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Hepple Tower

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Heppelle; Heppedale; Hephell

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NT98660065
Latitude 55.30000° Longitude -2.02266°

Hepple Tower has been described as a certain Pele Tower.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

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


Despite partial collapse, Hepple Tower retains a range of architectural features which provide a clear insight into its original form and the manner in which it was used.
The monument includes the remains of a tower house of fourteenth century date situated at the eastern end of the small village of Hepple. The rectangular tower constructed of square sandstone blocks measures 12m east to west by 11m north-south. The basement is barrel vaulted, the eastern end having collapsed along with the south-east corner of the building. The remains of a stair leading through the thickness of the wall to an upper storey can be seen in the southern wall of the basement. The original doorway, with a drawbar tunnel, and the foundations of an entrance lobby have recently been revealed beneath rubble in the south-east corner of the tower. There is a splayed window at the west end, now enlarged into an entrance, and above this at first floor level are the remains of a window. Traces of wall cupboards on the external north wall testify to the fact that this tower is the remains of a once larger building. The first mention of Hepple Tower is in 1415 when it was described as the home of Sir Robert Ogle who later removed his court to Great Tosson. (Scheduling Report)

Tower. C14. Squared stone. Ruined. South wall stands to c.40 ft. Lower part of stair projection to right was originally in centre of south wall but east side has now collapsed. Left return (west side) also stands to c.40 ft. Doorway on ground floor was originally a window. Lintel of window on 1st floor has stump of mullion and holes for iron bars. Rear (north) side stands to c.40 ft; the east side of it has collapsed. East wall collapsed. Interior: Walls c.8ft thick. Most of tunnel vault remains. Corbels below vault formerly supported a loft. Round-headed, broadly-splayed, rere arch of west window; above the inside of the window a chamfered string course. (Listed Building Report)

Listed in the 1415 Survey as 'Turris de Heppell'. Described in the 1541 Survey as the tower belonging to Lord Ogle, decayed in the roofs and scarcely in good repair (Bates 1891).
In 1853 it was described as being in the last stage of decay, though 50 years before the exterior walls of a strong and stately tower were still standing tolerably entire. Hepple Castle was probably the manor house of the proprietors of Hepple, as it is said the court leet of Hepple lordship was held here in former times, until the castle, being ruined by the Scots, was totally abandoned by the lord, who removed his court to Great Tosson (Gentlemen's Magazine 1853).
At the present day Hepple Tower, the only surviving part of what was once a more extensive mansion is a plain tower, measuring internally 26 feet east to west, and 17 feet north to south, with walls 6 feet thick at ground level. The ground floor is covered by a slightly pointed unribbed barrel vault, 17 feet high, under which there was an entresol floor supported by stone corbels. The entrance was by a door in the south side, opening into a small lobby with a mural stair rising westwards. There appear to have been at least two upper stories above the vault (Dodds 1940).
Remains of a Pele tower stand at the eastern end of the village of Hepple, upon level ground.
The structure measures overall, 10.0 m north to south, by approx 12.0 m east to west. The south-east corner of the building has at some time collapsed taking with it the eastern end of the barrel-vaulted roof of the basement. The outer facing stones of the remains of the east wall have also disappeared. In the south wall has stood a stair turret, the south-west corner of which remains, jutting out 0.6 m from the face. Some of the facing stones of the circular stairway remain in the thickness of the wall at this point. There are no traces now of the original entrance and lobby within. The site is marked by a pile of fallen and overgrown masonry.
The walls at 2.2 m thick, narrowing to 1.8 m above the basement. They stand to approx 11.0 m at the west end, and are constructed of well-shaped facing blocks of sandstone decreasing in size upwards, and filled with a core of cemented rubble. There are no quoins. A small splayed window in the basement at the west end has been enlarged into an entrance in recent times. Above it at the first floor level are remains of a larger window. The basement is at present in use as a hay store (F1 ASP 06-FEB-57).
Now in a worse state of disrepair (F2 DS 24-APR-70).
The tower house was attacked by Scottish raiders in 1406, 1416 and 1436. In 1520 it was found to be so badly damaged that the local baron moved his court to Great Tosson, and billetted 20 troops on the local population because the tower was ruinous (Dodds 1999). (PastScape)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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