Cresswell Tower

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are major building remains

NameCresswell Tower
Alternative NamesCreswell
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishCresswell

Cresswell tower house is an unusually complete example of a tower house which is in good condition.

The monument includes a medieval tower house situated within the grounds of Cresswell Towers Caravan Park on the Northumberland coast. It was formerly the seat of the Cresswell family. A large 18th century house was once built on to the north end of the tower and was demolished in the mid 19th century. This house was replaced by Cresswell Hall built in 1821-5, lying some distance further west. This was in turn demolished in 1937. The tower, which is Listed Grade 2star, is now an isolated structure set within woodland. The only trace of the former mansion is its roof groove on the north wall of the tower. The medieval tower is 15th century in date, with an 18th century parapet and turret, and is a rectangular structure measuring 12.5m by 8.5m externally, its long axis runing north east to south west. The structure is built of coursed and squared stone and the parapet and battlements are of high quality close jointed stone work. The north elevation of the tower, formerly adjoined by the 18th century house, is the most complex elevation. Set east of the centre at basement level is a doorway with a segmental pointed arch, with a double chamfered surround. The arched doorway is of medieval character, but its relationship with the surrounding stonework suggests that it may be a later insertion. At first floor level is a similar, but wider doorway that looks to be an original feature; west of it are the remains of a window. At the west end of the wall, and set a little lower, is another blocked doorway which had a quadrant-shaped head and a chamfered surround. Above the principal blocked first-floor doorway are a series of sockets marking the position of the attic floor of the 18th century house, and then a series of infilled vertical slots indicating the positions of former corbels carrying a machicolated projection protecting the doorways below

East of these is a single light square headed window with a chamfered surround and a second similar window just above the roof line of the removed house, further west. At the north east corner of the parapet is a taller turret, carried on shallow corbels, with a groove marking the roof line of the former house cut across its north face. The east end of the tower has a central chamfered loop, and, further to the north, a vesica shaped opening cut through a single slab, lighting the newel stair. There are larger chamfered square headed windows at first and second floor levels and another corbelled out turret at the south east corner, although this one does not rise above the general height of the embattled parapet. The south wall has no openings at basement level. At first floor level is a sizeable square headed window with a chamfered surround, formerly with a mullion and transom, a projecting stone spout and a tiny loop. At second floor level there are smaller chamfered windows towards each end of the wall, as on the north. A corbelled out projection at parapet level appears to be the base of a chimney. The only opening on the west side is a chamfered loop to the basement, set centrally. At parapet level are two corbelled out projections, the northern probably a chimney. The interior is currently inaccessible, however previous sources have depicted the basement with a pointed tunnel vault, with a square projection at the north east corner housing the newel stair, and a wall cupboard at the west end. At first floor level there is a fireplace with segmental pointed arches in both south and west walls, an L-plan mural garderobe at the west end of the south wall and a wall cupboard in the west wall. At second floor level there are fewer features. In the west wall is a cupboard or aumbry with an arched head. Sources from earlier this century claim that an inscription on the internal lintel and jambs of a window in the north east turret read 'William Cresswell, brave hero'. (Scheduling Report)

Towerhouse, probably C14; embattled parapet early C18. Squared stone with dressings. Rectangular plan, 3 storeys. Segmental pointed doorways to ground and 1st floors on north, the upper being the original entrance (traces of machicolated projection above). Windows mostly rectangular chamfered loops, except for ground floor vesica on east and larger C17 window, formerly with mullion and transom, on 1st floor south. All openings to lower floors blocked at time of survey. Corbelled-out turrets at eastern angles, smaller corbelled projections at parapet level on south and west.

Interior: Ground floor has barrel vault. Newel stair at north-east corner. Contemporary fireplaces, mural recesses and garderobe.

The medieval tower of the Cresswells; an adjacent 'mansion house' on the north was built in the early C18 and demolished in the C19. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Although there was probably always an attached building this is a large complex chamber tower rather than a simple solar tower.

- 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 ReferenceNZ293933
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