North Fenwick Farmhouse, Matfen

Has been described as a Possible Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameNorth Fenwick Farmhouse, Matfen
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishMatfen

Bastlehouse, now farmhouse. Late C16 or early C17, altered mid C19. Random rubble with ashlar dressings. Welsh slate roof. Two and a half storeys. Two slightly irregular bays with central doorway. C20 door in chamfered surround. 2-light mullioned windows with chamfered surrounds and 8-pane sashes in each light. C19 gabled half-dormers. Small blocked windows between 1st floor windows. Gabled roof with ridged coping and kneelers. Corniced end stacks with 4 conjoined shafts.

Former byre attached on left is now archway through to rear. Within the archway a single-storey C18 brick addition to the house.

Interior: walls 45-50 inches thick. C19 staircase. (Listed Building Report)

The farmbuildings are of late 18th and 19th century dates, but the farmhouse is an older building and probably a bastle. The main block of the farmhouse measures c.13.1m by 7.3m externally, with walls c.0.92m thick, constructed of large roughly-squared blocks laid in quite regular courses. The building has clearly been heightened, in small stones, probably when remodelled in the 19th century. The only clearly original feature seems to be the south door, set a little west of centre. This now has a square head and a chamfered surround; the head has been altered (it would appear to have been a shallow arch of some type, later cut square) and some of the upper jamb stones could be insertions, but the massive blocks of the lower jambs are clearly coursed in with the adjacent walling. Above the doorway is a blocked openings at first floor level. Its proportions seem those of a doorway rather than a window, but its lack of dressings and the level at which it is set, would appear to argue for it being an insertion.

The present fenestration of the south wall (two mullioned windows to both ground and first floors and attic windows set in gabled half-dormers) all seems to date from a 19th century remodelling in 'Estate Tudor' style

There are traces of a possible original window, small and square and without cut dressings, to the west of the western first floor window. There are rather more definite indications of a slit vent at ground floor level in the centre of the east end. In the west end, within the attached farmbuilding range, but above the roof of a single storey extension to the house, a blocked opening is visible near the south end of the wall; it is not clear whether this is a window or a doorway. On the north, the block has a central gabled stair wing, flanked by a pair of outshuts - the western extending beyond the main block to overlap the adjacent farmbuilding. In the north end of the wing is a doorway now converted into a window and a small chamfered window that could either be of late 17th/early 18th century date, or a Victorian piece. The eastern outshut is apparently the earlier of the two; its roughly-shaped quoins look of early 18th century character, as opposed to the square-cut quoins of 19th century type on the western. Upper floors have been added to both outshuts in recent years.

The interior of the house was not examined in detail. It does not appear to have any exposed pre-19th century features. There is said to be a chimney stack 2.4m deep built against the east end. This is clearly a 17th century building. What is less easy to determine is whether it is a bastle proper, dating from the first decades of the century, or a strongly-built conventional house of perhaps 50 years later. The character of the walling is broadly similar to that of the bastle at West Fenwick (NZ 07 SE 29) although the walls are a little thinner. The apparent slit vent in the east end and the thickness of the adjacent stack (which is presumably a result of it being built within an earlier basement) would argue for a bastle origin. The gabled rear wing would then be seen as an addition made later in the 17th century, when the bastle was remodelled as a conventional ground floor house. An eastern outshut was added in the late 18th century and a western in the late 18th or early 19th century. The house was remodelled in the mid 19th century and the two outshuts heightened about 20 years ago (Ryder 1994-5).

North Fenwick Farmhouse is recorded in a historic buildings survey of West Fenwick Farm by Alan Williams Archaeology during February 2013 as a bastle house of early 17th century, and considerably altered through the 18th and 19th century date (Williams 2013). (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
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNZ054728
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  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)


  • Williams, A., 2013, West Fenwick Farm, Fenwick, Northumberland: historic building survey. Unpublished Alan Williams Archaeology report p. 16
  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 3 Castle Morpeth District p. 35