Preston Tower
Tower Preston Northumberland

Preston Tower

Tower In Preston, Northumberland

Probably the finest pele tower in Northumberland with magnificent views and beautiful gardens.

Everyone knows that I love a good pele tower, but I don't think I have ever seen a more picturesque one than Preston Tower. Sitting just 8 miles south of Bamburgh, it's well worth a pop in if you are nearby.

The tower itself sits in a beautiful little garden, and as it's hidden by trees, the first time you catch a glimpse of it is as you enter the garden. No roadside spoilers for this one.

This two floor tower, now adorned with a clock is resplendent in history as it is in looks. I know you are gagging to know about the history, but hold your horses while we fawn over the tower a bit more.

The famous architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner once described Preston Tower as “amongst the most spectacular pieces of medieval masonry in England”. He ain't wrong!

The tower has been furnished as it would have been at the start of the 15th century starting with a guard room and prison on the ground floor. The first floor shows what a bedroom and living room would have been like.

The second floor contains the Flodden Room (everything around the borders seems to be related somehow to the Battle Of Flodden and Preston Tower has its connections too) and also houses the clock mechanism.

Climbing ever further will take you onto the roof with glorious views everywhere you look.

As with most buildings up near the borders they are fortified due to the odd skirmishes that tended to happen back in the day with the Scots. There was no scrimping on Preston Tower though as not only are the stone blocks 7 foot thick, they used the same masons as those who built Warkworth Castle.

Ok, onto the history!

Preston Tower was constructed sometime between 1392 and 1399 by Sir Robert Harbottle (have a google of him as he was a bit of a scoundrel), when warfare between England and Scotland was endemic. At the time there was also a bit of a brawl going on betwixt England and France (England seem to be a bit of a troublemaker) which ended up lasting a hundred years!

During this time (more specifically during the battle of Agincourt) there were around 78 pele towers in Northumberland.

Then in September 1513, Sir Guiscard Harbottle (owner of the tower at that time) rode out with his men to the Battle Of Flodden. He actually fought King James IV in hand to hand combat, but was ultimately killed.

King John died later on in the day, ending the battle and bringing James V and then Mary, Queen of Scots to the Scottish throne.

After the Union of Scotland and England in 1603, Mary's son James VI was placed on the English throne (under the name James I) and for the first time England and Scotland shared the same monarch. Therefore peace finally came to the borders and the fortified buildings were no longer needed.

Half the tower was pulled down at this time and the stone used for farm buildings on the estate. The present tower is what remains of the original structure.

Then a few hundred years later an outstanding striking clock was installed in the centre of the tower, with faces on both the front and rear walls. The flat-bed mechanism of the clock is similar to that used for Big Ben and is what you can see when exploring the second floor.

The clock strikes on the hour on a bell weighing 500kg, which is housed in one of the turrets.

Once you are done in the tower there are a number of short walks around the gardens following different trails. There is information on these on the bottom floor of the tower at the entrance.

The tower is unmanned, but an honesty box is in place, so please make sure you put your donation in to help the upkeep of this magnificent tower (£2 at the time of writing this article).

The tower was owned by Gilfrid John (Gilly) Baker Creswell who sadly died on 14th April 2021.

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How To Find Preston Tower

Where Is Preston Tower?

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Lat / Long

55.522302, -1.710548

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Where To Park For Preston Tower?

The tower has it's own dedicated car park right next to the tower.

Contributed by Simon Hawkins

Thanks for checking out this place on the Fabulous North! I do enjoy a wander out in to the countryside trying to find hidden gems that not many people know about. You can't beat a rogue Pele tower up a remote hill or a mysterious stone circle or a stunning waterfall secluded in a forest.

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Simon Hawkins

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