Arnside Tower

Has been described as a Certain Tower House

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameArnside Tower
Alternative NamesArmside
Historic CountryWestmorland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishArnside

Fortified Tower House. Probably C15. Burnt 1602, repaired probably mid C17, dismantled C17. Massive limestone rubble walls with roughly dressed stone details. Staircase tower of rectangular plan and projecting garderobe. Formerly 5 storeys. Window openings to all sides, some blocked or extended: surviving openings have square heads. Parapet, projecting on rounded corbels, survives to North-west corner. Interior has remains of cross-wall incorporating newel stair, fireplaces with stone lintels and a niche on the first floor said to have been used as a piscina which suggests that the East corner may have been a chapel. Although ruinous at time of survey it appears to be a unique example in this area of a freestanding tower without a hall block. (Listed Building Report)

Arnside Tower (Plate 73), on the S.E. side of the parish, is a structure of local rubble and rough ashlar, formerly of four and five storeys, but now roofless, floorless and partially ruined. It was built as a large pele-tower probably in the 15th century. It was burnt in 1602, but was later repaired and occupied. It was finally dismantled in 1684–90. In 1884 the S.W. angle and most of the S. wall was blown down in a hurricane.

The ruin is a good example of the larger pele-towers of the district.

The tower was formerly divided by a cross-wall, mostly fallen, into two unequal parts, the N.W. part containing the principal rooms and of four storeys, and the other with the N. tower and garde-robe tower of five storeys. The entrance was in the middle of the N.E. face and had a pointed arch, but this is now fallen and only a gap remains. All the surviving windows and loops are square headed, but some of the windows are now represented only by gaps in the walling. The N

tower retains some part of its parapet, projecting slightly on rounded corbels; a similar parapet remains at a slightly higher level on the surviving part of the N.W. wall. Inside the building, rounded corbels for the support of the wall-plates remain in the N.W. and S.E. walls. The turret-staircase at the end of the cross-wall is still largely complete. The lowest room in the N.W. part, probably the kitchen, has a large fireplace in the N.E. wall; the arch has fallen, but there is a semi-circular niche in one end of the recess, a fire-window in the other and a large oven in the base of the N. tower. The room above perhaps served as the hall and has remains of a large fireplace; above it is a second room retaining a fireplace with a shouldered lintel. The top room also has a fireplace with a plain lintel. The S.E. part of the building has a fireplace in each of its four upper storeys; the two uppermost retain their lintels, but the others are ruined. (RCHME 1936)

Arnside Tower is one of seven towers or fortified houses which exist, or once did so, within a seven-mile square on both sides of the Kent estuary. That district was open to attack by the Scots, either following the coast down to Furness and Cartmel, as Bruce did in 1322, or taking a more inland route down the valley of the Kent. Besides being threatened by the Scots, and thus needing refuges and beacon sites, the North was disturbed by the quarrels and violence of the local nobles and gentry, so that a man might feel safer living in such a fortress as Arnside, Tower. It is also possible that at one time the owner held in it a manorial court for his Arnside tenants.

If of 15th-century date, the Tower was presumably built for some member of the de Bethom family, lords of the manor of Beetham from about 1195 to 1485. The family was probably, like some others in the locality, Yorkist in allegiance. At any rate Roger Bethom was an adherent of the Earl of Warwick in 1459; and after the battle of Bosworth, according to tradition, the estate was forfeited and granted to the Earl of Derby. The devolution of the manor is, however, obscure. Agnes, daughter and heir of Sir Roger Bethom, in the reign of Edward IV married a Robert Middleton, and a Thomas Middleton was in occupation of the manor at his death in 1517. The Stanleys owned it in 1574 and except for a few years about 1655, continued to do so until it was sold to Daniel Wilson of Dallam Tower in 1815.

While in the possession of the Stanleys the Tower was damaged by fire in a high wind in 1602 and dismantled late in the 17th century, though it could still be said in 1777 that the walls were 'not much decayed'. The north and east wall and much of the west wall still stand but the great masses of masonry visible on the south side were brought down by a storm about 1884. (Jones 1965)

Gatehouse Comments

While Jones is right in his history of the area (although Arnside is well south of the border), particularly in regard to internecine feuding, this can be over emphasised and it is notably this house was burnt out in 1602 because of accident not violence. Almost certainly the site of the manorial court, with all that implies in terms of status and income. Sometime called a pele tower but more a towerhouse than a pele tower in the usual sense used in England (a chamber block attached to a hall). Although has small windows and was probably battlemented this is clearly a domestic house, not a fortress.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

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 ReferenceSD457768
Latitude54.1844100952148
Longitude-2.83088994026184
Eastings345770
Northings476840
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print

Books

  • Bradbury, Dennis, 2000, Arnside A Historical Perspective of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries in a Westmorland Village (Kendal: Stramongate Press) p. 69 (slight)
  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 325 (plan)
  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 15
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 183
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 265
  • Cope, Jean, 1991, Castles in Cumbria (Cicerone Press) p. 117-18
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 490
  • Clare, T., 1981, Archaeological Sites of the Lake District (Moorland Publishing) p. 92
  • Hugill, Robert, 1977, Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 32-3
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1967, Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (Harmondsworth) p. 221
  • RCHME, 1936, An inventory of the historical monuments in Westmorland (HMSO) p. 14-15 no. 1 plan [online transcription > http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=120727]
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 249-50
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Ford, J.Rawlinson (ed), 1906, The Beetham Repository, 1770, by the Rev. William Hutton, vicar of Beetham, 1762-1811 (Kendal: CWAAS Tract Series 7)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 281-2 online copy
  • Taylor, M.W., 1892, Old Manorial Halls of Westmorland and Cumberland (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 8) p. 217-19 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 208 online copy
  • Hodgson, J., 1810, Topographical and Historical Description of Westmoreland p. 228 online copy

Journals

  • Jones, G.P., 1965, 'Proceedings' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 65 p. 437-8 online copy
  • 1934, 'Proceedings' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 34 p. 214 online copy
  • Collingwood, W.G., 1926, 'An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Westmorland and Lancashire North-of-the-Sands' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 26 p. 30 online copy
  • Barnes, J.A., 1904, 'Hazelslack and Arnside Towers' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 4 p. 341-2 online copy
  • Ferguson, R.S., 1875, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 2.1 p. xi- online copy

Other

  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk North West Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 33, 34 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 36, 37 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 38, 40 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 50 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 46 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 43 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 51 online copy
  • Clare, T., 1982, A Report on Medieval Fortified Sites in Cumbria (Cumbria CC)