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West Lilburn Tower–Proctor's Tower

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
West Lilbourne; Lylborn; West Lylburne; West Lilburne

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NU02182414
Latitude 55.51105° Longitude -1.96710°

West Lilburn Tower–Proctor's Tower has been described as a certain Pele Tower.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

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


The tower at Lilburn is reasonably well preserved and despite being a ruined structure, significant archaeological remains survive above and below ground level. A large proportion of the collapsed masonry lies on the surface and buried within and around the tower.
The monument includes the remains of West Lilburn tower, a late medieval tower situated on a spur of land above the valley of the Lilburn Burn. Although the ruins were conserved in 1933 and the upper storeys have largely collapsed, it includes the remains of an original solitary tower house thought to be of 15th century date. The tower, built of ashlar blocks with a rubble core, is rectangular in plan and measures 13.4m east-west by 9m north-south with walls 2.1m wide. Only the north wall now stands to any great height; it stands three storeys high to a height of c.11m for a length of c.6m and has an external chamfered plinth. From the north west corner the west wall stands for 2.5m to a height of 1.5m and has the remains of a splayed internal jamb of an opening. On the south side is a fragment of wall core standing up to 1.2m high; this may be a fallen fragment of masonry but it rests on in situ foundations. In the south east corner there is evidence of a mural chamber which may indicate the position of an entrance. A fragment of the east wall stands up to 1.2m high and elsewhere the foundations are visible up to a height of 0.2m except at the north east corner. Here, the remainder of the north wall has fallen outwards down to the foundations and lies in several large fragments over a distance of 12m. Although the basement of the tower has become partly infilled with rubble and masonry from the collapsed upper storeys, the springing of a barrel vault is visible on the internal face of the north wall. At first floor level there are two doorways on the internal face of the wall, one giving access to a mural stair, and part of a fireplace. Evidence of a cross wall suggests the tower was divided into a hall and smaller service room. The base of the stair is lit by a square window with sockets for a central iron bar; at second floor level the stair is lit by a similar window. The second floor room appears to have been undivided. Two garderobe chutes are visible in the north west corner, one at second floor level combining with that at first floor level and exiting at the foot of the wall. The tower is surrounded by a mound, up to 1.5m high, which is probably composed of fallen masonry rather than a feature on which the tower was originally built; the mound extends up to 5m beyond the walls of the tower. Documentary evidence records that a tower was built by the Lilburn family c.1400. By the early 16th century two towers are recorded and in 1541 the western tower is described in ruins whilst the eastern had been recently burnt. It is uncertain which tower the present remains represent. The tower was probably abandoned in the early 18th century when the forerunner of the present house called Lilburn Tower was built. (Scheduling Report)

In 1509 there were two Towers at West Lilburn the older one was probably built by Sir John de Lilburn who died c1400. In 1541 the western tower, belonging to Cuthbert Procter, was in ruins with only the walls standing, while the eastern tower, belonging to Sir Cuthbert Ogle, had lately been burnt". At present (1935) only one tower remains and it is not possible to determine which of the two towers it is. Judging from the external ashlar work the remains are of late 15 cent date. Except for some steps at SW corner, the remaining features are confined to a large three storied fragment of the East wall (Bates 1887-8, 1891; Hodgson 1828).
The tower measures 40' x 33' with walls 6' - the greater part of the North wall remains with the other walls only a few feet high - there is no trace of any outer buildings. Oblong in plan, of at least three-storey height, the only substantial part of the masonry still standing is on the N side.
The foundations measure 13.4 m E-W, 9.0 N-S, the walls are 2.1 thick. The N wall stands for approx 6m from the NW corner, to an approx height of 11m. Three fragments of the other sides are in site. From the NW corner, the W wall stands for 2.5m to a height of 1.5m. From the SE corner, the E wall stands for 2.5m to a height of 2.3m, and from the SW corner, the S wall stands for 3m to a height of 2m. Elsewhere, the foundations are visible up to a height of 0.2m, except on the NE corner. Here, the remainder of the N wall has fallen outwards down to the foundations, and lies over a distance of 12m, in several large fragments.
The walls are constructed of cemented rubble, faced on the exterior with well-shaped sandstone blocks, bonded and coursed, and faced on the interior with shaped assorted sizes of sandstone blocks, not coursed or bonded (First OS Archaeology Field Investigator 29/11/1955). (PastScape)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:10

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