Great Ormside Hall

Has been described as a Possible Pele Tower

There are major building remains

NameGreat Ormside Hall
Alternative Names
Historic CountryWestmorland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishOrmside

Ormside Hall (Plate 16), 70 yards S.E. of the church, is of two and three storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are slate-covered. The house belonged to the family of Barton till late in the 16th century, when it passed to Sir Christopher Pickering and from him to the Hilton family. The building was probably of the usual mediæval form with a hall-block and cross-wings at the N.E. and S.W. ends. The existing S.W. wing dates from late in the 14th or early in the 15th century, but the main or hall-block appears to have been re-built in the 17th century and the other cross-wing no longer exists. The S.W. wing is of three storeys; at the S.E. end the middle storey has an original window of two trefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded label; the label of a similar window remains in the floor below and in the top floor is a 15th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights; the N.W. end has two 17th-century windows and on the top floor a 15th or early 16th-century window of two lights with arched heads under a square moulded label. On the S.W. side are two windows with elliptical heads probably of the 17th century; one of these has a square moulded label. Inside the wing, there was formerly a circular staircase in the E. angle, now cut through to form an entrance and opening into a small lobby with 17th-century round-headed doorways, in the thickness of the N.E. wall. The first floor has a 17th-century frieze of modelled plaster, with scroll-ornament. The main block has a late 17th or early 18th-century doorway with a moulded architrave and key-block. The outbuilding, N.E. of the house, incorporates two 17th-century windows. The entrance to the courtyard is flanked by two late 17th or early 18th-century rusticated piers with moulded cappings and ball-terminals.

Condition—Fairly good

(RCHME 1936)

The seat of the Barton family until they sold it, temp. Queen Elizabeth, to Sir Christopher Pickering, who died in 1620, from whom it passed to Cyprian Hylton, who died in 1652. The history of the building, which clearly started as a small peel tower in the 14th century, is unknown. Since 1811 the embattled roof has been taken off and a slated gable erected in its place. The Hall faces the church and forms three sides of a quadrangle, there are a number of arched stone passages, but the rooms possess no features of interest. (Curwen 1932)

Gatehouse Comments

A fortified solar tower attached to an unfortified hall of an important gentry family.

- 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 ReferenceNY701175
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Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved

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  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 302
  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 78
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 274 (slight)
  • Jackson, M.J.,1990, Castles of Cumbria (Carlisle: Carel Press) p. 77
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 495 (possible)
  • Hugill, Robert, 1977, Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 152-3
  • RCHME, 1936, An inventory of the historical monuments in Westmorland (HMSO) p. 187 no. 3 plan [online transcription >]
  • Curwen, J.F., 1932, 'Parishes (East Ward): St James, Ormside' The Later Records relating to North Westmorland: or the Barony of Appleby p. 189-94 online transcription
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 310-11


  • Brunskill, R.W., 1956, 'Three medieval manor-houses of North Westmorland' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 56 p. 79-83 online copy


  • Clare, T., 1982, A Report on Medieval Fortified Sites in Cumbria (Cumbria CC)