Cornhill Tower

Has been described as a Possible Tower House

There are no visible remains

NameCornhill Tower
Alternative NamesCornhill House
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishCornhill on Tweed

Dodds says that the tower and barmkin were built in 1382 half a mile to the South-East in Cornhill village to guard a new ford across the river (Dodds, 1999). (PastScape)

Cornhill House. This house is thought to be built around a late 16th or early 17th century strong house. The 18th and 19th century alterations and extensions hide the earlier parts of the building and no early features are visible. An even earlier tower is recorded at Cornhill and remnants of a building foundation north of the house have been proposed as its site. (Keys to the Past)

House. Probably late C16 or early C17, remodelled and extended early and mid C18. Nursery wing added early C19 and extended mid C19. Roughcast with painted stone surrounds to doors and windows; Welsh slate roof, brick chimneys. Irregular plan. 3 storeys and 2 storeys in different parts. East (garden) front in 3 sections. In the centre the gable end of the original building has one 12-pane sash on ground floor and one small square window in the attic; crow-stepped gable. Left early C18 section incorporating older masonry: 2 storeys, 3 bays; C19 12-pane sashes. Right early C18 section has irregular openings: Victorian canted bay window on ground floor; above three 12-pane sashes and one 6-pane sash, all with thick glazing bars. Very steeply- pitched roofs with raised coping and kneelers. C19 chimneys. Right return: C18 wing projects to left. Right of that 3-bay south front of original building has 12-pane sashes with thick glazing bars. Rear facade has gable end of original building to left with small square attic window and crow-stepped gable. Early C19 Nursery wing to right has tripartite doorway to left then a recessed section with elaborate iron balcony in front. Interior: original house has walls c.3 ft. thick. Dining room has mid-C18 panelling and plaster modillion cornice, 2 doorways with pulvinated friezes and cornices

Small drawing room has C18 panelling and stone fireplace with eared architrave. 3-storey stair round oval well: cut string, shaped tread ends, turned balusters with square knops and moulded and ramped handrail. In the attic an early C17 stone fireplace with geometric patterns in the lintel. Passageway on 1st floor has 2 round arches with heavily-moulded archivolts, imposts and keystones. Described as "the ancient seat of the Collingwoods" by Mackenzie. (Listed Building Report)

The street, from the church, forms a wide avenue, at the foot of which stands the ancient seat of the Collingwood family. It is an old house, built in form of a cross, on the top of a fine terraced lawn, from which there is a delightful view of the fertile vales below (Mackenzie, 1825)

Gatehouse Comments

Most authors, including Mackenzie, have assumed the castle/tower of Cornhill recorded as taken by the French in 1549 and recorded in C16 lists was at the site of the Cornhill Castle earthworks. PastScape seem to have accepted Dodds view that this castle was abandoned in the C14 and the later historical references are to this possible tower house in the village. It should be noted the Cornhill Castle earthwork are heavily damaged but don't contain evidence of masonry buildings. The current Cornhill house is not cross shaped but if the precursor building was of this form then it may have been taking an architectural reference from Warkworth Castle where the cross shaped Great Tower dates from about 1380. This tower is attributed to John Lewyn. As the bishop of Durham's mason his work would have been well known in this area. The current Coldstream Bridge was built 1763. Does this represent the site of the medieval crossing point(s)? Did these change from the date of the construction of Cornhill Castle and Cornhill Tower?

- 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 ReferenceNT855392
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Calculate Print


  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 33-4
  • Mackenzie, E., 1825, View of the County of Northumberland Vol. 1 p. 340 online copy
  • see also bibliography for Cornhill Castle


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England (Sutton Publishing) p. 345
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 67 online copy

Primary Sources