Haltwhistle Red Lion Tower

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are major building remains

NameHaltwhistle Red Lion Tower
Alternative NamesThe Centre of Britain Hotel
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishHaltwhistle

Hotel. Probably mid C15 pele tower with early-mid C18 wing; entire street front refaced and refenestrated in late C18-early C19. Rubble (rendered and painted on front), plain-tiled roofs and stone chimney stacks. Rectangular- plan pele tower with wing on left. Slightly-projecting 3-storey pele tower: one-bay street front and 2 bay returns; low plinth; sashes and casements in architraves; loop at left (lighting mural stair) in later cable-moulded surround; incised band beneath top storey; projecting panelled flat-coped parapet on rendered corbels; pitched roof with blocked window; C18 corniced lateral stack at right. 3-storey, 2-bay wing: low plinth; 4-panel door at right in architrave with frieze and cornice; door under distyle Tuscan porch; 2-light windows in architraves with replaced sashes and casements (central mullion removed from ground-floor windows); 3 round plaques on top storey (fire-insurance mark on central plaque); panelled flat-coped parapet above string; pitched roof with rebuilt stone left end stack. 2 cylindrical tapering water-spouts on right return of pele-tower parapet. Exposed original corbels and parapet on rear of pele tower. Interior: pele tower has 2-flight mural stone stair in left return wall; stone fireplace on second floor with moulded 2-order segmental arch on corbels supporting massive lintel. Wing has 4-flight dogleg staircase with ramped handrail and st$ck balusters; 2 pairs of upper crucks halved and crossed at apex. Altered 2-storey wing on right of pele tower and C19 rear additions are not of special interest. Though altered, the pele tower is important as a rare urban survival

(Listed Building Report)

Interestingly, limited archaeological investigations have suggested that The Centre of Britain Hotel (formerly the Red Lion) on the northern side of Main Street opposite Market Place, a Tower House in origin with later additions and probably no earlier than 17th century in date, contains no evidence within or below it for any earlier structure on the site. Could this be evidence of infill within a more extensive open area extending to the north of Main Street?

The Centre of Britain Hotel (formerly the Red Lion Hotel) on the north side of Main Street incorporates at its core an unusually late, almost archaic tower house of some pretension; a very rare urban survival with corbelled-out parapet (restored along the frontage but original elsewhere) and a gabled cap-house. Archaeological monitoring of developments at the hotel in 1996-7 indicated that the tower was probably built as a free-standing structure in the early 17th century (fragments of clay pipes of this date were found stratified under areas of the foundations of the building which were removed for underpinning). The basement of the tower, which was provided with its own water supply, included a narrow stair set into the west wall to provide access to the first floor, the principal apartment of the tower and fitted out with fireplace and garderobe. The main access to this apartment, though, was a door in the north wall which, in the absence of stairs, must have been reached by ladder. The second floor, in the absence of any other obvious means, was, again, presumably accessed by ladder. It would have served as a solar or private chamber and contains an original fireplace. A substantial three-storey block attached to the south of the tower in the late 17th century was probably one half of a symmetrical arrangement, a similar block appended to the north, but this part was demolished, certainly by the late 18th century, before the present rear wings and outshot were added. (Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey)

Gatehouse Comments

Sometimes suggested as the Musgrove Tower recorded in 1415 and 1541 although this seems unlikely.

- 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 ReferenceNY707641
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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
Copyright Ken Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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  • 1996-97, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 7 p. 35


  • Northumberland County Council, 2009, 'Haltwhistle' Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey doi:10.5284/1000177 [download copy > http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/northumberland_eus_2011/downloads.cfm?REDSQUIDARCHIVES_7_799BB461-A0C4-488C-B90DF1259EFE2DA8&area=Haltwhistle]
  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 4 Tynedale District Vol. 2 p. 75-80
  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, The Red Lion Hotel, Haltwhistle. An historical and structural assessment
  • Ryder, P.F., 1997. The Red Lion Hotel, Haltwhistle. Archaeological recording 1996/1997