Morden Tower


Fosse (defensive ditch)Mordon Tower

Morden Tower is a turret on the west section of the Town Walls in Newcastle dating from 1280. Eneas Mackenzie, wrote in 1827: "Mordon Tower is the hall of the Glaziers, Plumbers, Pewterers, and Painters, who repaired it in 1700. A gilded ball, suspended from the centre of this meetingroom, probably had been shot from the cannon of the Scottish army during the great siege of the town in 1644, and, having lodged in the wall, was discovered on the alteration of the tower. The outside of the adjoining wall bears marks of this memorable siege. The inside was, in late years, much injured and disfigured by people picking out the freestone to bruise into sand; but it is now put into a good state of repair.Mordon Tower (rear) Between Mordon and Herber Tower there has been anciently a postern in the wall, belonging to the monastry of the Black Friars."

Today Morden Tower is a renowned literary landmark. In 1964 Connie Pickard took out the lease for tower and since then hundreds of poets from all over the world have come to give readings in the turret-room. The first Morden Tower reading was made by poet and song writer Pete Brown on 16th June 1964.

The Morden Tower in Back Stowell Street on the West Walls of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade 1 listed building. For the last 45 years (since June 1964) Connie Pickard has been custodian of Morden Tower, and has made it a key fixture of Newcastle's alternative cultural life. Countless memorable music and poetry events have happened at Morden Tower in that time, which Connie has run largely single-handedly and often out of her own pocket.

History

The Tower was built about 1290. It is one of five Drum towers that remain of the sixteen that were built on the line of the medieval town wall enclosing the city of Newcastle. The tower and wall were built on ground sloping towards the south, which formed part of the precinct of the Dominican of Black Friary. From the 16th century it had housed the Company of Plumbers, Plasterers and Glaziers.

Poetry centre

The Morden Tower has been a major centre for poetry readings in the North East since 1964 when Tom Pickard and Connie Pickard took out the lease.

It has developed a national and international reputation for attracting some of the most outstanding UK and American literary figures working during this period. It has been particularly noted for its association with many Beat and Black Mountain poets.

Tom and Connie Pickard were instrumental in bringing about the Newcastle’s Poetry Revival. During this time they amassed a collection of books and pamphlets not obtainable in bookshops at the time. Using the Morden Tower as a venue for poetry readings and a book room they ensured Tower audiences were kept in touch with writing from Edinburgh, Paris, San-Francisco, Greenwich Village, Liverpool and Ladbroke Grove.

During the 60s and 70s the Tower was an inspiration and catalyst for other counter culture ventures, in particular an out post for Alexander Trocchi project among other things.

Basil Bunting gave the first reading of Briggflatts in the Morden Tower, on 22 December 1965. More than any of the host of celebrated poets to have read there, Bunting perhaps embodies the fusion of international modernism with local oral tradition for which Morden Tower readings are noted: the intimate, simple space of the Tower's upper room has been recognised by poets and audience alike as an ideal location for voiced poetry.

‘Morden Tower – simply the most congenial place in the world in which to perform poetry’ Bob Cobbing

Poets who have read there include, Basil Bunting, Allen Ginsberg, Ted Hughes, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Seamus Heaney, Tom Raworth, Carol Ann Duffy, Fleur Adcock, Liz Lochhead and many others.

Despite a lack of funding Morden Tower is still a popular venue for poets and experimental musicians, such as John Hegley and A Hawk and a Hacksaw.

Significant literary events

  • Pete Brown gave the first reading on 16 June 1964: Bloomsday
  • Basil Bunting gave his first public reading of Briggflatts in 1965
  • Allen Ginsberg gave his first European reading of Kaddish
  • Ed Dorn gave his first European Reading of Gunslinger

Publications

  • King Ida's Watch Chain - 1965: A collection of Poems by Basil Bunting. A new format magazine designed by Richard Hamilton
  • The Spoils – Basil Bunting 1965: Cover design and photographs by Richard Hamilton, distributed by Migrant Press
  • High on the Wall: a Morden Tower Anthology, published by Morden Tower in association with Bloodaxe Books to commemorate the tower's first 25 years in 1990. Edited by Gordon Brown.

Music at Morden Tower

Morden Tower also has a history of providing a platform for new and experimental music. Musicians who have played at the Tower include Alan Hull of Lindisfarne, Grayson Capps, Les Cox Sportifs, Paul Smith of Maxïmo Park, Richard Dawson, Teitur, John Power, Chris Corsano, Mecca Normal, Sir Richard Bishop, Jack Rose, Cath & Phil Tyler, Burning Star Core, Prurient, Jakob Olausson, Jozef Van Wissem, C Joynes, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Jazzfinger, Peter Walker, Alasdair Roberts, James Ferraro, Monopoly Child Star Searchers, Calvin Johnson A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Tonstartssbandht, Silver Fox, Rachel Lancaster, Viv Albertine, Stuart Moxham, Wrest, Funeral Dance Party, Morgellons, Big Fail and Matt "Black Pudding" Bovingdon on knife and fork. The European and many others.

A Better Noise, Subterranean, Jumpin' Hot Club, NO-FI & A Glimpse Of Paradise have all promoted semi regular gigs at Morden Tower over the last ten years.

Whitehouse performed here in 1983, supported by Ramleh and The New Blockaders. Whitehouse's set has become notorious for an incident in which the entire audience walked out, after William Bennett had slapped a female audience member in the face.

Text from Wikipedia, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (accessed: 09/12/2016).
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Morden Tower

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003786:Morden Tower, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1920?

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Morden Tower, Newcastle Town Wall
- "Like the other towers on this westerly section of the wall, it is semi-circular in plan, with a rectangular ground floor, with 3 loops (slit windows). In 1619-20 the tower ...

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West Walls
- "Looking past the Morden Tower towards the Chinese Arch, Stowell Street." Photo by Mike Quinn, 2013, and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

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012313:Turret, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1783

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Newcastle Town Wall - Morden Tower
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The moat in front of West Walls
- "The entrance to Chinatown can be seen in the distance (left)." Photo by Mike Quinn, 2008, and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

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West Walls north of Morden Tower
- "The granite mill stones in the foreground are left as reminders of the Gallowgate Lead Works which operated in this location for over 150 years. It was established in the ...

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Morden Tower, Back Stowell Street
- "The entrance to the upper room of Morden Tower is via a door and stairway from the narrow lane behind the Chinese Restaurants of Stowell Street . The lower room was ...

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Pat Thomson
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West Walls, near Stowell Street
- Photo by Andrew Curtis, 2010, and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

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Newcastle Town Wall
- "This is an extensive stretch of the surviving wall looking south towards the Morden Tower and Herber Tower." Photo by Anthony Foster, 2009, and licensed for reuse under a Creative ...

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from http://www.mordentower.org/
Mordon Tower - the life of poetry
- "...In 1964 Connie Pickard took out the lease for the Morden Tower and with Tom Pickard organised the first poetry readings. In 2004 the tower celebrated its 40th anniversary, read ...

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Image taken from page 25 of 'The Jubilee handbook of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and places of interest in the North of England, etc'

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TOWN WALL, WITH MORDEN, HEBER AND EVER TOWERS
- "Town Wall, with Morden, Heber and Ever Towers. (Formerly listed as City Wall) GV I Town wall and towers. Late C13. Large sandstone blocks; Morden tower partly brick with ashlar ...

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from http://www.twsitelines.info...
Tyne and Wear HER(1537): Newcastle town wall, Morden Tower
- "Semi-circular in plan, with a rectangular ground floor, the room lit by 3 loops (as at Heber and Durham Towers). Probably built before the curtain. It displays the other usual ...

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Siege of Newcastle, 1644
- 3rd February1644: start of the Siege of Newcastle, which lasted until 19th October 1644, when the Scottish Covenanters took the city.
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Newcastle Town Walls
- Overview About the Town Walls The defensive Town Wall at Newcastle was built in the 13th and 14th centuries at a time when the North of England was under frequent ...
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Blackfriars Friary

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