Brockley Hall, Hesleyhurst

Has been described as a Possible Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameBrockley Hall, Hesleyhurst
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishHesleyhurst

The oldest existing house in Rothbury forest, is that incorporated in Brockley Hall farmhouse. The stone mantle once in the kitchen at Brockley Hall is now built in the gable of one of the farm-buildings. It is inscribed 'Thomas Wharton, 1666', who resided here during the 17th century (Dixon 1903).

Brockley Hall is of 16th/17th century design, with plain mullioned windows, and with a hood moulding over the front door. Above this door is a tablet with 'R. 1858', inscribed upon it. The farmer can offer no information about the house, and this date probably refers to a restoration, or rebuilding using the original materials. The walls are of an average thickness of 0.7m, and are constructed of rough-fashioned stone, with well-shaped quoins. The inscribed stone described by Dixon 1903, is in the south-west wall of a farm-building to the south-east of the farmhouse, facing the road (F1 ASP 18-JAN-1957).

Brockley Hall Farmhouse incorporates a bastle. The main block of the farmhouse, 10.5m by c.6.6m externally, represents the bastle. Its south wall appears to have been completely rebuilt in 1858 (datestone with initial R over the front door). The other walls are c.1m thick and built of large blocks, roughly shaped and roughly coursed; the fabric of the north elevation is partly obscured by heavy pointing.

The north elevation shows two small blocked rectangular loops at first floor level, with evidence of a slop stone, a large rectangular block above a smaller one cut to form a drain outlet, below and to the right of the eastern one. To the west of the western loop is a larger opening, with a narrow chamfer, which may be original. However, it seems too large for a bastle window and too small for an upper doorway

West of this are possible traces of a third loop; there is also a possible slit vent at basement level.

The external face of the east end of the bastle is now within a later farmbuilding and is partly concealed by plaster, but remains of a blocked square-headed doorway are visible at basement level, close to the south end of the wall.

The only old feature in the rebuilt front wall of the bastle is the doorway, which is a re-set piece of some architectural merit. It has a moulded surround and a flattened triangular arch within a stepped square frame; the lintel has a relief carving of a central shield with the initial M flanked by foliage trails and above it the date 1666 between the initials T(?) and W. There are quite elaborate carved stops at the foot of each jamb and a moulded hood with turned back ends and damaged fleur-de-lys terminals.

The bastle appears to have been extended to the west in the 18th century; this section has a small rear outshut, extended eastward in the mid 19th century. The rebuilt front wall of 1858 has mullioned windows in recessed and chamfered surrounds.

Built into the west gable end of the southern range of a group of 19th century farmbuildings, which enclose a yard south east of the farmhouse, is an impressive carved lintel of very similar form to that of the front door. Its size suggests that it comes from a fireplace and it bears a relief carved panel with THOMAS WARTON:1666. DISCUSSION: A bastle was recorded here in 1579 and may be the building which survives, although most Northumberland bastles are of c.1600 or a little later. The house would appear to have been remodelled in 1666 by Thomas Warton as a building of some architectural pretensions, although most of the evidence of his work would seem to have been swept away by the 1858 rebuilding. The first floor loops and evidence of the slopstone and drain are of interest (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

Farmhouse. Probably originally a bastle house. C16 (recorded in 1579); restored and refronted 1666 by Thomas Wharton. Restored again 1858.

Random rubble, especially large to rear. Ashlar dressings and Welsh slate roof. One room deep, three rooms long. Irregular openings. 2 storeys, 4 windows.

On ground floor 5 bays. Doorway in 4th bay has roll-moulded Tudor-arched surround with fine hollow-chamfered outer order which is stepped above the arch. Lintel, dated 1666 has central shield bearing an 'M' and surrounded by foliage; flanking letters T W for Thomas Wharton; hoodmould with scrolled stops. Above a square panel inscribed R . In the 2nd bay a C19 doorway 1858 with chamfered alternating-block surround. C19 2-light double-chamfered mullioned windows. Gabled roof with flat coping and tall corniced end and ridge stacks of 2 conjoined shafts.

Single-storey C19 addition on left has boarded and battened door and small 4-pane casment.

Interior: rear wall, right end wall and internal cross wall are c.40 inches thick. This represents the C16 house. Another wall c.40 inches thick continues left of this on ground floor and suggests a single-storey addition to the original house. Old oak beams. (Listed Building Report)

Brockley Hall NZ086987 is described as the remains of a bastle by Long, CH, 75. The authority cited (Dixon, UC, 473-4) will not bear this meaning. (King 1983)

Gatehouse Comments

By itself King is correct that Dixon's description is not that of a bastle, although in the context of the surrounding passages a fortified building is implied. However the later survey make it clear this was a bastle and his rejection is incorrect.

- 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 ReferenceNZ085987
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Photo by Az Mohammed All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photo by Az Mohammed All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photo by Az Mohammed All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photo by Az Mohammed All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photo by Az Mohammed All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photo by Az Mohammed All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 194
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 361 (reject)
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 83
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 75
  • Dixon, D.D., 1903, Upper Coquetdale Northumberland: Its History, Traditions, Folk-lore and Scenery (Newcastle-upon Tyne: Robert Redpath) p. 474 online copy


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 1 Alnwick District p. 32