Knarsdale Hall

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Questionable Pele Tower

There are no visible remains

NameKnarsdale Hall
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishKnaresdale with Kirkhaugh

Grade 2-star listed C17 Hall stands on the site of a tower used by the forester of Knarsdale Forest. The hall stands on a medieval site, a steep-sided mound which was probably fortified, a seat of the Pratt family who forfeited it to the Crown in the reign of Edward I. It later passed to the Swinburns. (Keys to the Past)

Manor House. C17 block, now partly farm building, extended to north by an addition with a contemporary outshut in later C17. Rubble with stone dressings; roof partly stone slate and partly C20 tile. 2 tall storeys 5 + 2 bays. Original block has inserted boarded door with alternating tooled and margined jambs in 2nd bay, and inserted pitching door over. Extension has renewed door in eared architrave at left of 1st bay. 2-light chamfered mullioned windows with moulded dripstones, ground floor window in 3rd bay having lost its mullion. Stone stacks on ridge and right gable. Right return has small blocked attic window in chamfered surround and, set back to right, the end of the outshut with C18 flat-faced 2-light mullioned window and later Cl9 sash above. Rear elevation; outshut I½ storeys; boarded door with alternating tooled and margined jambs, flat-faced 2-light mullioned window to right, 2-light chamfered mullioned window over. Wall of original block has 2-light chamfered mullioned window and small window with chamfered surround. Brick lean-to not of interest. Interior of house much altered. The hall stands on a medieval site, a steep-sided mound which was probably fortified, a seat of the Pratt family who forfeited it to the Crown in the reign of Edward I. It later passed to the Swinburns. (Listed Building Report)

17th C. Knarsdale Hall lay for a long time in a ruinous and neglected condition, but some years ago it was made habitable

Around it are signs of what some think was a moat, whilst others see the remains of ancient fish ponds (Tomlinson 1902).

No remains of a moat or fish-ponds are apparent (F1 ECW 15-NOV-66).

A strong tower was built at Knarsdale in the late 12th century, the present hall standing on its site (Dodds 1999). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Dodds suggestion that this was the site of a 'strong tower' in the C12 comes from an idea that such a thing was a perquisite for the home of the forester of Knarsdale Forest. The forest was part of the Tynedale Liberty held by the Scottish kings. There is no actual evidence for a tower here of any date and the evidence even for a moat is weak and contested. The suggestion a forester had to have a tower is quite unsupported although a number of foresters houses were moated or had defensible features; however others were not defensible. The house is situated on a ridge end and has steep slopes on two sides and steep sided stream on the third but is overlooked by higher land on the other side so hardly a defensive site. This was a gentry status site and, in this area, one might expect the house to have some military architectural features in the C14/C15 but, as stated, there is no actual evidence of any such.

- 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 ReferenceNY679546
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 384
  • Ryder, Peter, 1996, Bastle Houses in the Northern Pennines (Alston: The North Pennines Heritage Trust) p. 21, 22
  • Rowland, T.H., 1994, Waters of Tyne (Warkworth: Sandhill Press Ltd)
  • Hutchinson, Wm, 1776, A View of Northumberland (Newcastle) Vol. 1 p. 9 (mention) online transcription