs allows access to a small attic above the southern part of the stairwell, from which a number of interesting features are visible. At this level the inner face of the south wall of the bastle has a curved recess at its eastern end, lit by a small window (blocked) in the adjacent east wall. This recess and window position duplicate those at Woodhouses bastle where they are associated with an original staircase. A large corbel on the east wall and flat slabs capping the cross wall both appear to be associated with the floor of a former attic, which was lit by another small window in the apex of the east gable.
The Falstone Farm bastle thus appears to have been a member of the small group of rather upmarket bastle houses distinguished by their possession of an internal staircase. The height of the basement vault would have meant that an external stair or ladder of the usual type would have had to be inordinately long. The site of the bastle may also be of archaeological significance; adjacent to a churchyard of ancient origins (Falstone was a medieval chapel of ease) it may well have replaced a medieval house. In addition, fragments of an important eighth or nonth century cross shaft were found reused in the walls of both the farmhouse and its garden in the late 19th century, suggesting that a pre-Conquest ecclesiastical site lies close to hand. The house, described by Grundy as 'one of the most intersting vernacular buildings within the park', is worthy of a detailed architectural survey; it also has associated farm buildings of considerable interest (Ryder 1990). (Northumberland HER)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:28

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