Bearnshaw Tower

Has been described as a Possible Pele Tower

There are no visible remains

NameBearnshaw Tower
Alternative NamesBernshaw; Besyngshaw; Besingshaw
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityCalderdale
1974 AuthorityWest Yorkshire
Civil ParishTodmorden

Small turreted stone tower. Collapsed about 1860, apparent as a result of digging for a legendary pot of gold. (Gibson)

Bernshaw Tower, formerly a small fortified house, is now in ruins, little else than the foundations being visible above the surface. (Harland and Wilkinson, 1873)

At the extreme north of the parish on a commanding eminence overlooking the Portsmouth valley and almost under the shadow of Eagle Cragg is a small farmhouse known by this name. Past it runs a little brook which rises in Tower Clough, and below it is Tower Wood. Its position and surroundings would suggest that here once stood a fortified house with its moat around it, and doubtless it was this which led Roby to select this spot for the scene of his legend of "The Lancashire Witches." It is scarcely necessary to say that Lady Sibell, "the proud maiden of Bernshaw Tower," was just as much a creature of his imagination as were the "spectre huntsman" and the "milk white doe" which met upon the cragg . All that is known about the Tower is that until about twenty years ago, at one end of the farmhouse, was a small turretted building, and the tradition was that under it lay buried a "chest" of gold, and in digging for this hidden treasure the building was undermined and fell down. The house now standing has undergone considerable alterations during the last fifty years, but the oldest part will not date back beyond the middle of the seventeenth century. Upon a stone built into the wall is inscribed "A . L., I.L., 1673," which refers to the Lomax family, who were then the owners

Richard Lomax of Pilsworth in the parish of Middleton, by his will, dated 18th October, 1587 left his lands to his son James (also of Pilsworth), who died 4th December, 1624, seised of twenty acres of land, and twenty acres of moor and turbary and a house in Todmorden, which he held of the King in socage; his son and heir was Richard Lomax, aged twelve years, and Margaret was his (James's) widow. In the Manor Survey of 1626 the heirs of James Lummax are reported to hold a messuage in Todmorden called Besinghan Towne (Bernshaw Tower). From the Lomaxes the property went by purchase to the Townleys of Townley, and is now in the possession of Lady Emily Gordon Lennox, second daughter of the late Colonel Charles Townley. (Fishwick)

Not scheduled

Not Listed

County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSD904258
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  • Gibson, Leslie Irving, 1977, Lancashire Castles and Towers (Dalesman Books)
  • Smith, A.H., 1961, The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Part 3 Morley Wapentake (English Place-Name Society 32) p. 179
  • Farrer, Wm and Brownbill, J., 1911, VCH Lancashire Vol. 5 online transcription
  • Fishwick, Henry, 1889, History of the Parish of Rochdale p. 479-80 online copy
  • Harland, J. and Wilkinson, T.T., 1873, Lancashire Legends (Manchester: L.C. Gent) p. 5-7 (legend of Lady Sybil) online copy