Cockle Park Tower
Tower In Morpeth, Northumberland
A three-storied tower-house built as a hunting lodge then later extended and used as a farmhouse and students' hostel.
If you're drawn in by the power of a tower read on for a bit of Pele-appeal! Ambling down the road from Hebron near Morpeth we came across a huge sandstone block in the skyline that beckoned for some investigation.
Towering behind the modern glass reception of Newcastle University's Cockle Park Farm, stands the imposing Cockle Park Tower, a three-tiered 15th century tower house, 1 mile southwest of the wonderfully named Tritlington, Northumberland.
The land has been used by the university since 1896 and agricultural students used the des res as their accommodation up until the 1970's, but prior to squabbling over who's cups were left in the sink, the tower saw some bloodier battles than that!
The tower is an L shape, built around 1520 for Sir William, 4th Lord Ogle. Tree ring analysis on samples of the roof timbers suggest that the trees were felled in AD 1602! A solid structure by all accounts! By 1648 troops were housed here during the civil war and two years later it was listed as being used as a farmhouse, but by the early 1700's it was dilapidated and disused being recorded as 'an old pile belonging to ye Dutches of Newcastle'.
The art and architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner's short insert on Cockle Park Tower introduced us to lots of new terms which helped us to understand the building and its angles with more precision “The North corners have corbelled-out bartizans, with machicolation between.” I liked the rounded, tiered cornery bits, and was fascinated to learn that the little spaces below (the machicolations) were used for soldiers to fire arrows from! Now you don't get that on a Bellway home!
The building underwent its first restoration during the late 17th, early 18th century at which time, marauders took advantage of easy access and robbed stone and decorative features like the fireplace and some of its windows to build and furnish nearby Bothal Castle, which was later owned by the Duke of Portland.
The Duke was a prominent supporter of agricultural reform and gained a reputation as an 'agricultural improver'. In the 1820's the farm at Cockle Park, and thus the tower, became the property of The Duke, with the farm becoming known as Blubberymires, one of the first experimental farms with the ground floor being used as a diary.
In 1902 the farm was taken over by the County Council but retained its status as an experimental farm and later was passed into the ownership of Newcastle University. At the beginning of the 2000's the tower underwent major repair work and was developed into The Centre for Renewable Energy From Land (CREEL), not veering too far from the Duke's Blubberymires, less than 200 years earlier!
The tower was removed from the Heritage at Risk Register in 2012 and appears to be open via Historic England for various short periods between March to October.
How To Find Cockle Park Tower
Where To Park For Cockle Park Tower?
If you visiting as part of the Heritage Days then there is a dedicated car park. If you are passing and just want to stick your head in, then you can ditch your car on the grassy verge just outside.
Contributed by Jos Forester-Melville
Highland loving human. Thalassophile. I love a good smile. Happiest heading for the hills with my pickup filled with kids and dogs! Working four days, we enjoy a Fridate, and usually spend it scouting out new scenery. I love a gated track, a bit of off roading and if it involves a full ford, well, that gets extra points! I go nowhere without a flask and binoculars, and love the small things in life that make it big…Goldcrests, dry stone walls, Deadman’s fingers, blackberries and quality clouds.More Places from Jos
More Places In Morpeth
Find more fabulous places in Morpeth, Northumberland and if you know of a place we haven't listed, then let us know.
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