Skelsmergh Hall

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are major building remains

NameSkelsmergh Hall
Alternative Names
Historic CountryWestmorland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishSkelsmergh

One wing is a pele-tower, probably 15th. century. The attached house is late 16th-early 17th. century, with later additions (RCHME).

A chapel of St. John the Baptist and its burial ground once existed at Skelsmergh Hall, (or possibly only at Skelsmergh - passage ambiguous). In 1680 it was noted that part of the choir walls were standing and that a stream from St. John's Well ran through it from E. to W. No trace now remains (TCWAAS 1882).

Skelsmergh Hall, a typical semi-fortified manor house with attached pele tower, grade 2 (Listed Building Report)

Tower house of circa 1425, 16th century parlour, extended in the 17th century (RCHME).

According to Tyson, this was not the site of St John's well and Chapel. Evidence suggests they they were in fact located further north, near SD53059708 (Tyson 1998). (PastScape)

Skelsmergh Hall (Plate 152), 560 yards N.N.E. of the church, is partly of two and partly of three storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are slate-covered. The N.E. wing of the house formed the rectangular tower of the Leyburne family and was built probably in the 15th century. The wing containing the parlour was added to the S. of it late in the 16th century and was extended E. early in the 17th century. The kitchen at the end of this extension may be of later date. There are various modern additions. The Tower (40 ft. by 22 ft. externally) is of three storeys but has lost its parapets. The end walls have original windows to the upper storeys, of two trefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded label; the lower pair of these have been altered and partly destroyed. The side walls have a number of single-light windows also original. The ground stage of the tower has a plain barrel-vault of rubble. In the S.E. angle of the upper floors is a circular staircase and in the N.W

angle a garde-robe projection; both are lit by loops. The floor of the top storey has gone except for two beams; the roof is of four bays with cambered tie-beams, king-posts, principals curved on the underside and raking struts below them; it is probably original and arranged to allow for a walk behind the parapet, though the present modern covering extends over the walls. The S. wing has in the W. wall a 16th-century doorway with moulded jambs and curved head; above it is a decayed panel bearing a date, possibly 1611. Re-set on the modern porch is part of the head of a fireplace with the date 1629. The 16th-century part of the wing retains original windows with moulded stone jambs, mullions, transoms and labels. The 17th-century extension also retains two of its original windows, of similar character to those just described; two more windows of this age light the staircase-wing. Inside the building are some exposed ceiling-beams, 17th-century panelled partitions and doors. There is also a small spice-cupboard and an early 18th-century fireplace with a corbelled head.

Condition—Good. (RCHME 1936)

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 ReferenceSD531958
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

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  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 365
  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 89
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 274 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 494
  • Hugill, Robert, 1977, Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 175-6
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1967, Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (Harmondsworth) p. 292
  • Sister Agnes, 1949, The Story of Skelsmergh: An Outline of the History of Three Great Families who Resided in this District (Kendal: Westmorland Gazette)
  • Palmer, J.H., 1944, Historic Farmhouses in and around Westmorland (Kendal) p. 110
  • RCHME, 1936, An inventory of the historical monuments in Westmorland (HMSO) p. 212-13 no. 2 plan [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. 396
  • Taylor, M.W., 1892, Old Manorial Halls of Westmorland and Cumberland (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 8) p. 223-6 online copy


  • Ewbank, J.M. (ed), 1963, Antiquary on Horseback (CWAAS extra series No. 19) (Thomas Machell's writings)


  • Tyson, Blake, 1998, St John's Well and Chapel, Skelsmergh: their location and present condition' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 98 p. 155-167 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. 27 online copy
  • Reade, 1882, 'Excursions' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 6 p. 202-3 online copy


  • Tony Cousins, 2013, Victoria County History of Cumbria Project. Draft parish/township histories Skelsmergh online copy
  • Clare, T., 1982, A Report on Medieval Fortified Sites in Cumbria (Cumbria CC)