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Hethpool Tower

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NT89652835
Latitude 55.54884° Longitude -2.16547°

Hethpool Tower has been described as a certain Pele Tower, and also as a probable Bastle.

There are major building remains.

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


Hethpool tower is in reasonable condition and retains significant archaeological information. It will contribute to any future studies of medieval architecture and settlement patterns.
The monument includes the ruins of a 14th century medieval tower house situated in the garden of Hethpool House, on a tongue of land in the confluence of the Elsdon and College Burns. The ruin, which is Listed Grade II, consists of three walls of a square building measuring 7m square. It stands to a height of two storeys, with the south west and south east walls measuring 1.6m thick. The north east wall is only 0.6m thick. The south east wall has an internal set back at first floor level, and a central recess or window above. The building seems to be unusually small for a permanent dwelling, but a reference dating to 1541 referred to it as a 'lytle stone house or pyle' at Hethpool 'whiche ys a greate releyffe to the tennants'. This implies that it was used as an occasional refuge. Fallen masonry on the northern side of the tower is included in the scheduling. (Scheduling Report)

Ruined towerhouse. C14. Random rubble. 3 sides of the tower stand to c.20 ft. and are almost entirely covered by ivy. No recognisable features. (Listed Building Report)

A ruined tower still stands in the garden of Hethpool House towards the north east end of the village. This is probably to be identified with the 'Turris de Hethepulle' recorded in the hands of Robert Manors, in the list of border fortifications compiled for Henry V, prior to the king's embarkation for France in 1415 (cf. Bates 1891, 17), and may be further equated with the 'little stone house or pile' noted in Bowes and Ellerker's Border survey of 1541 (Bates 1891, 32).
On Christopher Dacre's plat or plan of the castles, towers and townships along 'the plenished ringe of the borders' in 1584, it is labelled Hethpole towr' and shown, schematically, as a tower, plus a collection of houses signifying an inhabited village township (PRO MPF 284; reproduced in Bates 1891, between pages 78 and 79; and Long 1967, facing p. 186, cf. p. 47). Although the RCHME (Ramm et al 1970, 89) suggest the extant remains represent those of a bastle, Ryder considers it to most likely to have been a small tower, and there is no reason which all the known documentary references could not apply to such a structure, perhaps with a stone dwelling house attached.
The inclusion of Hethpool Tower in the 1415 list of castle and towers implies it was constructed during the 14th century or perhaps at the very beginning of the 15th century. The Manners family are first mentioned at Hethpool in 1336 when one messuage was settled on Robert Manners and his son. The County History suggests this tenement may be identified with the half a carucate of land (50-60 acres) held by Stephen de Coupland for a thirtieth of a knight's fee in 1242 (NCH XI (1922), 266), but there is no conclusive link between the two holdings.
Robert Manners is further mentioned holding land at Hethpool in 1345, and on his death in 1354, he was still seised of a single messuage there worth 3s. 4d yearly. The Robert Manners who held the tower in 1415 was presumably a descendent of this earlier Robert, but there is no other reference to the family at Hethpool during the medieval period. The County History suggests that Thomas Haisandes, whose name is inserted in the margin of the 1415 list next to Hethpool Tower, may represent the tower's inhabitant, presumably leasing it from Robert Manners (op. cit., 267, n.1).
The tenement was presumably the same as that known as Tower Lands or Tower Farms in 1688, when it was held by Katherine Grey (op. cit., 260, 267). As the County History points out, however, it is unclear why the Manners should have made such a relatively substantial investment - in the form of building the tower – in a township of which they held such a small proportion, even if the tower was quite small by comparison with many others of the type. (Northumberland National Park website)

King (1983) seems to have read Ramm et al as suggesting a separate bastle here, indeed he writes it "is about a quarter of a mile from the older tower" but as far as Gatehouse is able to establish there is nothing to support this and Ramm et al meant this building. This is a building which demonstrates the difficulty in differentiating between pele towers and pele houses (bastles). It seems to originate c. 1400 and probably originally had an attached hall making it clearly a pele tower, although a small example of the form. However it is possible by c. 1600 it was functioning as a tenanted farmhouse and was modified to function as a pele house.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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