Blog – Embleton Tower: Embleton Pele Tower: The Old Vicarage: Turris de Emyldon.

  • Embleton, Northumberland.
  • OSGB – NU 23053 22444.
  • Grade I Listed Building.


Pele Tower. Vicar’s Pele.

Embleton Tower is a three storey pele tower. It includes two vaulted rooms in its basement, some windows which have been blocked in, and an embattled parapet.


Embleton Tower.
Alexander P Kapp, CC BY-SA 2.0 <;, via Wikimedia Commons. Embleton Tower (cropped).jpg


The site is situated near Dunstanburgh Castle and legend states that there is an underground passage between Embleton Tower and the Castle.

It is believed that the tower may have been built on the site of an earlier structure but was reinforced following the Scots raid in 1385. See timeline for more details.

The following statement comes from An Architectural Survey of the Churches in the Archdeaconry of Lindisfarne, and gives a description as to the role some of the pele towers played in the Border battles,

‘I conceive that many of them were used during border forays, as retreats into which the females of the village were received and kept out of sight, the priest, meantime, keeping watch over them, parlaying with the enemy, pleading the respect of the Sanctuary, and arranging the peaceful  cession of the village cattle, or other property, by way of ransom of the people in the tower’. (Wilson 1870).

As with a large number of these sites, there is little recorded history relating to them. I have pieced together the following timeline from the material sourced.


Embleton Tower


Timeline for Embleton Tower.

1100-1135          The Manor of Embleton held by the Visconte family.

1244                 John le Visconte died and his daughter, Romet, inherited. She married Everard Teutonicus.

*                      Everard Teutonicus died and Ramet married Hereward de Marisco. The lands were passed through marriage.

*                      Hereward de Marisco sold the manor to Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester.

1265                 The Barony became Crown property after the death of Simon de Montfort.

c1265                Henry III granted the Barony to Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster.

1274                 Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster granted the Advowson of the church to Merton College, Oxford.

c1330                The Patronage of Embleton was held by Merton College, Oxford.

1331                 Merton College, Oxford, finally received the Advowson promised in 1274, due to disputes over the patronage of the church.

1384/5               Area ravaged by the Scots. The vicarage and church were ransacked.

1385                 Licence to crenelate granted. Although there is some doubt regarding this.

1395                 Tower built at a cost of £40 to protect the church from Scottish raids.

1415                 Property of the vicar. Recorded as being a fortified vicarage.

16th C                Remodeled.

C1600                Large windows inserted into the tower.

1828                 A new vicarage was built against the tower by architect John Dobson.

1875-1884          Mandell Creighton was the vicar.


Mandell Creighton


1876                 Mandell Creighton completed his book The Life of Simon de Montfort. His first son was born at the site.

1877                 Mandell Creighton was elected Chairman of the School Attendance Committee in Alnwick.

1877                 Mandell and his wife Louise visited Rome as a research trip for one of his books.

1878                 Mandell Creighton’s second son was born at the site.

1879                 Mandell and his wife Louise visited Rome again for research.

1880                 Creighton was elected Chairman of the Alnwick Board of Guardians and Sanitary Authority.

1881                 Mandell Creighton spoke at the Northern Poor Law Conference. He and his wife, Louisa, visited Rome for a third time for research purposes.

1882                 Mandell Creighton’s popular book The History of the Papacy in the Period of Reformation was first published.

1884                 Mandell Creighton moved to Cambridge University to become a Professor.

1898                 The tower was repaired and updated with little concern for its history.

19th C                A pupil of Mandell Creighton was staying at the tower.

1978                 The tower was restored and improved.

2018                 Planning permission was sought for alterations within the tower.


The tower is a stunning example of a pele tower. It is private property but can be viewed from the road.

More in-depth information can be sourced from the Historic England entry below in the References.


My final words on this site go to Louise Creighton (1904) ,

It was with no light heart that Creighton decided to give up his life at Embleton. We both felt that the ten years we had spent there must remain the happiest of our life…. Our children had had for their early years an ideal country home, which gave them every opportunity for a free and healthy life. The strange charm of Northumberland had won us all, and henceforth no other part of the world could hold our affections in the same way. (Creighton 1904).


Embleton Vicarage with pele.
T. L. Pitt, Gateshead – From Louise Creighton (1850-1936), Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton, D.D., Vol. I, published by Longmans, Green, & Co.


References & Bibliography

Bates. C. J. 1891. The Border Holds of Northumberland. Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle. Archaeologia Aeliana. Volume 14., Series 2. pp. 167-194.

Bates. C. J. 1895. The History of Northumberland. E. Stock.

Covert. J. 2010. A Victorian Marriage: Mandell and Louise Creighton. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Cristen. C. 2014. Murder & Mystery Trails of Northumberland & The Borders. Andrews UK Limited.

Creighton. L. 1904. Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton, sometime Bishop of London. Volume 1. Longmans.

Creighton. L. 1905. Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton, sometime Bishop of London. Volume 2. Longmans.

Davis. P. 2006. English Licences to Crenellate: 1199-1567. The Castle Studies Group Journal, Number 20., pp. 226–245. Available at

Godwin. G. (ed.).1863. Northumbrian Peles. The Builder. Volume 21., No. 1050. pp. 198-200.

Hartshorne. The Rev. C. H. 1858. Feudal and Military Antiquities of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. Bell & Dawdy.

Historic England. 2021. The Old Vicarage. Available at

Hodges. C. C. 1891. The Pele Towers of Northumberland. The Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist: A Quarterly Journal and Review Devoted to the Study of Early Pagan and Christian Antiquities of Great Britain. Volume 5, (New Series),  pp. 1-13.

Jennings. A. 2018. The Old Rectory: The Story of the English Parsonage. Sacristy Press.

Pettifer. A. 2002. English Castles: A Guide by Counties. Boydell Press.

Society of Antiquaries. 1885. The Second County Meeting of the Society of Antiquaries at Dunstanburgh. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Vol. 2., No. 10., (1885), pp. 71-73.

Wilson. F. R. 1870. An Architectural Survey of the Churches in the Archdeaconry of Lindisfarne. M. & M. W. Lambert.


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