Netherwitton Hall

Has been described as a Possible Tower House

There are uncertain remains

NameNetherwitton Hall
Alternative Namescastle of Witton; Turris de Witton juxta aquam; Nether Wootton; Netherwitten
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishNetherwitton

Tower at Netherwitton; remains incorporated in later mansion (Hadcock 1939).

Netherwitton, the seat of John Thornton Esq, a neat, regular freestone building in the figure of a long square, 14 yards long, seven windows in front, flat roof, with banisters, covered with lead, erected 1698. On the north east side are some remains of an ancient tower formerly the mansion house (Hodgson 1916).

Listed in the 1415 Survey as 'Turris de Whitton iuxta aquam'. Not mentioned in the 1541 Survey pp29-49. (Bates 1891).

The castle of Witton was built by Roger de Thornton the First. Some additions or repairs were probably done to it in 1483 as there is a tablet, with a weather moulding around it, above the north door of the present house, bearing the arms of Thornton. It is said to have stood just to the south of the gardens, where some trees grow.

The present house was visited by Oliver Cromwell in the summer of 1651, and tradition has made it the hiding place of Lord Lovat after his flight from Culloden. It is built of white freestone, now weathered and grey and is of three stories (Hodgson 1827).

Roger Thornton purchased the manor of Witton in 1405, and built for himself a castle, which is stated to have stood on the site of the present gardens. The estate remained in his family until 1747, when it came to the Trevelyans (Tomlinson 1902).

It is thought there are some remains of Roger Thornton's castle of Witton incorporated in the present hall (PSANuT 1893-4).

'Netherwitton Hall is much more likely to be of 1651 than 1698. On the north side are the remains of the old tower, and the chapel, which has not been used as such since the 1700s. There is a Priest's hiding place at the Hall too. The north-east wing was built this century' (F1 ASP 14-JAN-1957).

Netherwitton Hall is a large rectangular building situated amid ornamental grounds and facing south. The facade is of a formal, balanced design of the 17th century

Adjoining the north-east corner is a modern wing built in the same style. On the north side are two wings. Part of the easternmost wing comprises the stair turret of the old tower. There are three blocked two-light mullioned windows, one at each floor, above the north entrance, which has a flat pointed arch. Over the doorway, is a moulded stone with the inscription 'ANNO REGIS EDWARD I QUINTI' (1483). Built against the turret on the east side is a narrow block of equal proportions, but of later date. Contemporary with it is the westernmost wing. There are no architectural features whereby these later structures can be dated. The little building adjoining the westernmost wing, and once the chapel, is probably contemporary with the wing. The Hall stands upon level ground overlooking the valley of the Font to the west and south. The ground rises gently to the north. The tenant, Mrs Steel, can offer no further information (F2 ASP 14-JAN-1957).

Netherwitton Hall, Grade I. Country house, 1685 probably by Robert Trollop for Sir Nicholas Thornton. Incorporates 16th century or earlier fabric to the rear. Interior: the entrance hall has a late 16th or early 17th century fireplace, possibly re-set, and 18th century panelling. Other 17th century features internally include panelling, the main stair and stone winder stair in eastern turret (Listed Building Report).

Witton Castle or Tower. Netherwitton Tower, mentioned in 1415. Incorporated into mansion house of c.1700-10. Remains at rear of house. (The two towers seem to be the same site) (Long 1967).

The main part of the present house is a rectangular three-storeyed block with a seven-bay front. However, the back of the house looks as if it may be of earlier date. It has a stair turret with blocked mullioned windows and a doorway at its base with flattened triangular head within a square frame. Built into the wall above is the inscribed stone mentioned by F2 ASP 14-JAN-1957, or a copy or recutting of it. A broader and lower stair projection to the west has more regularly-cut quoins and looks a later addition. Internally, the narrower stair projection or turret has a stone winder stair and the broader one an open-well stair that appears contemporary with the Trollope work. On the south side of the entrance hall is a large fireplace with a flattened triangular arch within a square frame and a hollow-chamfered moulding. There is some evidence to suggest that Trollope may have simply remodelled an older house. If one accepts the eastern stair turret and stone winder stair as part of this, then the main block and turret are reminiscent in their overall form of strong houses such as the nearby Stanton Old Hall. The fireplace in the entrance hall looks more like work of c.1600 than c.1685, but may be a re-set piece. The masonry of the rear elevation - roughly squared and coursed stone - does not look particularly 'early'. The question must remain open as to the date and overall form of the pre-1685 house. It may have been a defensible strong house of the 16th or early 17th century or, alternatively, simply a mid-17th century house that retained some echoes of earlier traditions (Ryder 1994-5).

Gatehouse Comments

Called a turris in the 1415 list. However in other sources it is called a castle suggesting a somewhat large tower or a more generally defended set of buildings. However the form of the building is not known and it is likely the building had several episode of building and enlargement before the current late C17 building. The status of the family has risen during the period so the currently large hall represents the house of a much more wealthy family than that of 1415 and the building may also have changed. Does the inscribed stone dated 1483 represent a period of significant rebuilding?

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceNZ102904
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Calculate Print


  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 247-9
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 82
  • Jackson, M.J.,1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle) p. 134-5
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 70
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 338
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 245-6
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 137,174-175
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Tomlinson, W.W. 1902, Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland (Newcastle) p. 274
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 16, 44 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)
  • Hodgson, J., 1827, History of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Part 2 Vol. 1 p. 316-26 online copy


  • Hadcock, R.N., 1939, 'A map of mediaeval Northumberland and Durham' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 16 p. 148-218 esp 169
  • Hodgson, J.C., 1916, 'List of Ruined Towers, Chapels, etc., in Northumberland; compiled about 1715 by John Warburton, Somerset Herald, aided by John Horsley' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser3) Vol. 13 p. 8 abridged transcription
  • 1893-4, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 6 p. 210
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 16, 44 online copy

Primary Sources


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 3 Castle Morpeth District p. 38-9