Brackenhill Tower

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are major building remains

NameBrackenhill Tower
Alternative NamesBraconhill
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishArthuret

Brackenhill Tower is a fortified Border tower house, its importance stemming from the fact that it is a unique example of a Scottish-style tower sitting on English soil. It was built in 1584, for the Graham family, replacing an earlier tower which may have dated to C13 or earlier. Constructed from large blocks of red sandstone rubble, the external elevations are virtually unaltered from its original state. The walls are five ft thick and rise to forty ft in height and there is a double gabled slated roof which is surrounded by a corbelled and battlemented parapet. In 1717, the fifth Richard Graham constructed a brick cottage to the south east of the tower. These are the earliest signs of the site being consolidated. There is no evidence of the sort of alterations which would have been expected such as the enlargement of windows, when what was essentially a medieval tower continued in use as a Georgian house. One alteration was the insertion of the present west doorway of the basement and possibly the superstructure of the tower at attic level as the two end chimneys look to be of this date. It remains uncertain whether the roof trusses are contemporary with the stacks or were later alterations in 1860. Towards the end of C18 the property was sold to the Stephenson family, (the family name later changed to Standish), who built a new dining room and kitchen. In 1860 the tower and the cottage seem to have adjoined corner-to-corner, with a physical internal link, and a porch was added at the front of the original tower. It appears that the tower and cottage were linked together to form a hunting lodge. The ground of Brackenhill contains a planned hunting landscape which was commissioned by the Standish family specifically for recreational hunting. By the end of World War II the Carlyle family were the tenants and in 1946, when the Standish Estate was put up for sale, the Carlyle's acquired the Brackenhill Estate. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Appears to be added to the Aligonby Platt of 1590 in Lord Burleigh's very poor handwriting. Perriam and Robinson transcribed this as 'waikelli' and misattributed the site.

- 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
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY445694
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Barlow All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 227 (plan)
  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 21
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 35-6
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 82
  • Hugill, Robert, 1977, Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 42-3
  • Brunskill, R.W., 1971, Illustrated Handbook of Vernacular Architecture p. 29
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1967, Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (Harmondsworth) p. 74
  • Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles (1970 Reprint by Frank Graham) p. 51
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 352-3


  • 2007-8, Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 21 p. 123 (news report)
  • Anon, 2005, 'A Turbulent History: Brackenhill Tower near Longtown, Cumbria NY445695' Castle Studies Group Newsletter Vol. 7 p. 2
  • 1930, 'Addenda Antiquaria' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 30 p. 225-6 (pedigree of Grahams of Brackenhill) online copy
  • Graham, T.H.B., 1914, 'The Debatable Land Part II' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 14 facing p. 148 online copy [online copy of 1607 platt >] [online copy of 1552 map >]
  • Martindale, 1908, 'Proceedings' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 8 p. 375-6 online copy

Primary Sources

  • 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' >])
  • Blaeu, J., 1654, 'Cumbria vulgo Cumberland' in Theatrum Orbis Terrerum, sive Atlas Novus, Vol.5; Scotice et Hibernia (Amsterdam) Map online copy (Original mapping by Timothy Pont in c. 1607)


  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 26 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 35 online copy
  • Kirsty Wark (Presenter), 1995, One Foot in the Past (BBC TV Programme) YouTube video