Chipchase Castle

Has been described as a Certain Tower House

There are major building remains

NameChipchase Castle
Alternative NamesChollerton Castle; Chipchesse; Chipchace; Chypchase; Chipches; Gipsies; Chivy Chase
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishChollerton

Chipchase Tower is widely regarded as one of the best preserved towers in Northumberland. It survives in its early 14th-century state and, although partially restored, it represents an example of exceptional architectural and archaeological importance.

The monument includes an exceptionally well preserved tower house situated on a gently sloping area of ground on the left bank of the River North Tyne. It is adjacent to the manor house known as Chipchase Castle which was added to the tower in the early 17th century. The mid-fourteenth-century tower is rectangular in shape and rises three storeys above a vaulted basement, with a watch turret attached to each corner, and joined by a parapet walk. Externally, the tower measures 15.7m north-south by 10.4m east-west and is 15.5m high to the top of the turrets. An entrance lobby, housing a circular staircase giving access to the upper storeys and the parapet walk, is attached to its east side. The main entrance still retains the original wooden portcullis, operated from a small room on the first floor. The vaulted basement is strong, with walls 2.6m thick and no windows. Each subsequent floor consists of a single large room with a variety of small chambers leading off it into the thickness of the walls. The first floor room has small windows on the south and east sides and a small fireplace in the west wall, with the portcullis room at the south-eastern corner. The second floor room has larger windows in the south and east sides and a large fireplace in the west wall. Among the subsidiary chambers on this floor there is an L-shaped chapel situated on the east side. The third floor contains the largest and most lavish room: lit by four windows, it has a large fireplace in the west wall and several features of architectural note. Subsidiary rooms on this floor include a kitchen. The tower is a Grade I listed building, as is the attached later house

The early 17th-century manor house is attached to the tower on its east side and an early 19th-century range of buildings is attached to the north-eastern corner of the tower. Neither of these later additions is included in the scheduling. (Scheduling Report)

Country house. C14, 1621 and C18. Minor alterations C19. Work of 1621 for Cuthbert Heron. Also work by John Dodds and John Dobson for Reed family. Earlier work done for Herons and Allgoods. Random rubble, dressed stone and ashlar in different sections. Stone and Welsh slate roofs. Tower with later additions, now forming courtyard house.

Entrance front of 1621 E-shaped: 3 storeys, 7 bays. Doorway, in 3-storey centrepiece, has moulded jambs, imposts and round arch framed by carved panels and flanked by ½-fluted Ionic columns on bases with strapwork and emblems of Heron family. Frieze with blank arches, dentilled cornice and obelisks above columns with Heron coat of arms between. Canted mullioned-and-transomed bay windows above. Parapet with ornamental cresting and beasts with shields. 2-bay recessed sections have mid-C18 12-pane sashes in raised surrounds. Basement has 2-light mullioned windows. Projecting outer bays have 2-storey mullioned- and-transomed bow windows, shown with sashes in 1784. They have embattled parapets and beasts with shields. 12-pane sashes on 2nd floor. String course above each floor and embattled top parapet with round arches surmounted by beasts above outer bays and diagonally-set octagonal chimneys above each corner. Hipped roof.

Left return has mid-C14 tower on left. Dressed stone. 4 storeys with bartizans and machicolations on corbels. Given classical detail to unify facade in mid C18. 3 storeys, 9 bays, 2:5:2. Recessed 5-bay centre has steps up to Roman Doric doorcase. 12-pane sashes in moulded surrounds. String course above each floor. Embattled parapet.

Right return and rear of house mid C18 with older masonry behind. 2 storeys. 2 pedimented doorways and sashes with glazing bars. Rear of tower, has C14 blocked 2-light window with cusped ogee heads; also 2 corbelled garderobe chutes.

Early C19 single-storey service wing attached to north-west corner.

Interior of tower has vaulted basement, stone newel stair and original portcullis. Elsewhere several mid-C18 plaster ceilings, especially Music room which has Rococo detail. Elaborate Jacobean overmantel, also in Music room. Palladian doorcases with eared architraves and pulvinated friezes. (Listed Building Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

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 ReferenceNY882757
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Leach, P., 1976, 'Chipchase Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 133 p. 177, 179
  • Prevost, W.A.J., 1962, 'Sir John Clerk's trip from Drumcrief to Carlisle 1734, and his trip into England in 1741' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 62 p. 254 online copy
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  • Hodgson, J.C., 1916, 'List of Ruined Towers, Chapels, etc., in Northumberland; compiled about 1715 by John Warburton, Somerset Herald, aided by John Horsley' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser3) Vol. 13 p. 6-7 abridged transcription
  • Knowles, W.H., 1903, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser3) Vol. 1 p. 32-4 online copy
  • 1893, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 6 p. 64-5
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 18, 27, 410-16 online copy
  • Hall, 1873-6, Transactions of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland Vol. 5 p. 295-306

Guide Books

  • Percy Hedley, W., n.d. c.1970, An Account of Chipchase Castle

Primary Sources

  • Sir Robert Bowes, 1550, A Book of the State of the Frontiers and Marches betwixt England and Scotland taken from Brit. Mus. Cotton. MS. Titus, F.13, a copy of the original (see Bates, 51, n185). Printed in Hodgson, [pt.3, ii, 187, 226 >]
  • 1541, View of the Castles, Towers, Barmekyns and Fortresses of the Frontier of the East and Middle Marches Survey of the East and Middle Marches
  • 1415, Nomina Castrorum et Fortaliciorum infra Comitatum Northumbrie online transcription