Keys to the Past

Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish (Rokeby)

Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006
Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006

Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006
Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006

Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006
Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006

Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006
Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006

Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006
Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006

Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006
Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006

Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006
Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006

Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006
Mortham Tower, Rokeby parish © Ryder, P 2006

Mortham Tower, a medieval house attached to a pele tower is said to have been built about the time of Henry VII (1485-1509). Altered in the 18th century, it is one of the best-preserved and most picturesque medieval fortified manor houses in the North of England. In 1973 it was still known as Mortham Tower and in use as a private residence {ref. 1}.

After their victory at Bannockburn, In 1343 the Scots raided the area and seem to have destroyed the old seat of the Rokeby family, and the two villages of Rokeby and Mortham, on the opposite banks of the Greta. It was after this catastrophe that Ralph Rokeby, writing in his family history Oeconomia Rokebeiorum in the reign of Elizabeth I, states that the present Mortham Tower was built on the west bank. The Rokebys held Mortham until the Civil War, when it passed to the Robinsons although they Rokeby Park became their seat. Mortham became a tenanted farm, and escaped further alterations.

Whitaker, writing c.1820, described it as `a true Border mansion with all the peculiar features of that era and rank of domestic architecture; a through lobby, kitchens to the left hand with arched doors out of the lobby and butteries; a hall on the right hand up to the roof, and a handsome tower beyond the hall. At one end is a enclosure for the nightly protection of cattle from predators, strongly walled about with stone.

Internally, there are many complex features which includes the roof structure; this has collar-beam trusses, arched braces, as well as one thought to date from the medieval period.

The tower is of three storeys, built of sandstone, but inferior stone on the lower sections of the east and west walls. The two-light mullioned windows on the south and east walls have been restored, but are in older openings. The ceilings of the tower are plastered, so it is unknown if the medieval floor frames and roof survives.

During the C18th the hall became a ruin, it was completely restored in 1939 by the architects David Hodges and Kenneth Peacock, for Mrs Rhodes-Moorhouse.

Reference number:D1931
Historical period: Medieval (1066 to 1540)
Legal status:Registered Park or Garden of Historic Interest
  • National Heritage List for England Entry Number: 1000733

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See also:
Source of Reference
Local History of Rokeby


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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.