Radcliffe Tower

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House, and also as a Possible Pele Tower

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameRadcliffe Tower
Alternative NamesRadclif; Fair Helen's Tower
Historic CountryLancashire
Modern AuthorityBury
1974 AuthorityGreater Manchester
Civil ParishRadcliffe

The stone tower of the fortified house at Radcliffe survives well in spite of the loss of the upper storey and the roof. There are sufficient remains to confirm this as an important medieval building with unique features for this region, namely the presence of fireplaces in the ground floor chamber and the design of the timber hall which used to abut the tower on the west side. There are also substantial remains of the early enclosure ditch and rubble wall on the northern side, although the building of cottages in the 19th century on the north eastern sector has obscured and destroyed such remains there.

The monument includes a stone built tower house constructed in the medieval period, together with the buried remains of a timber hall constructed at the same time as the tower and lying to the west of the standing building. The tower, which is a Grade I Listed Building, survives as a roofless rectangular building. The ground floor has a stone tunnel vault, of which substantial parts remain. Internally the building measures 12.2m from north to south and 5.5m from east to west. The walls are 1.5m thick at the base, increased to 1.9m by a plinth surrounding the building at ground level. In the south west corner the wall is reinforced to 1.8m thick to accommodate a staircase in the thickness of the wall. In the eastern wall are two openings with a deep splay for windows, a fireplace in the centre and the flue in the thickness of the wall. In the opposite western wall is a central doorway with a pointed arch of a decorated style with a simple roll moulded surround. Larger windows were set in the north and south walls. Below each of these two windows there is a fireplace 3.2m wide and 2.2m high. The arches above the fires are repeated as a decoration in the outside walls of the tower. Above the ground floor room was an upper room with a fireplace set in the centre of the west wall

The present height of the tower is 8.5m but there is evidence from the 18th century that the original was three storeys high. This tower was built with a timber hall butted onto the west wall. Remains of the slot for the timbers of the hall are visible in the west wall, as is the outline of the hall gable end. This shows that access to the tower was through the hall and that the two buildings were designed as a whole. The timber hall was used as a farm building until it was demolished in about 1830. Excavations in 1979-1980 have revealed that the hall and tower were contained within a ditched enclosure on the northern side and that this was later reinforced by a rubble wall to form a square courtyard. The tower and hall were built by James de Radcliffe in 1403 when he was granted a licence to crenellate, that is, permission from the king to fortify his residence. The hall stands within 100m of the present parish church and this should be viewed as part of the extent of the original manor precinct. (Scheduling Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

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 ReferenceSD795075
Latitude53.5638084411621
Longitude-2.30975008010864
Eastings379580
Northings407510
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Lancashire and Cheshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 37
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 243
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 136
  • Tyson, N., 1985, 'Radcliffe Tower' in Walker, J.S.F. and Tyndall, A.S. (eds), Country Houses of Greater Manchester p. 47-51 online copy p. 102-3 [online copy > http://www.gmau.manchester.ac.uk/pdfs/chc6.pdf]
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 247
  • Gibson, Leslie Irving, 1977, Lancashire Castles and Towers (Dalesman Books)
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1969, Buildings of England: Lancashire, The rural north (Harmondsworth) p. 369
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Farrer, William and Brownbill, J. (eds), 1911, VCH Lancashire Vol. 5 p. 59-61 online transcription
  • Fishwick, 1907, 'Castles and Fortified Houses' in Fishwick and P.H. Ditchfield (eds), Memorials of Old Lancashire (London: Bemrose and sons) Vol. 2 p. 20-1 online copy
  • Nicholls, W., 1900, History and Traditions of Radcliffe (London: John Heywood)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 201 online copy
  • Whittaker, T.D., 1876 (4edn revised and enlarged by J. G. Nichols and Ponsonby Lyons), An History of the Original Parish of Whalley, and Honor of Clitheroe Vol. 2 p. 291 online copy
  • Baines, E., 1868-70 (2edn edited and enlarged by John Harland), History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster (London: George Routledge and sons) Vol. 1 p. 532-3 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 215, 421 online copy

Journals

  • Tyson, N., 1985, 'Excavations at Radcliffe Tower 1979-80' The Greater Manchester Archaeological Journal Vol.1 p. 39-53 online copy
  • Wilson, D., 1982, Moated Sites Research Group report Vol. 9
  • Fishwick, H., 1901, 'The Old Castles of Lancashire.' Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 19 p. 73-4 online copy
  • 1889, Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 7 p. 281-4 online copy

Guide Books

  • Arrowsmith, P., 1995, Radcliffe Tower: an introduction to the scheduled ancient monument (Bury: Bury Metropolitan Borough Council) online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1905, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry IV (1401-05) Vol. 2 p. 255 online copy

Other

  • Nevell, M., 2014, Architectural History and Archaeological Research Radcliffe Tower Bury (University of Salford for Bury Council) online copy part 1, [online copy part 2 > http://www.radcliffeheritage.co.uk/radcliffe-tower-report-pt1.pdf]
  • Grimsditch, B. and Nevell, M., 2014, Archaeological Research Radcliffe Heritage (University of Salford for Bury Council) online copy
  • OAN, 2007, Radcliffe Tower, Radcliffe, Greater Manchester: Archaeological Evaluation Report, Oxford Archaeology North, unpublished report online copy