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Otterburn Tower

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Otterburn Castle; Otiburne

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NY88749315
Latitude 55.23245° Longitude -2.17831°

Otterburn Tower has been described as a certain Tower House.

There are no visible remains.

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


Country house, now hotel. After 1830 for Mr. James incorporating the masonry of an C18 house which may in turn contain earlier work. Extended to rear 1904 by F.W. Rich for Howard Pease. Dressed stone with ashlar dressings, Welsh slate roofs. Castellated Tudor style. Complex and irregular plan. (Listed Building Report)

The tower of Otterburn Castle seems to have been in existence before the middle of the 13C for after the death of Gilbert de Umfreville in 1245, the Escheat mentions the "Manor of Otterburn", and 163 acres of demesne lands which plainly imply a residence, probably a Pele Tower. In 1308, a 'capital messuage' is mentioned, which doubtless was the tower referred to by Froissart, 80 years later, before the Battle of Otterburn. This tower seems to have remained unchanged until the mid-18C, when Reginald Hall added to the old Pele, a square building of the Scots farm house style. In 1830, the estate was sold to Thomas James, who pulled down much of the old building, and rebuilt it in the castellated style. The 20C additions have been chiefly at the back of the Tower (Pease 1924).
The old Pele is built into the east wing of the house. At the rear of it, and now within the servants quarters, is the old well. Formerly there was probably a barmkin on this side. A spot to the north-west of the house and close to a burn which flows on that side is the traditional site of a still older tower, the foundations of which were once unearthed during gardening operations (Hugill 1939).
No remains of the Pele can be seen now, in or around the Hotel. There are no traces of a tower to be seen to the north-west of the hotel. The well lies 9.0m to the north of the known foundations of the Pele. It is about 1.0m in diameter, and from about 5 feet downwards, is constructed of rough-fashioned stone, and is of considerable age.
The remains of the Pele are situated, at approx 520 feet above sea level, upon a level place against a general south-west slope. The site commands the valley of the Otter burn to the north, and the valley of the River Rede to the west, south and east. The Otter provides a natural defence, flowing down a steep-sided ravine to the west (F1 ASP 24.05.57). (PastScape)

A tower stood on this site from the mid C13 and may have been incorporated into C18 house, most of which was demolished prior to the construction of the present building. Built by the de Umfravilles and the 'capital messuage' mentioned here in 1308 was described as 'very strong' in 1388 when it withstood a Scottish siege. The actual form of the de Umfravilles tower is not known but they were barons and this is likely to have been a sizeable building. The C19 building was built in a castlellated style and it is possible some popular histories of the site include a fanciful element associated with an aggrandisement of this C19 building and its builder.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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