Hartburn Church of St Andrew

Has been described as a Questionable Pele Tower, and also as a Questionable Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameHartburn Church of St Andrew
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishHartburn

Parish Church. Pre-Conquest core with tower and chancel rebuilt c.1200, aisles added and chancel extended in early C13, minor later medieval alterations, restoration 1843 and 1890. Squared stone with dressings; slate roofs except for stone slates to south porch and boiler house. 4-bay aisled nave with west tower and south porch, chancel,

Tower in 3 stages has moulded plinth and strings; stepped set-back buttresses. C15 3-light west window with pierced panel tracery; wide lancets to 2nd stage, blocked except on south; paired lancet belfry openings with octagonal column mullions. Parapet on stepped corbels.

West aisle lancets, northern partly hidden by C19 boiler house. South aisle wall 5 bays, north 4 bays; C19 paired lancets. Porch has C19 pointed arch set in larger round-headed double-chamfered openings; C18 panelled double doors. Coped gable with C18 tilted sundial as finial, small rectangular windows in returns, stone benches. Doorway has keeled and chamfered pointed arch, with colonnettes, bold dog tooth on hoodmould, jambs and external angles of door projection. Clerestory on south only; 3 low 2-light mullioned windows. East aisles lancets, to south of southern 1757 headstone affixed to wall. Massive eastern angle quoins of Pre-conquest nave exposed, on south tooled to resemble coursed masonry.

Chancel 3 bays. Lancets on south and low-side lancet at west end, with traces of blocked door to right and old studded priest's door under shouldered arch. East end has triplet of lancets. Stepped buttress bay divisions throughout.

Interior: Small doorway under round-headed window set in blocked round tower arch, itself an insertion; remains of earlier arched doorway above. Lower stage of tower barrel-vaulted with newel stair at north-west angle. Pointed double-chamfered nave arcades on octagonal piers with moulded capitals and bases; central pier on south has beaded abacus. South aisle east lancet has elaborate shouldered rear arch

Trefoiled piscina in south aisle and smaller piscina cut in east respond of north arcade.

Pointed chancel arch of 2 orders. Enriched trefoiled piscina, triple sedilia and second smaller trefoiled piscina. Eastern lancets have tall ringed jamb shafts and moulded rear arches.

C13 font: circular bowl on pillar with 3 smaller shafts. Memorials: Frosterley marble slab in chancel with Lombardic inscription to Sir Thomas de Errington, c.1310: C17 and C18 ledger stones; Monument to Mary Ann Bradford, d.1830, reclining figure by F. Chantrey; other C19 memorial slabs. Carved reredos and pulpit of Caen stone, 1890. Flags from Napoleonic War hang in chancel. Medieval stone coffins and Jacobean almsbox in south aisle. 2 medieval bells. Over nave arcades several re-used voussoirs with incised saltire crosses similar to those of C8 west doorway at Corbridge. (Listed Building Report)

The monks of Tynemouth Priory held the church from 1076 and in the early 12th century built a fortified tower to protect the tithes. Originally freestanding, the church was extended to join it shortly after. The base of the tower had a vaulted ground-floor chamber, and the monks lived in the upper floor. The Templars inherited the church and between 1250-1312 largely rebuilt it, retaining the tower, although they built a new pele and vicarage 100 yards North of the church. (PastScape ref. Dodds 1999)

Gatehouse Comments

Brooke writes the archaeology of this feature is far from straightforward. A chancel arch has been inserted into the tower wall but this has later been blocked to make the tower defensible. Certainly the arch is blocked but whether this was to make the tower defensible or to support the tower (some cracks appear in the masonry around the arch) is a mute question.

- 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 ReferenceNZ090860
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Copyright Colin Alexander All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Colin Alexander All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Brooke, C.J., 2000, Safe Sanctuaries (Edinburgh; John Donald) p. 142-5
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 254-5
  • Pevsner, N., 1992 (revised by Grundy, John et al), Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 304-5
  • Donnelly, A.F., 1967, The Parishes of Hartburn, Meldon and Netherwitton p. 22


  • Carlton, Richard, 2012, 'New heating reveals church's secrets Hartburn: St Andrew's Church' Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 21 p. 22-24 online copy