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Tow House Old Workshop, Henshaw

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NY76706435
Latitude 54.97328° Longitude -2.36549°

Tow House Old Workshop, Henshaw has been described as a Bastle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are major building remains.

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


Probably a bastle house, now workshop. Late C16-early C17 with alterations. Squared rubble, corrugated-asbestos roof. Probably originally 2 storeys, now a long low single-storey building, Massive roughly-squared quoins. Doorway unusually set in centre of long wall rather than gable end: huge roughly-squared alternating jambs and lintel with cambered top; chamfered inner edges, deep rebate and drawbar socket. Boulder plinth and partly-blocked window on right return. C20 openings on rear. Pitched roof. (Listed Building Report)

Solitary form bastle, measures 13m x 7m. Byre entrance in long wall. Present state - farm building (Ryder 1990).
Old Workshop at Tow House: On the east side of the lane that runs through the hamlet of Tow House are a range of ruinous farm buildings with one building that retains a roof (of corrugated iron). This has some affinities with bastle houses.
The building measures c.12.7m by 6.1m externally, with walls of roughly coursed rubble, with large roughly shaped quoins; the east wall is of more regularly squared stone and seems to have been largely rebuilt. The roadside wall is only 0.6m thick, and the east wall c.0.75m; both gables are nearer 1m in thickness. The building is now single storeyed, although originally there has been a low upper floor or attic. The west wall has a square headed doorway, set a little south of centre, which has a narrow chamfer and a surround of massive blocks; there is a drawbar tunnel in the north jamb. North of the doorway is a tiny loop near the top of the wall, but apart from this the roadside wall is otherwise featureless.
The south gable end has two similar windows, one above the other. Both have timber lintels; the lower is now blocked but the upper has been of four lights, with a timber frame and mullions, only one of which survives. The east wall has a doorway and two quite large windows, as well as a smaller opening just below the eaves; all seem to be related to the rebuilt section of the wall, and may be of 19th century date. Internally there is a cross wall, probably an insertion, immediately south of the doorways; it is built beneath a heavy beam which formerly carried the loft or upper floor. The present roof structure is of 20th century date, replacing a pair of full cruck trusses; the ragged holes for these remain in the internal wall faces and the timbers themselves (heavily decayed) lie outside the east wall. The stub of another loft beam survives alongside one cruck socket, showing that the beams ran adjacent to, but were apparently not physically connected with, the crucks.
At the north end of the building an internal stack, with a fireplace with a range and an arched recess for the copper, replaces an earlier firehood (the sides at least of which were of stone), the outline (and ragged fragments) of which can be seen on the wall behind.
At the south end of the buildings are what appear to be the sockets for another floor beam immediately adjacent to the end wall, and a blocked wall cupboard to the east of the lower window.
This a difficult building to classify. It would appear to have been a three bay stone walled cruck house (and as such is probably unique in the county); although its doorway and the character of its masonry are very much of bastle type, the size of the windows in the south gable, and the relatively thin walls, suggest that it was not a seriously defensible building. In this area crucks are generally associated with heather thatch, which is not a fire resistant roofing material.
The date of the structure is difficult to ascertain. It might be contemporary with local bastles (is early 17th century) although it is perhaps safer to put it in the period 1650-1700 (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

A single storey building with attic, rather than a two storey building, so not a peel-house but an example of how vernacular architecture does not follow a few simple forms but is varied.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:28

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