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Brackenhill Tower

Brackenhill Tower was built in 1586 by the infamous Border Reiver Ritchie Graham. It is thought to have been built on the site of an earlier 13th Century tower. The building was extended in the 18th and 19th centuries. Brackenhill Tower is a Grade II* listed building and a unique example of a "Scottish Clan tower house" in England. Today the tower and associated Jacobean Cottage are available as holiday accommodation.

Brackenhill Tower is a peel tower, in the parish of Arthuret, in Cumbria, just north of the River Lyne. The site is about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Kirklinton and 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Longtown, or 10 miles (16 km) north of Carlisle and 8 miles (13 km) east of Gretna Green, and is a good defensive position, with ravines to the north and south. Extensions were added in the 18th and 19th centuries, but the original tower has had little alteration. It is the only remaining example of a Scottish tower house south of the border with England, and became a grade II* listed building in 1957.


The tower was built in 1584 by the border reiver Richie Graham (a stone on the tower gives the date as 1586). It replaced an earlier tower on the same site, which may have been built in the 13th century or possibly earlier.

It was constructed from large irregular blocks of red Cumbrian sandstone to a simple rectangular plan, with sides measuring by , and walls high and thick. There are two upper storeys above a vaulted basement, with a corner spiral staircase and originally a first-floor exterior door. The tower has a double gabled slate roof, with corbelled and battlemented parapet and stepped gables. There is little alteration to the exterior: for example, most of the narrow windows remain and were not enlarged as was typical when medieval buildings remained in use through the Georgian period.


In 1717, Richard Graham constructed a brick cottage to the south east of the tower, of three bays and two storeys. Around this time, a new west doorway added to basement of the tower, and first floor external door was blocked. The attic was renovated around this time, and two end chimneys added. The timber roof trusses were replaced either at this renovation or later in the 19th century.

The building was sold to the Stephenson family near the end of the 18th century (they later became the Standish family). In 1860 they added a new dining room and kitchen in a two-storey extension constructed from dressed red sandstone, with a canted bay window. They also added a stone link between the tower and the brick cottage, adding a battlemented porch to the tower, decorated with the Standish family coat of arms. The Standish family used the building as a hunting lodge, with the grounds landscaped to form a hunting estate.

Recent history

The Carlyle family held a lease of the building by the end of the Second World War. They bought the freehold when the Standish family sold in 1946. The surrounding land was used as a dairy farm.

The building remained in private hands into the 21st century, but fell into disrepair. It was one of three buildings included as candidates for restoration from the North West of England in the first BBC television programme Restoration in 2003, the other buildings being Bank Hall in Bretherton and the eventual winner, Victoria Baths in Manchester. It was included in the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register, but repairs were completed in 2010 and it is used as holiday accommodation.

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Brackenhill Grade II* Listed Historic Buildings and Monuments in Arthuret Civil Parish 1586
from https://www.brackenhilltower.…
Brackenhill Tower - Historic, Luxury Self Catering Accommodation
- "....Brackenhill Tower is unique as being the only Scottish peel tower (fortified house) standing now on English soil, situated in the heart of what was once “the debatable lands” now …

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Simon Cotterill
from Geograph (geograph)
Brackenhill Farm and Tower

Pinned by Simon Cotterill
- "House. Dated 1586 on stone in wall, for the Graham family, replacing earlier tower; extension dated and inscribed over entrance R.G. J.G. 1717, further extensions dated 1860 on rainwater head …

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Simon Cotterill
Longtown – Brackenhill Tower
- "Brackenhill Tower is a fortified Border tower house, that was built in 1584 for the Graham family. It replaced an earlier tower which may have dated to the 13th century …

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Simon Cotterill


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List number: 1087521
List grade: 2*
Wikipedia: Brackenhill Tower
Post code: CA6 5TU
County: Cumbria
Grid ref: NY4458169480


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