Langley Castle

Has been described as a Certain Tower House

There are major building remains

NameLangley Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishHaydon

Castle, c.1350 restored by Cadwallader Bates c. 1900. Squared stone, roofs not visible. Large and impressive tower-house consisting of a rectangular 4-storeyed central block with square 5-storey angle towers projecting from the longer east and west faces. Later C14 forebuilding containing entrance and newel stair set in re-entrant angle of south-east tower and east front. East elevation with pointed double-chamfered entrance arch in forebuilding and various windows, some restored. South elevation with twin stepped buttresses capped by corbelled-out circular bartizans. Central door and flanking windows and 1st floor windows C19, other windows C14, some restored. Garderobe projections with arched openings on south and west side of base of south-west tower. West elevation has a variety of traceried windows, some C19 and some restored C14. All ground floor openings C19. North elevation similar to south, C19 ground floor door, restored C14 windows. Embattled parapets, bartizans and turrets all C19 although probably a reasonably correct restoration. Interior; all floors and woodwork C19, C14 doorways, fireplaces, vaulted guardrooms in forebuilding etc. Elaborate garderobe arrangements in south-west tower.

Probably the finest tower-house in Northumberland, Langley Castle is thought to have been built by Sir Thomas de Lucy and later belonged to the Earl of Northumberland. It was already a roofless ruin in 1541 but remained a tolerably intact shell until Bates' restoration. (Listed Building Report)


This is a very fine example of a tower-built house of the latter half of the fourteenth century. The central space is oblong, about 80 feet long by 24 wide internally : this space has not been vaulted, but was divided by floors into four stories ; the putlog-holes for the beams and the corbels of the wooden ceilings remain

One window at the west end retains its tracery of late flowing character, inclined to Flamboyant ; the other windows have all lost their tracery excepting fragments. At each corner of this building is a large square tower, or turret, and on the north side, attached to the north-west turret, is another square building, containing a large round staircase, and a series of small vaulted rooms on the west side of it, between the staircase and the corner turret. The entrance is by a doorway and passage at the foot of the stairs, and there is no other entrance, nor any other staircase, through- out the building ; the entrance is protected by a portcullis only : there is a series of doorways from the staircase to the principal apartments, and small ones to the side chambers : the doorway on the first floor has Decorated mouldings and shafts with foliaged capitals ; the other doorways are all plain. There are three fire-places on each floor, but the internal partitions, having been of wood, are entirely destroyed, and the exact arrangement cannot now be made out, especially as the inner surface of the walls has been stripped of its ashlaring. In the south-west tower there is a series of garderobes, four arches for seats recessed in the south wall on each floor, each row behind the one below it, with flues exactly like chimney flues, to the pit below, through which a stream of water was turned. A similar arrangement may be seen at Wells, and in many other places, but here it is remarkably perfect; whether these seats were enclosed in wooden closets or not it is difficult now to decide, but there is no appearance of it; the chambers into which they open were about twelve feet square, with a doorway on each floor from the principal apartment. On the ground floor, which has been vaulted, and has oillets for defence, there are two garderobe closets in the thickness of the wall, slightly projecting externally in the south angles, with vaulted roofs. The three other towers had the two lower rooms vaulted, and without fire- places ; the two upper stories had wooden floors, and had fire-places.

The windows of the towers are either mere loops, or are square-headed, those of the other part of the building protected by the towers have been of two lights, with tracery. At the two ends the towers are flush with the face of the building, the junction marked only by tall buttresses, at the top of each of which was a small turret corbelled out in a very bold manner, of which fragments only remain ; enough to shew that these turrets were higher than the battlements. The chimneys are carried up in the thickness of the wall, and terminate in the merlons of the battlement. There is the corbel of a garderobe projecting from one of the upper stories. The vaulted chamber on the ground floor of the building adjoining the entrance, opens externally, and has no internal communication with the house ; it was probably a stable ?.

The whole building is of one period, and externally is in fine preservation, with good ashlar masonry. There is no appearance of any moat or external defence ; the builders seem to have relied on the strength of the building itself. It was the capital seat of the barony of Tyndale, and came by marriage to the Botleby's and Lucy's ; and again, by the marriage of Maud, heiress of Antony, lord Lucy, and widow of Gilbert de Umfranville, to Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland in 1383, which marriage united the large possessions of the Umfranville's and Lucy's in the Percy family, and by this lord Percy the castle was rebuilt. It remained the property of the Percy family until 1567 ; it afterwards came to the Ratcliffe's of Dilston, and was forfeited by James the last earl of Derwentwater in 1745. It is now the property of Greenwich Hospital, and much neglected by the trustees of that establishment. The interior has evidently been destroyed by fire. (Turner and Parker 1853)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY834624
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  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
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Primary Sources

  • Sir Robert Bowes, 1550, A Book of the State of the Frontiers and Marches betwixt England and Scotland taken from Brit. Mus. Cotton. MS. Titus, F.13, a copy of the original (see Bates, 51, n185). Printed in Hodgson, [pt.3, ii, 187, 226-7 >]
  • 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. 362-3
  • B.M. Cotton MS. Caligula B. vii (Survey of 1541) British Library collection information (in [Bates 1891 p. 48 >])
  • B.M. Cotton MS. Titus F. 13 (Survey of 1550) British Library collection information (in [Hodgson, 1828, History of Northumberland part 3 vol. 2 p. 244-5 >])
  • SC11/959 (Survey of 1538) The National Archives reference
  • SP14/49/82 (Survey of 1609) The National Archives reference


  • Coombes, L.C., 1990, A History of Langley Barony, Northumberland (manuscript copy in Hexham Library)