Crenellated Towers in Kingston upon Hull

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Town House

There are no visible remains

NameCrenellated Towers in Kingston upon Hull
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityKingston upon Hull; City of
1974 AuthorityHumberside
Civil ParishKingston upon Hull

Hull was granted a licence to crenellate the town wall in 1321. Six years later, in the first year of Edward III's reign this licence is confirmed and an additional licence given to the burgesses to crenellate their houses with stone and tegula (translated variously as tile or brick). No specific person or house is identified.

Gatehouse Comments

In the Cotton collection of manuscripts in the British Museum is a birds eye plan of Hull, sometimes said to be a C14 date although more probably of c. 1530 (It may have been based on an earlier plan as it does have some anachronistic features.). As with all such plans interpretation can be difficult but there seems to be several crenellated houses, at least three with towers. One of these is the house known variously as the Duke of Suffolks Palace or Courthall Other Hull merchants may well have felt a particular need to compete socially with such a prestigious person as Courthall builder Micheal de la Pole. Henry VIII antiquarian John Leland, writing in the 1530's, mentions three other houses with 'towers of brike built by Michael de la Pole in Hull, '2. of them be in the hart of the toun. The 3. is apon Hulle ripe in the haven side'. He also records the town hall as having a brick tower for a prison. Given Leland's political purpose we have to question these towers representing all that survived in Leland's time or just those buildings that Leland felt were importance enough to report? The VCH identifies a number of possible towers from names in the Hull City records; Whitehouse Tower, midway along Market Place; Stonehouse Tower on the Foreland; Harper Tower, Ingilby Tower and Burdux Tower (Sometimes 'Burdour', 'Burdeux'; perhaps from Bordeaux and having some connexion with the wine trade. The de la Pole's were known to have imported Gascon wine). Several other domestic houses known from the record may also have had some crenellated features. At least eleven crenellated structures can be identified on the Hull town plan, other than churches and the town walls, of which one will be the town hall prison. Most of these towers and houses will have been built of brick, which was ubiquitous in Hull, although presumably not Stonehouse tower.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTA100288
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Calculate Print


  • Allison, K.J. (ed), 1969, VCH Yorkshire: East Riding Vol. 1 p. 76-77


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 535
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 49-50 online copy


  • Davis, Philip, 2010-11, 'Crenellated town houses in Medieval England' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 24 p. 270-91

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1327-30) Vol. 1 p. 33 online copy
  • Boyle, J. R., 1905, Charters and Letters Patent granted to Kingston upon Hull (Hull Corporation) p. 10-11
  • National Archive SC 8/14/693 (a petition for a licence which the NA links to this licence, although may apply to the earlier licence of 1321) online copy