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Seghill, Northumberland

55.062112, -1.557699

1415

Pele Tower

Demolished, vaults now filled in

Site occupied by Seghill Comrades Club and housing

Last Updated:

4 Sep 2020

Seghill Tower

Founded in 

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Current status is

'The little known tower at Seghill is first mentioned in the list of fortalices of 1415 and probably dates from that period. Only the vaulted basement remains and this is now used as a cellar to the Blake Arms Hotel.
Its dimensions indicate that it was one of the largest in the county, and it is said to have been of three storeys and to have had a tower at one corner. About 1673 it was considerably altered (Craster 1909).

In 1673 Robert Mitford built a mansion house, incorporating with it, the old tower ... in 1827 they were taken down except for the tower vaulting which is possibly 13th century. The remains of this tower consist of a barrel vaulted cellar 15.2m long x 6m wide used as a beer cellar for the Blake Arms Hotel. The internal architectural features consist of several ribs springing from present ground level. The walls 1.2m thick are formed of sandstone blocks much renovated and the exterior is covered with plaster and concrete. Remains of squareheaded window in west wall; no other architectural features seen.

The Blake Arms Hotel was demolished in the late 1960s and new housing built on the site. It is reputed that the vaulted cellars were simply filled in before modern housing was built on the site.

The little known tower of Seghill, which is first mentioned in the list of fortalices of 14 15, probably dates from about this period. Only the vaulted basement remains, and this is now used as a cellar to the Blake Arms hotel. Its dimensions indicate that the tower was one of the largest in the county and of a size equal to Thirlwall castle. Strong walls, four feet in thickness and built on the rock, inclose an area of forty-four feet six inches by sixteen feet six inches. This is spanned by a barrel vault, of which the circular ribs spring from the ground level, the interstices being composed of single flat stones. The basement is entered on the south side by a doorway with checked and chamfered jambs. Suggestions of windows, loops, and recesses appear in the thickness of the walls, but there is no evidence of mural or other staircases.
The tower is said to have been of three stories, and to have had a lofty exploratory turret at one corner. No medieval features remain in the upper floors. It appears that in or about 1673 considerable additions and alterations were made to the tower, and that at that time the centre of the vaulting in the basement was removed to give access to the chambers above. A chimney stack with weatherings, which projects from the west wall, and a doorway on the first floor level, immediately above the entrance to the basement, are of this period. The upper door was formerly approached by a flight of external steps.'

- gatehouse-gazetteer.info

The maps above illustrate the site of Seghill Tower through the latter half of the 19th century. The first map further above, published in 1865 shows the site of the tower in gothic scripture. The tower is surrounded by gardens and a courtyard along the main road through Seghill. Seghill was a small settlement at this point, but was enclosed by lots of industry such as Seghill Colliery, Coke Ovens and a brick field.

The second map, published in 1897, exhibits little change and the site is still labelled on the map.

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Photograph of the vaults of the Pele Tower before they were filled in. At this point they were used as storage by the Blake Arms Hotel, but various historic features can be seen including an old archway, which was said to be a tunnel all the way to Burradon Pele Tower.

Retrieved from Billy Embleton on Flickr

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Photograph of the Blake Arms Hotel in 1937. The vaults seen above were the basement for this public house, which occupied the site of the tower until the 60s when it was demolished. Housing and the Seghill Comrades Club now utilise the site.

Retrieved from Billy Embleton on Flickr

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