Ludworth Tower
Tower Durham County Durham

Ludworth Tower

Tower In Durham, County Durham

Remains of a romantic looking pele tower on a hill with scenic views.

Ludworth Tower sits on a scenic hill just outside the main village of Ludworth to the East of Durham City and was a pele tower.

It has a romantic air about it especially as these wonderful photographs by Ian Maggiore show

In 1422 Roger Hoden had permission (yes, an early form of planning permission!) to fortify his Manor House and build a pele tower. The need was due to Scottish skirmishes which were not uncommon.

Typically pele towers were built where there was not a castle in an elevated position or where the surrounding countryside could be viewed as they were also used as a watch tower.

This is where the Laird and the chosen few would barricade themselves in until the marauders went.

Most pele towers are square or rectangular and usually 3 floors high. The walls here are made of layers of ochre-coloured limestone and some Magnesian Limestone. When you study the stone masonry you should be impressed by the way it is assembled with bespoke stonework.

The pieces are not uniform and are interlocked with mortar to produce a strong thick wall. Arches around the window and vaulted basement would have been built with a technique called Centering, where a wooden frame called a centring would support the weight of the stonework during construction. It was then removed on completion.

Sandstone quoins (corner pieces) make it a significant building. From the remains which are still there is the west wall, you can make out a fireplace, and spiral stairs which I think are in the north west corner?

In 1455 an act of parliament decreed that at the top of the pele there was to be an iron basket for a fire or smoke, acting as a beacon. This was required night and day to alert others of danger.

There are 2 Corbels remaining that indicate the flooring for the upper floor. The windows are still intact with their arched tops.

The west wall surprised me as it stands very vertical when you look from the north side.

Some of the vaulted basement still survives and would have been for storage.

Being in an elevated position there are some pleasant views too, especially through one of the windows. Westwards is the city of Durham.

This hilltop is made from Magnesian limestone that so much of the county lies on. In fact, 90% of the country's is here, in the north east.

As the site has been allowed to go back to nature we are told in the spring and summer it is awash with lime-loving meadow flowers. However, on the autumn day that I visited it was covered with long grass and nettles and is quite uneven as there is much stone debris underfoot. I was careful and prepared though to be the intrepid explorer!

The Durham Council information sign gives a brief history. The opening times amused me as the site is open access at all times!

In 1785 it was noted by the famous W Hutchinson (1732 to 1814) in one of his illustrated History Books of Durham that it was just a ruin. It was reported that 1890 the south and east walls had collapsed, and what remains still stands today.

Be warned the site is so overgrown you do not know what you are walking on and the road can be busy with no pavement.

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How To Find Ludworth Tower

Where Is Ludworth Tower?

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54.765214, -1.448536

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Where To Park For Ludworth Tower?

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54.764217, 54.764217

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Best to park nearer the village and walk down Margaret Street in a westerly direction away from the village. The tower will be a short way along on your right pass Ludworth Tower Farm.

Contributed by Rosalind Parker

Thanks for reading through and getting to the end of this post. I enjoy exploring the Fabulous North (Especially as a Southerner residing up North). I like 'snippets' of information, and more so, if they are obscure, amusing or meaningful. The photographs are taken on a mobile phone, without any enhancements.

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Ludworth Tower was listed in Tower // County Durham // Durham