Unthank Hall

Has been described as a Questionable Pele Tower, and also as a Questionable Bastle

There are no visible remains

NameUnthank Hall
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishPlenmeller with Whitfield

Country House. C16 origins, remodelled and extended 1815 and 1865 by Dobson, altered 1900 and reduced in size 1965. Squared stone with ashlar dressings; west wing rubble with dressings. Slate roofs. 1815 work in plain Classical style; 1860 extensions free neo-Tudor. Entrance front 2 storeys, 2:1:1:1:2 bays, irregular. Central projecting porch has part-glazed door under 5-pane overlight in segmental-pointed arch, slit window above; coped gable with moulded kneelers and finial. Above porch a slit window and eaves corbel table. Flanking gabled bays with 3-light windows under hoodmoulds. Far right, set-back, 2-bay 1815 section has plinth, 1st floor band and eaves cornice; 12-pane sashes in architraves,those on 1st floor smaller. Far left, set-back 2-bay section with varied fenestration including tall cross window to servants' stair; eaves corbel table. Stepped and corniced stacks to left end and to ridge. Return walls, that on left twin-gabled, of 1965 rock-faced masonry with re-set sash windows. Rear (garden) elevation in similar style has wide canted bay of 1815 with altered sash windows in architraves, the central now a door. Paired sash window to right and 1st floor cross windows of c,1900.

Interior. 1.2 metre thick wall between stair hall and drawing room is the south wall of the earlier house. Elaborate fittings and decoration mostly of c.1860. The mid-Victorian main stair, heavily Classical in style, was brought, along with other fittings (including the pediments above the dining-room windows), from Pallion (Sunderland) c.1900. Ornate plaster ceilings in dining room and stair hall, and frieze in sitting room.

Unthank was a seat of the Ridley family in the C16, and has been claimed by some as the birthplace of Bishop Ridley the martyr

(Listed Building Report)

The Hall, rebuilt in 1862, retains few traces of the ancient pele (Tomlinson 1902).

There are no apparent traces of a peel in or around the present building (F1 RWE 29-OCT-66).

Country house with 16th century origins, remodelled and extended in 1815 and 1865, further altered circa 1900 and reduced in size in 1965. The two storey house is stone-built, with slate roofs. Documentary evidence suggests that a pele tower once stood on this site. Listed Grade II. (Listed Building Report 1985)

This originated as a bastle, the evidence for which is a length of 4-foot thick walling (Dodds 1999).

Gatehouse Comments

The actual form of the C16 building is unclear. The Ridley family were clearly gentry status (the Unthank branch were usually churchmen) and one would expect their house to be a fairly substantial one and in this part of the country that form would likely be a unfortified hall with an attached chamber or solar tower (i.e a pele tower) and associated out buildings. However as the building was new in the C16 it probably taken the form of a superior bastle (c.f. Hepburn Bastle). It can not have been a pele-house type bastle.

- 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 ReferenceNY729630
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 399
  • Tomlinson, W.W., 1902, Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland (London) p. 165