Keys to the Past

Prior Castell's Tower, Inner Farne (North Sunderland and Seahouses)

Prior Castell's Tower on Inner Farne. Photo by Peter Ryder.
Prior Castell's Tower on Inner Farne. Photo by Peter Ryder.

It is not known exactly when Prior Castell's tower was built but most sources think it was in about 1500, although some parts of the building seem to be earlier. It is named after Thomas Castell, Prior of Durham (1494-1519), who is generally attributed with building it. The tower originally stood four storeys high, but is now only three storeys, and is built of stone. Inside there is a tunnel vault on the ground floor said to contain the remains of a well. Upstairs, on the first floor, is a garderobe, or latrine, and the original single room has been divided up by an 18th century panelled wooden screen. To reach the upper floors a staircase is built into the thickness of the wall and eventually ends in a spiral staircase onto the roof. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the mid 16th century, the tower was used as a fort. Later, in the 17th century, Charles II authorised its use as a lighthouse and a beacon was built on top of the tower. In 1848 the tower was restored by the Venerable Charles Thorp, Archdeacon of Durham (1831-62), and he made new windows and altered the interior. The tower came into the ownership of the National Trust in the 1920s. This is a Scheduled Monument and Grade I Listed Building protected by law.

Reference number:N5889
Historical period: Post Medieval (1540 to 1901)
Medieval (1066 to 1540)
Legal status:Listed Building
Scheduled Ancient Monument
Event(s):BUILDING SURVEY, Historic building survey and assessment of the monastic cell on Inner Farne 1999
FIELD SURVEY, National Trust survey: the Farne Islands 2010; Archaeo-Environment Ltd

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See also:
Source of Reference
Local History of North Sunderland and Seahouses

Disclaimer -

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.