Kirkheaton Manor House

Has been described as a Questionable Pele Tower, and also as a Questionable Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameKirkheaton Manor House
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishCapheaton

House. C16 Bastlehouse refronted early C17; extension to right added c.1740. Restored 1930. Random rubble with Lakeland slate roof; C18 section ashlar with lead roof.

2 storeys, 5 bays. 3-bay C17 section to left has central Tudor-arched doorway, moulded surround with hoodmould; 3-light mullioned windows, made slightly larger in 1930, with hoodmoulds; C17 lead downpipes and rainwater heads, said to have come from Hawnby Castle, North Yorkshire.

Higher 2-bay C18 section to right has large 24-pane sashes on ground floor, 1st floor string and 18-pane sashes above with triple keystones. Moulded cornice and solid parapet with angle pilasters and pilasters above windows.

Older part has gabled roof with flat coping and kneelers. C19 end and ridge stacks.

Interior: Walls of older part are 3½ - 4½ ft. thick. The front wall is slightly thinner than the others. Dining room has a large C17 stone fireplace with Tudor-arched head. Former kitchen has large segmental-arched fireplace. On the 1st floor three stone fireplaces with Tudor arches, one with the lintel supported on large rounded corbels. C18 section has, on ground floor, a late C19 Gothic fireplace with a frieze of tiles showing the 4 seasons; also a restrained C19 plaster ceiling with Geometric shapes. The 1st-floor former drawing room, now a bedroom, has C18 fielded panelling with wood cornice. In the rear wall a C16 doorway with Tudor-arched head and broach-stopped chamfered surround. (Listed Building Report)

House incorporates C16 bastle and has later additions dating to C17, C18 and C20. It was probably built for Cuthbert Heron of Kirkheaton at the end of C16 and was lived in until 1900. For the next 30 years it lay empty and became derelict, but was restored by 1931. The north wall and end walls of the main part of the building have walls about 1m wide and are probably the remains of the original defensible building or bastle

There may also have been a turret or possibly a full size tower. In C17 the building was altered and many features of this period still survive. An extension was built in the mid-C18 as well as some alterations to the main building. C20 restoration heightened many of the rooms in the main building and enlarged the windows. (Keys to the Past)

The house consists of a three-bay two-storeyed block with a rather taller two-storey two-bay extension at the east end, and a c1931 rear wing running north from the west end.

The Main Block: Exterior.

The main block measures 15.3 by 7.2 m externally; its north side and end walls are around 1.0 m thick, and constructed of large roughly-squared blocks; the front wall (except for a patch to the east of the doorway) is of much smaller stone, and only c 0.75 m thick; it has a heavy square plinth which may mark the line of the original front face prior to rebuilding.

The development of the house appears to have taken place in at least four phases:

(1) The late 16th/early 17th century

The thicker end and rear walls of the main block appear to survive from a defensible structure of some type, either a 'strong house' or possibly a rather superior bastle. The original entrance doorway may have been on the north, beneath a panel which presumably contained the Heron arms. There appears to have been a tower or turret of some sort at the east end, perhaps a gable-end turret like those recorded at Hirst Tower (Ashington) and Healey Hall (both now demolished), or possibly a full-size tower occupying the area between the present east end and the thick cross-wall, which is otherwise a difficult feature to explain.

(2) The later 17th century

The house was remodelled as a conventional ground- floor dwelling in the later 17th century, perhaps by Richard Stokoe; most of the surviving architectural features date to this phase. There appears to have been a service wing, perhaps containing a kitchen, to the north-west; there may also have been additional buildings to the east, as suggested by the apparent traces of a structure incorporated in the garden wall. (Ryder 1994-5)

Gatehouse Comments

Seemingly a gentry status superior bastlehouse rather than a pelehouse. However, does not seem to have been stone vaulted and the ground floor seems to have been residential from the start. It may have been built to externally resemble an older style 'pele tower' and attached hall although the internal structure differed from that building form. N.B. The later eastern extension of 1740 is built to resemble a 'pele tower' but that is not the feature suggested as the original possible 'tower' or turret.

- 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 ReferenceNZ018773
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 278
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 359
  • Pevsner, N., 1957, Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 201
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 18 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)


  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)
  • Carter, J.F., 1931-2, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser4) Vol. 5 p. 119-24
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 18 online copy


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 3 Castle Morpeth District p. 20-3