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Crawley Tower

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Crawelawe; Krawlawe

In the civil parish of Hedgeley.
In the historic county of Northumberland.
Modern Authority of Northumberland.
1974 county of Northumberland.
Medieval County of Northumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NU06891652
Latitude 55.44243° Longitude -1.89259°

Crawley Tower has been described as a certain Fortified Manor House, and also as a certain Tower House, and also as a probable Pele Tower.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.

Description

Remains of towerhouse or tower solar. Early C14, with C18 cottage built inside when the ruins were altered to form an eyecatcher on the Shawdon Estate.
Massive squared stone; cottage rubble with Welsh slate roof. Rectangular plan, 15.2 x 11.2 metres externally; wall toothings indicate former structure to the north-east. L-plan cottage built against interior of south and west walls.
South elevation shows renewed door in C18 opening with small casement window in modified loop to left. 1st-floor casement in blocked doorway opening of uncertain date, and 2 original windows at higher levels, each of 2 chamfered lancet lights, mullions now missing. Irregular stepped C18 parapet. West elevation shows remains of another early 2-light window above 2 later windows; C18 embattled parapet.
North elevation shows 2-storey pent-roofed cottage inside tower, with various casement and sash windows; above cottage roof, in south wall, is a segmental rear arch, with window seats, of upper 2-light window. Remaining parts of tower east and north walls have C18 crowstepped coping. Cottage has pent single-storey part on exterior of north tower wall, with adjacent outbuilding.
Interior of cottage not seen; tower walls 2.6 metres thick, except on north where there was probably a mural stair. Licence to crenellate was granted in 1343, but the architectural features probably pre-date this. Substantial earth works to the north suggest that the tower formed part of a strongly-fortified complex. (Listed Building Report)

Historic Building Report of Crawley Tower prepared by RCHME (York) in August 1992.
The tower was originally rectangular and least four storeys high of coursed sandstone. The ground floor was not barrel vaulted. Each floor probably comprised a single chamber and the first floor may originally have been heated. The tower may have formed part of a larger manorial complex and may have functioned as a solar tower to a hall range in the enclosure to the north (NU 01 NE 19). The tower was reported as ruinous in 1541. By the 18th century the north-east angle of the tower had been demolished and a two- storey L-shaped cottage built inside the shell of the tower. In the 19th century single storey extensions were built on the north side, and cottages onto the east side of the tower (RCHME).
The tower has apparently consisted of a rectangular structure 15.2m by 10.4m externally, with walls of large coursed and squared sandstone 2m-2.5m in thickness. Smaller squared stone, with rough tooling of 18th century character, is seen towards the wall heads and in the lower part of the south east corner. The north east corner has been destroyed and an L-shaped two-storeyed house has been built within the ruin, its roof pent against the internal faces of the tower walls. The tower has originally been of four storeys; the surviving pieces of walling at third level, standing above the level of the house roof, have been squared off to produce a stepped parapet, whilst the surviving sections of the north and east walls have been given a crow-stepped coping following the line of the pitched roof of the house. At the time of survey, the interior of the house was completely stripped out, wall plaster and floors having been removed revealing a considerable number of structural features not mentioned in RCHME. At ground floor level, the internal splay of the window on the west is old and the doorway on the south occupies the position of an old window (the head of which remains). Between this and a post-medieval fireplace further east is the jamb of another early opening. On the north are remains of a mural chamber or chambers, its inner wall cut away and replaced by 20th century brickwork. This chamber has a flat slab roof and remains of two transverse features, an arch (with a single chamfer on each face) near the west end and a doorway, rebated to the east, further east. Entry to the chamber may have been by a doorway at the west end of the wall, where there are hints of an internal projection. At first floor level windows on the south and west are remodellings of older openings. There is a blocked single-light window in the north wall (its external sill and lower jambs visible from inside a lean-to addition) and a mural chamber at the south west corner, until recently hidden by an internal flue. The internal face of the west wall had been cut back internally; conversely, the original internal face of the north wall (cut away on the ground floor) remained. At second floor level (ie attic level within the house) there is another mural chamber (not inspected in detail) at the west end of the south wall. There is a window on the south of two lancet-headed lights, with a segmental rear arch. On the west there are the remains of the lower part of a similar window, partly destroyed by refacing of the wall; there are also traces of a small opening in the north wall. All that remains at third floor level is a portion of the south wall, retaining another two-light window of the same type as that below; this has a chamfered segmental rear arch and a stone window seat on each jamb. The walls of the house are of more than one date. That on the north part of the building is considerably thicker than that of the south and is of large squared stone. Although clearly later than the north wall of the tower, it may be earlier than the 18th century date ½ascribed by RCHME It seems possible that the tower served as a tower solar to an adjacent hall block, possibly adjoining the east wall (fragments of projecting masonry at the north end of the surviving section of this wall and a refaced area at the south east angle, may indicate the positions of the hall walls) (Ryder 1994-5)
The tower occupies a prominent position in the landscape and is now surrounded by later buildings. The field on the other side of the road contains a substantial earthwork possibly associated with the tower. the tower has consisted of a rectangular structure with walls of large coursed and squared sandstone, 2 to 2.5m thick. Smaller squared stone with rough tooling of 18th century character is seen towards the wall heads, and in the lower part of the south east corner. The north east corner has been destroyed, and an L-shaped two storeyed house has been built within the ruin, its roof pent against internal faces of the tower walls. The tower has originally been of four storeys; the surviving pieces of walling at third floor level, standing above the level the house roof have been squared off to produce a stepped parapet, whilst the surviving sections of north and east walls have been given a crow stepped coping following the line of the pitched roof of the house. The RCHME report was written when the interior was masked by plaster work. Since then additional features have been revealed. At ground floor level, the internal splay of the window on the west is old, and the doorway on the south occupies the position of an old window (the head of which remains); between this and a post medieval fireplace further east is the remains of a mural chamber or chambers, its inner wall cut away and replaced by 20th century brickwork. This chamber has a flat slab roof, aand remains of two transverse features, an arch near the west end, and a doorway rebated to the east. Entrance to the chamber may have been by a doorway at the west end of the wall, where there are hints of an internal projection. At first floor level, windows on the south and west are remodellings of older openings; there is a blocked single light window in the north wall, and a mural chamber at the south west corner, until recently hidden by an internal flue. The internal face of the west wall had been cut back internally; coversely, the original internal face of the north wall remained. At second floor level (ie attic level within the house) there is another mural chamber at the west end of the south wall. There is a window on the south of two lancet headed lights, with a segmental rear arch; on the west there are the remains of the lower part of a similar window, partly destroyed by the refacing of the wall; there are also traces of a small opening in the north wall. All that remains of the third floor level is a portion of the south wall, retaining another two light window of the same type as that below with a stone window seat on each jamb. The walls of the house are of more than one date. That of the northern part of the building is considerably thicker than that of the south, and is of large squared stone. Although clearly later than the north part of the tower, it may be earlier than the 18th century date ascribed by th RCHME. It seems possible that the tower served as a tower solar to an adjacent hall block, possibly adjoining the east wall. The RCHME report gives a summary of the history of the Edlingham family, it passed to the Herons in the early 14th century, and licence to crenellate was granted in 1343. It was sold by the Herons to John Procter of Shawdon in 1663. The present parapets of the tower are probably of mid18th century in date, and show similarities to other landscape features (eg the folly at Shawdon). The RCHME survey was carried out before the internal plaster work was removed. This means that much of the important evidence was missed. It is recommended that detailed recording take place of the interior before the interior is reconstructed. Only a detailed level of recording will make full interpretation possible. This could be conditional on the listed building consent and in such circumstances it is the developer's responsibility to provide the necessary resources. Alternatively, the recording could be carried out by a local history group providing that they had the expertise to carry out the work to a sufficiently high standard. Finally, the RCHME may be willing to return to the site to update their record, however their resources are limited and they may not be able to return to a site already examined. The recent fittings of eaves facias/soffits in association with roof repairs is unnecessary and inappropriate. Internally there is evidence of crude ribbon pointing in a hard cement mortar. The building is currently not weather proof and it is important that it be madde sound before deterioration becomes worse. If the structure is not to be converted into a modern dwelling, it may be possible to conserve the building as a ruin (Newcastle City Archaeology 1994). (Northumberland HER)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1343 Nov 20 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Comments

Although this may have been a solar tower attached to hall it is considerably larger than the three storey stack of single chambers usual for such a tower and this may best be described as a tower house. Certainly in terms of its defensive capabilities, surrounded as it is by substantial earthworks, this was a house heading well into 'castle' form.
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This record last updated 25/05/2017 08:11:10

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