Morpeth Bridge Street

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Town House, and also as a Certain Pele Tower

There are uncertain remains

NameMorpeth Bridge Street
Alternative NamesDacres Tower; Old Gaol
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishMorpeth

Towers. – A turriolum is mentioned in a deed printed under 1310, No. 2; and a turellus in 1343: and in the Plan in 1603 a considerable tower is drawn on the south side of Bridge-street, on the site of the late gaol. (Hodgson 1832)

A tower (HER 11542 - sic appears to be incorrect) is shown on the 1604 map between Bridge Street and the Wansbeck. At a later date, a gaol (which came to be known as the old gaol) was located on this site, but it is not clear whether the tower was destroyed or incorporated into the structure. In 1702-3, the county surveyor reported that the old gaol at Morpeth could be purchased, enlarged and repaired for less than it would cost to build a new one at Alnwick. The building work was completed in 1704. The site of the gaol and associated buildings extended from the frontage in Bridge Street to the Wansbeck. The building was converted to domestic use in the early 19th century (Hodgson 1832a, 72-3). Part of the masonry of this gaol is probably incorporated in Nos. 26 and 28 Bridge Street (HER 11142). (Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey)

Tower in Records or Lists before 1550.

On the plan of Morpeth made in 1603, a tower is drawn upon the site of the late gaol, concerning which the following note is appended:- The County Gaol at Morpeth was originally the property of the Earl of Carlisle...' The site extended from its front in Bridge St to Wansbeck it is now a private dwelling house, the gaol (first mentioned in 1701) being moved in 1828 (Hadcock 1939).

NZ 19948591. A building, representing a tower, is shown on map at this position, which agrees with description of site of tower in Hodgson. William Haywarde must have made two maps of Morpeth, one in 1603 and another in 1604 (Dodds 1939).

No trace of this tower remains, the site being occupied by modern shops and dwelling houses (F1 EG 10-MAR-1954).

Site noted within a desk-based assessment of the area

The remains are not thought accurately located from previous sources, and the site occupied (Scott 2006). (Northumberland HER)

one of the Dacres found it necessary to build a fortified tower in Bridge Street (NZ199859) for the protection of the townspeople. The tower in Bridge Street oulived its original purpose and was converted in 1704 into a goal. Dacre's tower has been modified out of recognition but its bones are still in situ, now housing the Department of Social Security, which somehow seems appropriate. (Dodds 1999)

Gatehouse Comments

King lists a 'Vanished small tower mentioned 1310 and 1343'. It is unclear to Gatehouse where Dodds gets the evidence this tower was built by the Dacres. It was called a turriolum in the undated early C14 deed and a turrelli in in 1343. These diminutive terms suggest a small tower (but possible small in comparison to the Dacre Castle) but this may best be considered as a reasonable well sized and fortified town house probably owned by a merchant (a Robert son of Peter is named in the early C14 deed and Thomas Smith (Faber) is the owner in 1343 - he appears to have the money to have been buying quite a lot of land in Morpeth at that time). The remains that survive and probably mainly those of the early C18 prison rather than the C14 tower. (cf. Hutton Hall, Penrith.)

- 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 ReferenceNZ199859
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 215
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 351
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 243
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 136
  • Hodgson, J., 1832, History of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Part 2 Vol. 2 p. 422-3, 436-7, 455, 487, 490 online copy
  • Hodgson, J., 1832, A History of Morpeth (London) p. 72-3


  • Dodds, M.H. 1939, 'Map of Morpeth' Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser4) Vol. 8 p. 153-60
  • Hadcock, R.N., 1939, 'A map of mediaeval Northumberland and Durham' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 16 p. 148-218


  • Northumberland County Council, 2009, 'Morpeth' Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey doi:10.5284/1000177 [download copy >]
  • Scott, J., 2006, Southern Trunk Main. Warkworth to North Gosforth. Archaeological and Cultural Heritage Assessment. Unpublished report by Tyne and Wear Museums, number 621 (48: site number 79)