Littlehoughton Hall Tower

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameLittlehoughton Hall Tower
Alternative NamesLittle Houghton; Little Haughton
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishLonghoughton

In the centre of the township of Little Houghton is situated Little Houghton Tower, for many centuries one of the residences of the Roddam family. The core of the house is a small mediaeval tower to which additions have been made at various times, but chiefly in the 17th century. The mediaeval portion of the building was partially demolished in 1818, but it seems that originally the tower was 25ft square with walls 5ft thick, a vaulted lower storey and a newel staircase in one of the corners. The original entrance to the tower appears to have been a square-headed doorway, now blocked, on the west side. Other entrances in the north, west and east were probably made in the 17th cent and their date may be approximated by an inscription 'ERM 1686' on a fireplace in a bedroom on the upper floor. A very large fireplace of the same date still remains in the room on the ground floor now used as a study.

The tower does not appear in any early lists of similar buildings, probably owing to its small size. A survey of 1734 refers to it as a 'strong tower of great antiquity' (Bateson 1895).

NU 23111647 - The remains of the mediaeval tower occupy the central part of the present Littlehoughton Hall with the old walling visible on the E & W sides. The only architectural feature remaining is a blocked square-headed doorway on the east side (not the west side as stated).

The wing to the N of the mediaeval portion has hood-moulded windows typical of the late 17th cent and is no doubt the portion built in 1686. The description of interior could not be checked due to the absence of the occupier. In good condition; the house is in use as a residence (F2 BHP 12-DEC-69).

A house of 1686, possibly incorporating the remains of a late medieval tower house. This older structure occupies the central section of the building, with the 17th century range to the north. The north west wing is early 19th century in date and the south block was probably added in 1818

The porch dates to the late 19th century. Documentary evidence suggests that a medieval tower on this site was demolished in 1818. The 16th century range may represent part of a wing added to this tower. Listed Grade II (Listed Building Report). (PastScape)

Littlehoughton Hall is a picturesque house with several phases of building history. The block fronting the road, of two storeys and four bays, may be dated by a scratched '1778' inscription on one of its south east quoins; it forms an L-plan with an older range running northwards from its west end. The first part of this range is of medieval or 16th century date and may be the tower mentioned in 18th and early 19th century sources. The second part (north wing) is of later 17th century date.

'TOWER': The earliest part of the building has walls of massive rubble, with roughly shaped quoins; in character this looks more like 16th century work than medieval. The only feature that can be ascribed to this phase is perhaps a blocked square headed doorway in the east wall. On the east there are no old features, but the contrast between the earlier and later masonry is quite striking; the ragged join suggests

that the older building was either ruined or partly demolished when the front block was built. The east wall of the front block appears to reuse a lot of older stone.

Internally, this part of the house is occupied by a dining room. In its north wall is a fireplace 3.2m wide, now blocked up, with a roll-moulded surround. On the west of the fireplace is a doorway, or passage, through the 1.75, thick wall, opening into the cross passage in the 17th century wing by a doorway with a chamfered arch of something between elliptical and segmental form. In the side wall of the passage alongside the stack is a straight joint, suggesting that the stack is an addition to an earlier wall; evidence for this is again seen at attic level in a contrast in masonry between the original wall and the better squared stone of the stack.

NORTH WING: The 17th century wing has a number of features of interest. It has a cross passage set against the north wall of the older building; at its east end this has a doorway (now converted to a window) with a moulded four-centred arch within a square frame; the doorway at the west end, similarly converted, is much smaller (1.6m high by 0.6m wide) and simpler, with a chamfered arch having a flat pointed head. The wing has several mullioned windows and a small oval window in a cable-moulded surround above the eastern cross passage door.

The north gable, above a later outshut, shows a blocked roll-moulded window to the first floor and a formerly mullioned window to the attic. Internally, there are remains of a large kitchen fireplace (the western jamb, with a projecting impost, of a large arch) and a fine fireplace in the first floor bedroom; this has a moulded surround with the lintel corbelled forward. On the lintel is the date 1686 and a panel in the form of an inverted heart containing the initials R over EM, for Edward and Mary Roddam; at the base of each jamb is a foliage-carved panel. The wing has a roof of principal rafter trusses with collars.

CONCLUSIONS: It is a little difficult to see the dining room fireplace, with the stack above, as inserted into the vaulted basement of a tower. In addition, the side walls of this section of the building, although substantial, are not 1.6m thick. Without the 1778 date on the quoin in the front block, one might assume that the block replaces the medieval tower and that the oldest surviving work represents an early post-medieval wing (possibly of strong house type) added to the tower; possibly the 1818 reference is in error and the demolition in fact took place 40 years earlier. Another less likely alternative might be that the demolished tower stood quite separately from the main house (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

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 ReferenceNU231164
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 120-1
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 75
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 28
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 336
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 227
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 132
  • Bateson, Edward (ed), 1895, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 2 p. 404-5 online copy


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 1 Alnwick District p. 35