Callaly Castle

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameCallaly Castle
Alternative NamesCallaley; Callalye
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishCallaly

Callaly Castle is a country house which incorporates building work of many dates. The earliest part of the castle is a medieval tower house, probably with 14th century origins and likely to be that which is referred to in a survey of 1541. Yet, in 1582 Callaly was described as a manor house which suggests there may have been a more extensive building than just a tower. The medieval fabric was added to in the following centuries, but the first major additions were made in 1676 by Trollope. In 1707 further alterations were made which more or less concealed all the medieval and Jacobean features. The 18th century seems to have been a period of great activity at the castle with many episodes of building and alteration and the house and park have been described as fully developed English Renaissance work. In the 19th century the house was altered yet again and, most recently, in 1987, was sub-divided into a series of smaller dwellings. Inside the house are features of all periods. (Keys to the Past)

Country house. C14 and later, in particular additions of 1676 by Robert Trollope, various C15 dates and 1890 by Mr Stephenson of Berwick. For the Clavering and, after 1877, the Browne family.

Dressed stone and ashlar. Welsh slate roofs.

A very large house, irregular in plan, probably originally of hall and cross wing plan and now classical in character.

South front: 3 storeys 2:5:1 bays. 5-bay centre with projecting wings. Centre, probably an older hall range, remodelled by Trollope 1676, central doorway with Corinthian columns, multi-moulded surround and Tudor-arched lintel inscribed RMC for Ralph and Mary Clavering. Large, well-carved coat of arms of Ralph Clavering above, with inscription in frame of strapwork. Dated sundial in ornamental frame above that. Flanking windows set very close to door. Windows have multi-moulded surrounds, pulvinated oak-leaf friezes and open pediments framing trophies, dolphins etc

Top cornice and parapet, added 1749, has cut off the 2nd floor pediments. 12-pane sashes with thick glazing bars.

Projecting wing to left was a pele tower; walls 7ft thick refaced 1749 in ashlar with sash windows in architraves. West wall rebuilt c1840. Dated sundial in parapet.

Projecting wing to right is dated 1707 and has windows in architraves with finely detailed wedge lintels. Clavering coat of arms in parapet. However this wing seems older, walls 4ft thick and old masonry in east wall (cf morning room interior)

East front: In 2 sections. 3-storey, 6-bay section to left has slightly projecting ashlar centre of 1750 with Venetian doorway and 2 Venetian windows above. Older masonry to left of door and 12-pane sash windows, largely with thick glazing bars in flat raised surrounds. Right of this the ballroom and museum wing, large additions of 1890 - an exact copy of the detail of the Trollope building.

West or Central front: has the former tower projecting to right, a projecting wing of 1836, heightened and altered 1893, on left and a 4-bay centre. Doorway, squeezed into corner on right, dated 1727 in Gibbs surround, the keystone, carved with Clavering arms and an angel, surmounted by decorative finial. Slightly later Venetian window over with thick glazing bars. Ground and first floor windows are replacements of 1836 in raised surrounds. 2nd floor has original narrower windows in moulded surrounds, the centre one carved with foliage. North wall of wing to right, ie rear of tower and Trollope wing, has blocked early C18 2-storey, 3-bay loggia with round arches of Vanbrughian character.

Irregular hipped and gabled roofs with many corniced stacks. interior: The Drawing room is the principal room, elaborately redecorated by Italian Sdiccatori in the Roccoce style in 1757. James Paine may have been the designer. The room is 2- storeys high with coved ceiling. It has balconies at each end supported by marble Tuscan columns and with balustrades in 'Chinese Chippendale' style with Gothick centre panels.

Other rooms: Staircase of c1720-30 with turned balusters and square knobs, lit by Venetian window with Corinthian detail.

Smoking room: redecorated c1840 in French style with marble fireplace and niches. Clavering crest in ceiling.

Front hall has screen of two fluted columns with elliptical arches.

Pavilion: Late Victorian with cast iron balconies and 4-storey cast-iron spiral stair.

Morning room: 2 pieces of Elizabethan panelling found behind early C18 panelling in 1934 are now preserved in the pavilion.

The late C19 north wing is not of the same special quality as the rest of the building. (Listed Building Report)

Callaly Castle, 17th century to early 19th century, incorporating a Medieval tower in the SW corner (Dodds 1935).

Callaly Castle as described. Apart from the pele-tower, forming the W wing, no other part shows evidence of fortification. The house reflects outstanding internal and external architecture of several periods, and although still privately owned, is open to the public from Whitsun until September.

The remains of the pele-tower comprise the N, E & S walls, circa 7 ft thick, but no original detail is visible as both internal and external wallings have been altered and refaced (F4 JRL 05-NOV-76).

The pele tower was built shortly before 1415 as the main residence of the Clavering family. Sir John Clavering commissioned Robert Trollope to build a great hall adjoining the tower in 1619. In 1749 the West wall of the tower was replaced, a new wall being built within it, which explains its asymmetrical appearance (Dodds 1999; King 1983). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

The Claverings were knightly status. A large chamber block but seemingly always attached to a hall block so a pele tower in the sense used in Gatehouse.

- 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 ReferenceNU052098
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Calculate Print


  • Geldard, Ed, 2009, Northumberland Strongholds (London: Frances Lincoln) p. 60
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 155-7
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 31
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 200 (slight)
  • Jackson, M.J.,1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle) p. 38, 137
  • Pevsner, N., 1992 (revised by Grundy, John et al), Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 207-210
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 34
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 329
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 200
  • Graham, F., 1977, Old Halls, Houses and Inns of Northumberland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 56-60
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 89-92
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 77-8
  • Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles (1970 Reprint by Frank Graham) p. 55-7
  • Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1935, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 14 p. 529-32
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 371 online copy
  • Dixon, D.D., 1895, Whittingham Vale (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 133
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 42 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)
  • Hutchinson, Wm, 1776, A View of Northumberland (Newcastle) Vol. 1 p. 230-31 online transcription


  • Hussey, 1959, Country Life Vol. 125 p. 304-7, 358-61
  • Hadcock, R.N., 1939, 'A map of mediaeval Northumberland and Durham' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 16 p. 148-218 esp 188
  • 1891-2, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 5 p. 91-6
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 42 online copy
  • 1889, The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend p. 295-6 online copy
  • Hardy, J., 1890-91, 'Report of Meetings for 1890' History of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club p. 43- online copy

Guide Books

  • Browne, Major A.S.C., 1985, Callaly Castle, Garden and Grounds

Primary Sources


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 1 Alnwick District p. 7-9