Lanercost Priory–Priors Tower

Has been described as a Possible Pele Tower

There are major building remains

NameLanercost Priory–Priors Tower
Alternative NamesDacre Tower: Dacre Hall
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishBurtholme

Lanercost Priory was dissolved in 1537 under the orders of Henry VIII and the buildings were granted to Sir Thomas Dacre who made alterations and converted some of the monastic buildings, including Dacre Hall, into a dwelling house by 1559. (Scheduling Report)

At the south end the west range is the large tower known as the Prior's House. Traditionally it has always been thought to be of medieval date but there is nothing with it its fabric which can be securely dated to this era. Indeed, there are considerable number of reused moulded medieval stones incorporated within its walls which tend to indicate it is largely a post-Dissolution construction. Standing four stories in height it retains many of its windows intact though all traces of a parapet or crenellations have been lost. Such a tower might easily be added to the building by the Dacres to form a strongpoint adjoining their hall. In fact its architectural features show that the upper floors from the principal private family apartments during the Dacre occupation of the building.

The Internal walls of the tower had been repaired before the Office of Works took over the site and much of the walling is confused by large areas of refacing. This is a distinctive ashlar with a rough finish, and it seems clear that in some areas it was simply used as a means of stabilising the wallcores without any care about retaining or reflecting original features.

At the north end of the east and west walls there are opposing doorways, with a small square-headed window in the middle of the east wall. The south and east walls are noticeably thicker than the west wall. This might indicate that the tower incorporates part of an earlier structure, possibly the priory kitchen within its fabric. Indeed the first floor was evidently a kitchen, for it has large fireplaces in the east and west walls, and ovens in the south-east and south-west corners

This might therefore represent the late priory kitchen remodelled and heightened by the Dacres. (Summerson and Harrison 2000).

Gatehouse Comments

West range of the cloisters of an Augustinian monastery were converted into a house after monastery dissolved in 1537. Although somewhat larger than most solar towers it was attached to a hall and was not a free standing tower house. The walls are not universally thick and their thickness may represent the needs for chimneys in the buildings first incarnation as a kitchen block. It seems quite likely this chamber block would have crenellated, as that was a standard architectural style for such towers in this area, although it is arguably how much this might be considered a 'fortified' building.

- Philip Davis

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 ReferenceNY556637
Latitude54.9657096862793
Longitude-2.69531011581421
Eastings355600
Northings563700
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 456-7
  • Harrison, Peter, 2004, Castles of God (Woodbridge; Boydell Press) p. 67
  • Brooke, C.J., 2000, Safe Sanctuaries (Edinburgh; John Donald) p. 266
  • Summerson, H. and Harrison, S., 2000, Lanercost Priory, Cumbria. A Survey and Documentary History (Kendal: CWAAS Research Series 10) p. 47, 48, 64, 67, 72, 130-3, 172
  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 70
  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 161 (plan)
  • Cope, Jean, 1991, Castles in Cumbria (Cicerone Press) p. 99-101
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 43
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 88
  • Hugill, Robert, 1977, Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 113-5
  • Knowles, David and Hadcock, R. Neville, 1971, Medieval religious houses in England and Wales (Longman) p. 162
  • Pevsner, N., 1967, Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (Harmondsworth: Penguin) p. 157
  • Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles (1970 Reprint by Frank Graham) p. 143-4
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 293

Journals

  • Whitworth, A.M., 1998, 'Lanercost Priory excavations in 1994' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 98 p. 133-44 online copy
  • Baldwin, M., 1958, 'A note on the Conventual Buildings' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 115 p. 225-7 online copy
  • Martindale, J.H., 1926, 'The Priory of Lanercost' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 26 p. 259-60 online copy
  • Collingwood, W.G., 1923, 'An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Cumberland' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 23 p. 247-8 online copy
  • Haverfield, F., 1896, 'Report of the Cumberland Excavation Committee, 1895' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 14 p. 195-6 (slight) online copy
  • Ferguson, R.S. and Ferguson, C.J., 1874, 'Lanercost Priory' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 1 p. 95-140 esp. p. 128 online copy

Guide Books

  • Keevil, Graham D., 2003, Lanercost Priory (London: English Heritage)
  • Moorman, John R.H., 1967 (2edn), Lanercost Priory (Brampton: John Moorman) p. 14

Other

  • Payne, A., 1998, Lanercost Priory, Cumbria Report on geophysical survey, May 1992 (Ancient Monuments Laboratory report 50/98) online copy