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Clifton Hall

In the civil parish of Clifton.
In the historic county of Westmorland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Westmorland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY53072711
Latitude 54.63697° Longitude -2.72850°

Clifton Hall has been described as a certain Pele Tower.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Although most of Clifton Hall has been demolished, the late medieval tower wing survives well and is a good example of this class of monument. It was occupied continuously from the late 15th-early 16th centuries until the 19th century and still retains considerable medieval fabric and many original architectural features. Additionally limited archaeological excavation adjacent to the tower undertaken in the late 1970's has located artefacts and building remains associated with the structural development of Clifton Hall from the late 14th-early 15th centuries to the late 18th century, and further evidence of this nature will exist in areas beneath and adjacent to the tower.
The monument includes the upstanding late 15th-early 16th century tower wing of Clifton Hall together with adjoining buried remains of the hall which vary in date from the late 14th century to the late 18th century. Clifton Hall tower wing is constructed of red sandstone. It has external dimensions of 10m by 7.9m and is entered via the central of three doorways in its south face. The ground floor of the tower is divided into three rooms which latterly functioned as service rooms and a kitchen. Originally it was a single room with its west end partitioned off. The largest part of the ground floor would have been well furnished and decorated as befitted its status and function as a 15th century parlour. The present windows are 17th and 18th century and there are two fireplaces, one original, the other 18th century. Access to the upper floors is by a newel or circular stair situated in the south west corner of the tower. This gives access to the most important room in the tower, the principal chamber or solar, located on the first floor. Apart from an 18th century window the room has changed little. It has a fireplace in the north wall, an original window in the west wall, and a garderobe or latrine chamber in the thickness of the wall in the north west corner. Prior to the 17th century it was originally entered at first floor level from an external staircase on the south. Access to the uppermost chamber is by the newel staircase from the solar. In more recent centuries this chamber has been sub-divided and used as bedrooms, but it still retains original windows and a fireplace, only the east windows being 18th century insertions. The present roof was restored in 1979. It is a 17th century replacement of an earlier roof and was raised at the same time that the tower's crenellated parapets and south west corner turret were built. Limited archaeological excavations adjacent to the tower undertaken between 1977-79 have located buried structural foundations ranging from the late 14th century to the late 18th century. These included remains of the original late 14th-early 15th century hall to the north east of the tower; the late 14th-early 15th century west wing of the original hall, and two 18th century additions thought to have been a suite of bedrooms and a dairy or laundry to the north of the tower, an original well to the north west of the tower and an early 16th century timber-framed building replaced by a late 16th century stone hall to the south of the tower. This excavation, together with a structural survey of the tower, documentary evidence and antiquarian descriptions, have enabled a comprehensive history of Clifton Hall to be interpreted. The earliest building was probably undertaken by Elainor Engaine or her son William Wybergh during the late 14th-early 15th century and consisted of a hall with two cross wings. The tower replaced the west cross wing by the late 15th-early 16th century. Shortly after a timber- framed structure of two floors was added to the south face of the tower. This was demolished towards the end of the 16th or early in the 17th century and replaced by a larger stone built hall. During the 18th century further additions were made to the north of the tower. The hall was demolished in the early 19th century and replaced by the present farmhouse a short distance to the east. The tower remained in use as a farm building until renovation during the late 1970's. The tower and the surrounding environs enclosed by a wall and fence were placed in the guardianship of the Secretary of State in 1973. (Scheduling Report)

Clifton Hall (Plate 90), 150 yards N.W. of the church, consists now only of a three-storeyed tower; the rest of the house adjoined it on the S. but has been demolished. The walls are of rubble and the roof is slate-covered. The manor passed to the Wyberghs in the 14th century, and one of that family presumably built the existing tower late in the 15th or early in the 16th century. It seems probable that it formed the semi-fortified tower-wing of a house of the mediæval form common in the county and of which the hall block and S. cross-wing have been destroyed. The tower has an embattled parapet and an embattled turret at the S.W. angle in which the staircase is carried up to the roof. The S. wall shows the marks of the roof and side walls of the former hall-block and on the ground floor are three original doorways with chamfered jambs; one retains its four-centred head, but the other two have later heads. In the W. wall, the ground floor has a 16th-century window of four lights and on the floor above is an original window with a three-centred head and sunk spandrels; it has lost its mullions. In the N. wall is a blocked original doorway and there is another in the N.E. angle. The windows on the E. side are modern. Inside the building are some original chamfered and moulded ceiling-beams. Each floor has an original fireplace with a flat four-centred head, and the ground floor has an early 18th-century fireplace with a moulded surround in addition. The top floor has some original shaped roof-corbels.
Incorporated in the walls of the modern farmhouse is a stone carved with three blank shields and in the N. wall is a Roman slab (Plate 3) with carved figures and inscription. In the back wall of the Rectory garage is a re-set 15th-century window of two trefoiled lights with blank shields in the spandrels. It is said to have come from the Hall.
Condition—Fairly good, structurally, but disused. (RCHME 1936)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:30

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