West Bitchfield Tower, Belsay

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are major building remains

NameWest Bitchfield Tower, Belsay
Alternative NamesWest Beechfield
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishBelsay

House. C14 tower with additions of C16 and C17. Extensively restored and east wing added 1935 by Caroë and Lord Gort. Dressed stone and ashlar with Welsh slate roof.

3-storey tower to left with 2-storey, 6-bay house attached to right and C20 wing on extreme right.

Tower: partly ruinous in 1930's. South side has C17 doorway with moulded surround; on south-east corner at 2nd floor level the start of a rounded corbel for a corner turret (cf. Belsay Castle). On west side several slit windows and one C16 window with moulded surround; other windows are 2- and 3-light mullioned windows of 1935.

Attached hall and former kitchen wing, refaced in late C17, has steps up to central 2-leaf, 6-panel door in surround with bolection moulding, pulvinated oak-leaf frieze and scrolled pediment. Mullioned-and-transomed cross windows, with roll-moulded sills and cornices on ground floor. The crosses are renewed. Sundial of 1711 above door, brought from Belsay in C20. Moulded cornice, and panelled parapet added 1935. Gabled roof with external stacks.

C20 wing recessed to right in similar style.

Rear facade is irregular. It has tower to right with one cruciform slit window. Left of the tower is the hall with enormous external chimney stack. Left of this a projecting 3-storey C16 staircase wing which has, on ground floor two 2-light windows with segmental heads to lights; scattered fenestration with 2- and 3-light mullioned windows above. Left of this the former kitchen, now the dining room, with another enormous external chimney now covered on ground floor by 1935 entrance, with doorway in C17 style. 1935 wing to left.

Interior: Tower has vaulted ground floor and stair in thickness of wall; C14 door with pointed arch and continuous chamfered surround (cf. Belsay) between tower and hall

1st floor ceiling with broach-stopped beams brought from elsewhere; on 1st and 2nd floors two C17 fireplaces with moulded surrounds.

Drawing room (former hall) has large fireplace with bolection-moulded surround, and Palladian doorcase with pulvinated frieze.

Late C17 staircase with dumb-bell balusters.

Dining room has large fireplace with segmental head and a doorway with Tudor- arched lintel inscribed RF 1622 IF for Fenwick. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

One of the larger solar towers but was attached to a hall. The Middletons were a major family of Northumberland, holding Belsay Castle, but were technically gentry not barons.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceNZ090770
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  • Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1926, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 12 p. 341-2


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  • Hodgson, J.C., 1921, 'The manor and tower of Bitchfield' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser3) Vol. 18 p. 101-16