Gresgarth Hall

Has been described as a Possible Pele Tower

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameGresgarth Hall
Alternative NamesGreagarth; Grassyard
Historic CountryLancashire
Modern AuthorityLancashire
1974 AuthorityLancashire
Civil ParishCaton With Littledale

House, assumed to be built for Thomas Edmondson in 1802, but stylistically possibly a little later, with some medieval remains. Sandstone rubble with slate roof. Main facade is a balanced composition with one bay on each side of a 3-storey porch and a one-bay wing projecting at the left. These have embattled parapets except for the bay to the left of the porch, which is gabled, and string courses. The windows have hoods, outer casement mouldings, inner hollow chamfers, and 2 cinquefoiled lights separated by a mullion, containing sashed windows with glazing bars. The porch has a corner turret and a wide moulded outer doorway with Tudor-arched head. To the right of the facade is a projecting gabled wing of chapel-like appearance. It has angle buttresses and a single tall window of 3 cusped lights and outer casement moulding under a Tudor-arched head. The left-hand return wall of the house (at the north-east) contains a doorway, possibly C16th, with hollow chamfer and pointed head. Adjoining the front wall at the left-hand side of the facade is a short wall containing a moulded door surround with Tudor-arched head and a re-set datestone inscribed: 'CG 1650'. The wall terminates with a buttress, where it abuts a garden wall not included in the item. The garden facade, facing south-west, is of 5 bays, the 2 right-hand bays forming a gabled projection with angle buttresses. The window openings rise through 2 storeys, with casement mouldings, Tudor-arched heads, and hoods. Within these openings are moulded timber window frames with 2 cusped lights on each floor, and glazing bars. Between the 2 storeys is a band of tracery decoration. The 3rd bay has a ground-floor door with tracery decoration and Tudor-arched head. The rear, south-east, facade has a plain central block with a ground-floor bow window, thought to be the remains of an 18th century house which was re-modelled: this could be the house of 1802. Interior

The ground-floor ceiling of part of the north-east wing is formed by a wide plastered stone barrel vault, now partly cut through by a passageway. This is probably the remains of a medieval defensive building. The rear wall contained until recently a 2-light hollow-chamfered mullioned window of late C16th type, now re-set in a rear wing. The vaulted wing contains a moulded shouldered fireplace of early C18th type, re-set from another building. The rear room of the central block, with a bow window, contains a plaster cornice of early C19th type. The open-string stair has square newels, a ramped handrail, and cast iron tracery infill. The south-west wing contains 2 ground-floor marble fireplaces, the rear one in a Gothic style. (Listed Building Report)

The Gresgarth tower may have been begun in 1330 following Curwens arrival. John Curwen would have felt particularly vulnerable in view of the families participation in the Scottish wars. He would also have been familiar with the architecture of the tower house whose evolution began in the border region with the troubles of the early fourteenth century ...

The oldest surviving portions of Gresgarth Hall consist of a two storey building, 48' long and 27', wide, with a tunnel vault on the ground floor. This building is embedded in later additions but the end walls can be recognised externally by their massive, rougher masonry. It is not to be confused with the Gothick Revival tower visible from the road. The side walls which carry the vault are 4' thick and the end walls 3'6". The central portion of the vault has been removed, probably when Gresgarth was remodeled early in the nineteenth century and various doorways and windows have been inserted on the ground floor in later, more secure, times. Such tunnel vaulted ground floors were usually lit only by narrow slits in the end walls and one of these survives at A where it now illuminates the larder. The southwest wall has been removed at first floor level but the north east wall and parts of the adjacent end walls survive up to the height of the eaves at about 22'. The southern quoins are exposed externally at E where they form a vertical joint to the height of 14' . The quoins consist of large roughly trimmed blocks of quartzite and slabs of red-brown finely bedded sandstone up to 2' 6" long. The foundation course of the south east wall consist of massive irregular earth-fast boulders up to 3' long.

During repairs in 1980 four treads of a stone stair descending and turning to the right were discovered at first floor level in the southern corner. These may have been the original and at one time the only access to the ground floor. If the spiral had continued downwards the stairs would have emerged through the vault rather inconveniently several feet above the ground but traces of a wall passage suggest that the stairs continued down the line of the wall for some distance before turning again to enter at ground level. The treads exposed were roughly trimmed and did not overlap at the centre of the spiral as in a spiral staircase. (Potts 1984)

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 ReferenceSD532633
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  • Gibson, Leslie Irving, 1977, Lancashire Castles and Towers (Dalesman Books)
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1969, Buildings of England: Lancashire, The rural north (Harmondsworth) p. 92
  • Farrer, William and Brownbill, J. (eds), 1914, VCH Lancashire Vol. 8 p. 81 online transcription


  • Potts, W.T.W., 1984, 'The Origin of Gresgarth Estate and the Date of Gresgarth Hall' Contrebis Vol. 11 p. 26-31 online copy