Bowness on Solway

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are no visible remains

NameBowness on Solway
Alternative NamesBolness; Bolnes; Bulnesse; Bownes; Old Rectory
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishBowness

Bowness Tower is listed by Curwen as a 14th century Peel Tower, first mentioned in 1539, and stated to have belonged to the parsonage in 1580.

Graham presumes that this was the building which stood near the gate to the present rectory, and whose foundations were so solid that gunpowder had to be used to demolish them in 1860. (PastScape)

The rector of Bowness on Solway dwelt in a fortalice close to the churchyard wall, the vestiges of which were only recently demolished.

In 1464 William Raa, registrar of the diocese of Carlisle, made this entry in the bishop's accounts of that year: ' De fine rectoris de Bowness pro una litera questandi pro reparacione unius domus defensionis ibidem non respondet hie quia conceditur per dominum gratis' (Diocesan MS.). Leland says that 'Bolnes ys at the Poynt or Playne of the Ryver of Edon wher ys a lytle poore Steple as a Fortelet for a brunt, and yt ys on hyther syde of the Ryver of Edon, abowt a viii. myles from Cair Luel'. In a survey of Border fortresses made by Christopher Dacre in 1580, the condition of 'Bownes Towre' is thus described: 'This house or towre doth belonge to ye parsonage theire, standing about 4 miles west and by north from ye said house of Drumburghe adioyning to the sea criek wch devideth ye English and Scotesche borders and the furthest parte towardes ye west, yt ye Scotts may enter otherwise then by botinge, and about a mile and a half over the same criek to Scotland at a full sea, a place of small receipt and yet very necessairy for defence of ye parte of the Border, partly decayed, the charges of wch reparacon with a plattforme for ordinance wch were necessarie to be made upon ye same towre is esteamed to £40 and without the platforme to £10 ' (S. P. Dom. Eliz. Add. xxvii. 44 (3)). A wall of this tower was standing close to the rectory in 1856. (VCH)

Gatehouse Comments

A 'watch tower' (a vaulted chamber block) attached to a hall. Although a rectory should be considered a gentry status building.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY224625
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 60 (plan)
  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 96 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 92
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 255
  • Wilson, J. (ed), 1905, VCH Cumberland Vol. 2 p. 257 online copy


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 93
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 50 online copy


  • < >Perriam, D.R., 1988, 'Bowness Rectory tower (documents relating to ?late 14th/early 15th century bastle)' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 88 p. 193-200 (plan) < > online copy
  • Wilson, J., 1923, 'The Passage of the Border by Aeneas Sylvius in the winter of 1435-6' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 23 p. 25 online copy
  • Graham, T.H.B., 1911, 'Extinct Cumberland Castles (Part III)' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 11 p. 240-1 online copy
  • Ellis, H., 1829, 'Copy of a manuscript tract addressed to Lord Burghley, illustrative of the Border topography of Scotland, AD 1590, with a platt or map of the Borders taken in the same year' Archaeologia Vol. 22 p. 161-71 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Green, M.A.E. (ed), 1872, Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Elizabeth, Addenda 1580-1625 (HMSO) p. 17-18 no. 44 online copy
  • 1590, A Platt of the opposete Borders of Scotland to ye west marches of England (The Aglionby Platt) British Library online Gallery and [Old Cumbria Gazetteer >] (see also [Gatehouse Essay 'The Aglionby Platt' >]) (see also [Gatehouse Essay 'The Aglionby Platt' >])