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Haughton Castle, Humshaugh

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Houghton; Hawghton

In the civil parish of Humshaugh.
In the historic county of Northumberland.
Modern Authority of Northumberland.
1974 county of Northumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY919729
Latitude 55.05063° Longitude -2.12804°

Haughton Castle, Humshaugh has been described as a certain Tower House, and also as a probable Pele Tower.

There are major building remains.

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


Castle. C13, remodelled and heightened C14. Alterations c.1780, c.1816 and 1845 by John Dobson. West wing 1876 by Anthony Salvin; further internal alterations 1889. Heavy coursed rubble with dressings, west wing squared stone with ashlar dressings; flat leaded roofs; external stair to east under timber canopy hung and roofed with stone slates. Rectangular tower-house with angle turrets.
South elevation 5 storeys, 5 bays, irregular, partly concealed by ivy at time of survey. 2-storey arcade of blocked segmental-pointed arches, the central partly behind 1845 2-storey oriel with 2-light 1st floor and 3-light 2nd floor windows. 1st floor shows 2-light C19 windows to right of oriel bay; 2nd floor three 2-light C14 windows with transoms and trefoiled heads, partly renewed; elsewhere various chamfered loops. Embattled parapet with taller end turrets and corbelled-out centre turret. To left, west wing in 2 sections; slightly- projecting left part 3 storeys, 2 bays, with arched doorway; right part 2 storeys, 3 bays; 2- and 3-light transomed windows; embattled parapets.
East elevation shows 1812 external stair with late C19 canopy; above left 1845 oriel to oratory; to right projecting turret with chamfered set-backs and 7 levels of chamfered loops.
North elevation similar to south, with tall blocked arches and central 1845 bay. C16 2- and 3-light transomed windows with round-headed lights to 2nd floor, some restored. End turrets show corbelled-out garderobes at different levels.
Interior: basement has parallel axial segmental vaults with chamfered ribs. Mural stair at east end to 1st floor, newel stair to upper floors in south-west turret. Various mural chambers including former 1st-floor entrance lobby on south, with good moulded C13 doorway, and 2nd floor oratory with piscina in south-east turret. Fittings and furnishings mostly C19, but including 2 richly- carved C17 overmantels from Derwentwater House, Newcastle.
The mid-C13 hall house may have had a 2-storey hall block with a taller solar tower at the east end, the whole heightened in the C14 when the arcades (a defensive feature, meurtriere in the arch soffits protecting the wall foot) were infilled. (Listed Building Report)

Haughton Castle dates back to at least the 14th century, when it was fortified. It was first called a castle in 1373 when the original tower house was heightened and turrets were added together with parapet walks. At this time the castle was owned by Gerald Widdrington and, although it was still owned by the Widdringtons in the early 14th century, the Swinburns were living in it. By the 16th century the castle seems to have been falling into disrepair and ruin and an attack by Border reivers in 1541 saw nine horses and goods worth £40 stolen from it. No major improvements were carried out until the early 19th century when it was turned into a fashionable country house and parkland was laid out.
The early development of the castle shows it was an upper floor hall house with turrets and a parapet added in the 14th century. Outside, there is a unique feature in the blocked five bay arcade of tall pointed arches in each long wall. Inside the castle the basement has vaulted sections with small loop openings. The basement has been altered to create and opening into the 19th century extension. Above the basement are three or four floors in different parts of the castle. Outside the castle a 16th century drawing shows a barmkin and gateway to the south. Traces of the barmkin are apparently visible in dry weather as parchmarks on the lawns. The castle is probably one of the earliest 13th century upper floor hall houses in Northumberland and must be one of the best preserved hall houses in the north of England. (Keys to the Past)

In its original form this was probably a chamber tower attached to a hall house (i.e a 'pele tower') but was altered in the C14 into tower house. Both the Swinburn's and Widdrington's were gentry (knightly) families but at the top end of that social bracket with baronial aspirations (which William Widdrington achieved in the C17).
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Geldard, Ed, 2009, Northumberland Strongholds (London: Frances Lincoln) p. 29
      Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 362-4
      Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 62-3
      Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 97-100
      Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 186-7
      Dixon, P., 1992, 'From Hall to Tower: The Change in Seigneurial Houses on the Anglo-Scottish Border after c. 1250' in P.R. Coss and S.D. Lloyd (eds) Thirteenth Century England IV Proceedings of the Newcastle upon Tyne Conference 1991 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 85-107
      Jackson, M.J.,1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle) p. 77-
      Pevsner, N., 1992 (revised by Grundy, John et al), Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 306-7
      Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 10, 11, 44, 56, 63
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 335
      Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 239-40
      Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 190-4
      Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 115-16
      Pevsner, N., 1957, Buildings of England: Northumberland (London) p. 160
      Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1940, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 15 p. 203-20
      Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles (1970 Reprint by Frank Graham) p. 119-21
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Tomlinson, W.W., 1897, Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 199-201
      Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 393 online copy
      Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 11, 15, 17, 47 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)
      Hutchinson, Wm, 1776, A View of Northumberland (Newcastle) Vol. 1 p. 177 online transcription
  • Periodical Articles
    • King, Andy, 2007, 'Fortress and fashion statements: gentry castles in fourteenth-century Northumberland' Journal of Medieval History Vol. 33 p. 376
      1993-94, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 4 p. 8
      Simpson, W.D., 1951, 'Haughton Castle' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 29 p. 118-134
      Hodgson, J.C., 1916, 'List of Ruined Towers, Chapels, etc., in Northumberland; compiled about 1715 by John Warburton, Somerset Herald, aided by John Horsley' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser3) Vol. 13 p. 14 abridged transcription
      1893, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 6 p. 62
      Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 11, 15, 17, 47 online copy
      Hall, G. Rome, 1885-6, 'Historic Notices of Haughton Castle, North Tynedale' History of the Berwickshire Naturalist Club Vol. 11 p. 145-59 online copy
      Hall, 1880-5, Transactions of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland Vol. 3 p. 33-48
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
    • 1541, View of the Castles, Towers, Barmekyns and Fortresses of the Frontier of the East and Middle Marches Survey of the East and Middle Marches
      1415, Nomina Castrorum et Fortaliciorum infra Comitatum Northumbrie online transcription
      Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 360-1
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 4 Tynedale District Vol. 2 p. 105-12
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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