Peartree Cottages, Wall

Has been described as a Certain Bastle, and also as a Certain Urban Defence

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NamePeartree Cottages, Wall
Alternative NamesSt Oswalds Cottages; Cassop Cottage
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishWall

One of a terrace of 3 houses; C17, altered late C18. Rubble with dressings; Welsh slate roof with rendered, stone and brick stacks. 2 storeys, 6 bays. 2 boarded doors in raised alternating-block surrounds and one 4-panel door in moulded surround with flattened triangular head, lintel with relief inscription FEARE TK GOD 16 42 IN HART. Renewed fenestration in C18/19 openings; blocked C17 BK window to right of 2nd door. Coped gables, left with rendered stack,at right with yellow brick stack showing dog-tooth cornice; 2 ridge stacks, one stepped, one rendered. Left return shows blocked ground-floor slit, right return blocked 1st-floor slit beside window in former doorway with irregular stone surround. Probable example of terrace of bastle houses; at least two phases of C17 masonry visible. (Listed Building Report)

Peartree Cottage (formerly Cassop Cottage) and the adjacent cottage to the east form the east end of the long row of buildings on the north side of the village green at Wall; this group was also known as St Oswald's Cottages. The main body of Peartree Cottage (excluding a relatively recent rear extension) measures c.13.3m by 6.85m externally; its fabric varies between large rubble and roughly squared and roughly coursed stone, with large roughly shaped quoins. The front wall is c.0.8m thick but the rear (north) wall only 0.65m. The front elevation is of two storeys and three broad bays; until recently the western bay and the remainder formed separate cottages. The present openings are all of early 19th century character, but the western jamb and part of the sill of an earlier window, probably with a chamfered surround, are visible to the west of the ground floor window in the third bay. Above the present front doorway, in the centre bay, is a triangular block that resembles the apex of a shallow gabled porch (cf NY 96 NW 51 and 53)

The east end of the building shows what appears to be a central slit vent, alongside an inserted doorway with a timber lintel (now blocked) and below a blocked window (set rather below the present first floor level) with a timber lintel. The outline of a lower gable is visible above this, indicating that the original building was probably only of a single storey with an attic. At the west end of the house, the original angle quoins confirm this heightening, only extending to around the present first floor level; above this is a second set of quoins running in the opposite direction, and set some distance further west, showing that the adjacent cottage, although a later building, had been raised to its present height before Peartree Cottage was given its upper floor. A similar arrangement is seen in the rear wall, with the difference here that the rear wall of Peartree Cottage has been either rebuilt or thinned back, leaving only the lower metre or so of its original north east angle quoins in situ. Inside Peartree Cottage there is a marked contrast between the ceiling timbers of the two ground floor rooms. Those in the western room include a series of heavy roughly shaped transverse beams, of typical bastle character; the eastern room is spanned by a heavy transverse beam with broad chamfers, with large concave stops, carrying joists which are individually chamfered and stopped; there are further transverse beams just within the east and west walls; the present chimney breast is clearly an insertion. The eastern cottage, of two storeys and two narrow bays, is built of coursed roughly squared stone, with a boulder plinth. Like Peartree Cottage it has been heightened; a course of thin stones, just below the first floor window sills, appears to mark an old eaves line; a few stones of the original coping of a lower gable are preserved in the east end wall. The front doorway, in the western bay, has a flat pointed head within a square frame, and a quite elaborately moulded surround; upon its lintel is the raised inscription: FEARE GOD 16 TK/BK 42 IN HART. One of the western jamb stones of the doorway is notched into the adjacent phase I quoin of Peartree Cottage. In the east end wall a blocked slit is visible, at what must have been the level of the original attic or first floor (in an equivalent position to that of the blocked window in the west end of Peartree Cottage). To the north of this is a former first floor doorway, with a surround of 18th century character, now reduced to a window and formerly served by an external stone stair. Interior of eastern cottage not seen. The four structural phases evidence externally - the construction of Peartree Cottage, the addition of the eastern cottage, the heightening of the eastern cottage and finally the heightening of Peartree Cottage, all probably fall within the 17th century. What is less clear is the original form and function of the two buildings. The ceiling in the eastern ground floor room of Peartree Cottage is of some sophistication, befitting a principal living room, but the timbers in the western room are more characteristic of a bastle (as is the slit vent in the western wall). There are two possibilities: i) that the building was a bastle, but one remodelled in the mid 17th century, when the owners created a new living room out of the eastern part of the byre. ii) that the building was originally a long house, with living accommodation and byre on the same level, perhaps separated by a cross passage. The low eaves line of the original building rather suggests a long house origin. It is not clear whether the eastern cottage was added as a separate dwelling, or as part of the same house; there does appear to be a blocked door in the northern part of the internal cross wall between the two properties; once again there may have been a long house arrangement after the addition, with a cross passage (and a byre or some other non domestic apartment) in the addition. The 1642 front doorway may date this addition, or might be a later insertion (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

Gatehouse Comments

One of a number of strongly built houses and bastles around the original large green, now somewhat encroached upon, of Wall village which, as a group, make the whole village defensible. This is a building which does show some of the difficulties of differentiating between a strongly built longhouse and a bastle.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY917690
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  • Grint, Julia, 2008, Bastles an introduction to the bastle houses of Northumberland (Hexham: Ergo Press) p. 137-45
  • Ryder, Peter, 2004, 'Towers and bastles in Northumberland National Park' in Frodsham, P., Archaeology in the Northumberland National Park (CBA Research report 136) p. 262-271
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 353


  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 4 Tynedale District Vol. 2 p. 151-2
  • Ryder, P.F., 1990, Northumberland Bastles Survey Unpublished p. 11