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Thropton Bastle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Peel; The Pele; West Farmhouse

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NU02710231
Latitude 55.31493° Longitude -1.95883°

Thropton Bastle has been described as a certain Bastle.

There are major building remains.

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


Bastle, built in C16 or early C17, altered in 1863 and extended in the late C20. Now a private house. Built of stone rubble with a Welsh slate roof. The ground floor of the bastle has a barrel vaulted roof with the original ladder hole near the south east corner. This is not the same as the vanished Thropton tower. Rectangular plan: 12.2 x 7.1m externally, with walls 1.50m thick. South elevation 3 storeys, 2 irregular bays: ground-floor windows of 1863 with rough-faced lintels and sills. Blocked slit between and traces of blocked opening on far left. 1st-floor windows in C18 tooled block surrounds; 3 small 2nd floor windows, the central with old chamfered surround and bar holes; all windows now C20 4-pane casements. Coped gables with stepped end stacks. West end shows traces of blocked 1st-floor window under relieving arch, and chamfered 2nd-floor loop. East end (now internal wall) shows central blocked byre entrance with rounded arrises to jambs and lintel and relieving arch above; 1st floor doorway above and to right has similar jambs and later head. North elevation shows original chamfered loop with bar holes in centre and small window, probably modification of an original loop, on right. To right is attached cartshed with hipped roof; boarded door and double doors on right return.
Interior: Ground floor has tall round-arched barrel vault, with original ladder hole near south-east corner and central cut-away section for C19 stair.
A well-preserved bastle house, carefully restored in recent years. (Listed Building Report)

This Bastle stands upon nearly level ground but is nearly defended on 3 sides by the River coquet and the Wreighburn. The building of two storeys with an attic below a gabled roof measures 12.2 m east-west, and 7.5 m north-south; the walls are 1.5 m thick at ground level. The ground floor is barrel vaulted through the length of the building, several small windows - some blocked - remain, and a doorway to the first floor in the east wall has been converted into a window, all other features are modern. The building, now a private dwelling, is constructed of large roughly fashioned stones upon a foundation of shaped boulders. (PastScape ref. Field Investigators Comments F1 FC 05-MAR-57)

The tower referred to in 15th and 16th century sources seems likely to have been the one destroyed in the 19th century when the Roman Catholic presbytery, at the opposite end of the village was rebuilt. The old part of the house is a rectangle in plan, 12.2m by 7.1m externally with walls 1.5m thick, of heavy rubble, roughly coursed with galleting; there is a 20th century extension to the east. The original byre entrance doorway is set centrally in the east gable; it has rounded arris to both jambs and lintel and a relieving arch above. There is a drawbar tunnel in the south jamb. A second doorway to the north (now glazed) is a late 19th century insertion, possibly made when the original doorway (re-opened c.1984) was blocked by an inserted internal stack, removed when the doorway was re-opened during recent restoration.
The basement of the bastle has a tunnel vault, 3.05m high at its apex; there is a small blocked hatch to the south of the byre doorway. A section of the vault near the centre has recently been restored after having been cut away for a staircase in the 19th century. Two windows in the south wall (the eastern recently converted into a doorway) have roughly faced lintels and sills and are thought to be insertions of c.1863. East of the western window are traces of a small opening that may have been an original loop. Further west in the wall is another blocked window of some size, possibly of 18th or early 19th century date. Another 19th century window in the centre of the west end may be an enlargement of an early loop.
At first floor level, the original upper doorway is set towards the north end of the east wall; it has similar jambs to the lower doorway and a renewed lintel. There is no evidence of any drawbar tunnel in its jambs. There is what appears to be an original loop, under a relieving arch, in the centre of the west end (now concealed internally by an inserted stack) and another near the centre of the north wall; this has a chamfered surround and sockets for a central bar. Two sash windows on the south have tooled block surrounds, perhaps of late 18th century date.
The west gable end shows possible traces of a heightening, a if the second floor is an addition, although this is not so clear in the side walls. In the west gable is a centre blocked loop with a chamfered surround; there is a similar window near the centre of the south wall at this level, between two larger (19th century?) openings. In the east gable end, above the roof of the 20th century extension, a small blocked window can just be traced; this is shown on a drawing of this end of the house made in 1885 by Robin Blair which also shows external stair with a covered porch at its head, rising to the first floor doorway. The roof structure is probably of 19th century date.
Although known as 'Thropton Pele', typologically this is very definitely a bastle, although one of quite superior status as shown by its vaulted basement and the positioning of both doorways in one gable end. The evidence visible in the western gable end suggests that the second storey is an addition, although perhaps one made at a relatively early date. The building is one of the better preserved of its type, despite having remained in constant domestic use. The 20th century eastern extension and recent restoration work, have both respected the original fabric. (Northumberland HER ref. Ryder 1994-5)

The was a tower at Thropton recorded in 1415. There has been some confabulation between that tower and this bastle but it is quite unlikely the C16 bastle represents a successor.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:10

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