Ponteland Vicarage Tower

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are major building remains

NamePonteland Vicarage Tower
Alternative NamesPonteland Vicars Pele
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishPonteland

Tower house. Said to be C14, but existing remains appear C16 or early C17. Random rubble patched with brick. 3 storeys. c.24 x 20 ft. in plan.

On south side 3 large openings with C20 lintels.

On west side a blocked C16 door with chamfered surround; also a roof groove and holes for roof timbers of former adjoining wing. One chamfered jamb of the doorway into this wing also survives with harr post and drawbar slot. Blocked door on 1st floor has part of early-medieval grave cover with Celtic cross, used as jamb stone. Two C16 windows with chamfered surrounds. Roof groove of former attached wing.

A controlled ruin at time of survey. (Listed Building Report)

Despite having been incorporated within a later building in the 19th century, the medieval tower house, or Vicar's Pele, at Ponteland survives well. It will contribute to any study of defensible buildings at this time.

The monument includes a tower house of medieval date situated in the centre of Ponteland. The tower, built of random rubble and patched with brick, is roofless and survives as a standing building three storeys high. Some restoration work was carried out in 1971. It is rectangular in plan and measures a maximum 7m north-south by 6.2m east-west. The south elevation contains three large openings, one on each floor, with concrete lintels and sills and metal grilles incorporated during the work in 1971; the ground floor opening is a doorway and clearly a later insertion. The west elevation has several blocked openings, including two window loops and two doorways, as well as the chamfered jamb of a doorway, a series of socket holes outlining the roof line of a former attached building and a round window, possibly of 18th century date. The north elevation also contains two blocked doorways, the lower one probably a later insertion and the first floor one possibly contemporary with a mural stair of which there are indications in the wall fabric

The first floor doorway incorporates part of a medieval incised grave cover in its western jamb. Other openings include two window loops at first and second floor level, where there is also another old roof line. The east elevation contains a blocked window loop at first floor level with a larger bricked-up opening to the south; at second floor level there is another circular window similar to that on the west elevation. Internally, there are traces of a former north-south vault, which has now been cut away, and various blocked openings. In the north east corner, at first floor level, a small room is interpreted as a garderobe. The tower, which is a Grade II Listed Building, is commonly called the Vicar's Pele and was part of the former vicarage which was demolished at the end of the 19th century, leaving the tower standing alone. The earliest documentary reference to the tower is in a list of 1415. It has been suggested that the tower was created in the 15th century by the conversion of a 13th century hall house. There are slight earthworks on the north and west sides but no clear indications of the extent of this former building. (Scheduling Report)

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 ReferenceNZ164728
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Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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Calculate Print


  • Geldard, Ed, 2009, Northumberland Strongholds (London: Frances Lincoln) p. 38
  • Harrison, Peter, 2004, Castles of God (Woodbridge; Boydell Press) p. 67
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 275
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 91
  • Pevsner, N., 1992 (revised by Grundy, John et al), Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 543
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 75
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 340
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 295
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles in Northumberland (Newcastle) p. 146
  • Pevsner, N., 1957, Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 277 (slight)
  • Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles p. 156
  • Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1926, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 12 p. 416, 446
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 19 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)


  • Bradley, J and Gaimster, M. (eds), 2004, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2003' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 48 p. 283 download copy
  • 2003-4, 'The Vicar's Pele - Northumberland - Wins Civic Award' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 17 p. 58-9 (news report reprinted from Archaeology in Northumberland article)
  • Rogers, P., 2002-03, 'A towering achievement' Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 13 p. 23
  • 1994-95, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 5 p. 47
  • Hadcock, R.N., 1939, 'A map of mediaeval Northumberland and Durham' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 16 p. 148-218
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 19 online copy

Primary Sources


  • Young, G.L., Twomey, G., 2010, 'Old Rectory, Ponteland, Northumberland. Report of Archaeological Monitoring and Excavation' , BRP 07/09b. Bamburgh Research Project: Blyth, Northumberland online copy