Whittingham Tower

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameWhittingham Tower
Alternative NamesWhyttyngane; Wittynggam; Whittingame; Wytingam
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishWhittingham

Towerhouse, which became ruinous and was converted into almshouses. Late C13 or early C14,, remodelled 1845 by Countess Ravensworth; cottage C18 or early C19.

Squared medieval masonry below, apparently of 2 periods with more massive earlier work in the lower courses and possibly C16 masonry above. Ashlar in C19 sections.

On south, west and north sides medieval masonry reaches to 2nd floor sill level, on east side to 1st floor window only.

3 storeys. Square.

Ground floor doorway on south side has medieval jambs and C17 round-headed top with continuous chamfer.

On east side, 4 steps with iron railings up to Tudor-headed door of 1845 with inscription over. By the munificense of Piety of LADY RAVENSWORTH This ancient Tower which was formerly Used by the village as a place of refuge In time of rapine and insecurity Was repaired and otherwise embellished For the use and benefit of the deserving Poor. AD 1845

Windows, all of 1845, are 1- and 2-light diamond-paned casements in chamfered surrounds. '

C19 battlemented parapet, projecting on close-set rounded corbels. Higher turret in north-east corner.

Interior has walls 8% ft, thick. Tunnel-vaulted ground floor.

Attached, altered cottage with stone-slate roof on west side. Birthplace, in 1745, of Henry Ogle, inventor of the threshing machine. (Listed Building Report)

It is doubtful whether any part of the existing tower was standing in 1317, when the "pila" of Whittingham was held by Robert Purvays

More probably the present building is that referred to in a list of 1460 (Hodgson 1820) (some authorities give this date as 1415) as belonging to William Heron, but was uninhabited, while in 1541 it belonged to Robert Collingwood and was in good repair (Hodgson 1828).

After the Union of the Crowns the tower had its flat roof and crenellated parapet replaced by twin roofs and a pair of gables and so remained until 1845 when Lady Ravensworth had it converted into almshouses, completely altering its appearance so that the only original external feature visible is the entrance door on the south side. The tower measures externally 42 feet E-W and 36 feet N-S, and a present height of 40 feet. The ground floor is vaulted, measuring internally 25 feet x 19 feet. There are traces of a mural stair in the east wall, a passage to the stair having led from the vestibule inside the front entrance (Dodds 1935).

The walling of the lower 2 floors is original, but the upper floor and all architectural features except the south door are modern There is a plinth course visible on the north and east wall. In good condition; the building is still in use as an almshouse (F1 EG 03-FEB-54). (PastScape)

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 ReferenceNU069118
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  • Geldard, Ed, 2009, Northumberland Strongholds (London: Frances Lincoln) p. 86
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 157-9
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 110
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 200 (slight)
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 33
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 344
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 351
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 172-3
  • Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles (1970 Reprint by Frank Graham) p. 228-9
  • Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1935, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 14 p. 503-4
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Dixon, D.D., 1895, Whittingham Vale (Newcastle)
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 17, 24, 42 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)
  • Hodgson, J., 1828, History of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Part 3 Vol. 2 p. 210 online copy
  • Hodgson, J., 1820, History of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Part 3 Vol. 1 p. 28 online copy


  • Willey, Garry, 2009 Oct 27, 'Historic Whittingham Tower turned into a cannabis farm ' The Journal online copy
  • 1899, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 9 p. 91-2 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 17, 24, 42 online copy

Primary Sources