Helsington Laithes

Has been described as a Questionable Fortified Manor House, and also as a Questionable Pele Tower

There are major building remains

NameHelsington Laithes
Alternative Names
Historic CountryWestmorland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishHelsington

Manor House. Late C15/early C16. Partly rebuilt/extended c1690 for Colonel J. Graham. Wet-dashed rubble on plinth. Graduated slate roofs with projecting eaves. Diagonally-set rendered chimneys. Mainly 2 storeys with attics. Asymmetrical plan. Western block is oldest surviving part. Central block and eastern cross-wing added; plaster wall panel (originally on ceiling?) gives initials I. & A.B. (for James & Agnes Bellingham?) and date 1538 but details are identical to late C16 plasterwork at Levens Hall and date should probably read 1583. Symmetrical 4-bay east elevation has part-glazed central door with mullioned and transomed 3-light window, under hoodmould, to either side; four 3-light windows above. Windows throughout probably C19 (with majority of decorative leading replaced in C20) except for 2 original stone-mullioned windows to south elevation of western block: Ground floor window has 2 segment-headed lights, 1st floor window has 3 ogee-headed lights under hoodmould. Interior mainly C19 with some earlier studded plank doors and a C17 closed-string staircase with turned balusters, square newels, and moulded handrail. (Listed Building Report)

Helsington Laithes, house, bridge and barn, 1½ m. N.N.E. of Sizergh Castle. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are slate-covered. The block at the W. end was built probably late in the 15th or early in the 16th century. To it was added, probably late in the 16th century, an E. wing with a cross-wing at the end of it. The staircase-wing N. of the kitchen was added probably late in the 17th century and there are 18th-century additions on both the N. and S. sides. The external features are mostly modern, but on the S

side the original block (Plate 15) retains some original stone windows; that on the ground floor has two segmental-headed lights and a second window, with a square head, perhaps formerly a doorway; the floor above has a window of three ogee-headed lights in a square head with a moulded label. The chimney-stacks mostly have late 16th-century diagonal shafts, but the W. stack has three grouped cylindrical shafts. Inside the building, the S. room in the cross-wing has a large plaster wall-panel (Plate 52) with moulded ribs forming a geometrical design; it has floral enrichments, a cartouche with the initials I. and A.B. (for James and Agnes Bellingham?) and the date 1538; the details of the plaster work are exactly repeated at Levens Hall and it appears probable that the date should read 1583. The late 17th-century staircase has turned balusters. (RCHME 1936)

Gatehouse Comments

Gentry status medieval manor house. Included by Perriam and Robinson in their gazetteer of medieval fortified buildings but there is no evidence the medieval house was fortified. There is no mention of a moat or a tower. The C15 block at the west end of the building appears notably thick-walled on the plan in Perriam and Robinson but no one seems to be suggesting this was a tower (the ground floor seems to have been a dairy at some time and the thermal insulation of thick walls may have helped in this function although that may not be the initial reason for such walls).

- 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 ReferenceSD506907
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Copyright Clive Bowd All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 346 (plan)
  • Palmer, J.H., 1944, Historic Farmhouses in and around Westmorland (Kendal) p. 56
  • RCHME, 1936, An inventory of the historical monuments in Westmorland (HMSO) p. 108 no. 3 online transcription


  • 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. 29 online copy
  • Whiteside, J., 1908, 'Notes on the Chapelry at Helsington' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 8 p. 119 online copy


  • Sarah Rose, 2014, Victoria County History of Cumbria Project. Draft parish/township histories online copy