Blog – Kirkandrews Tower.

  • Kirkandrews-on-Esk, Cumbria.
  • OSGB – NY 38914 71928
  • Grade II Listed Building.


Tower House/Pele Tower.

Situated in an area of the Borders known as the Disputed Land, also referred to in the past as No Man’s Land. The area was constantly shifting between English and Scottish hands, with the monarchy on either side giving the lands to different people. A definite border was set down in 1552.


Kirkandrews Tower.


The tower is rectangular and measures 10m by 7m It stands three storeys high with walls measuring 1.5m thick. It has a vaulted basement, an internal spiral staircase leading to the upper floors and an embattled parapet.


As can be seen from the timeline below there are some cross-overs of ownership. This is due to the monarchs on either side of the border granting the lands to different families. Also, different sources give different names for the same time period, as in 1272-1300 – the tenant in chief was either Sir John Wake or Baldwin de Wake. It has been a real struggle setting down a timeline that makes some sort of sense, but I think I have done so. Any incorrections are mine and I apologize in advance if there are any.



Timeline for Kirkandrews Tower.


1124-1153          Between: The lands were granted by Ralph de Meschines to Turgot de Rossedale.

1153-1165          Between: The church was granted to the monks of Jedburgh.

1199-1216          Between: Held by Nicholas de Stutville.

1249-1286          Sir John Wake held the Barony under Alexander III of Scotland.

1272-1300          Between: The lands were held as Tenant in Chief by Sir John Wake/Baldwin de Wake.

1298                 The young Thomas Wake was under the Wardship of Piers Gaveston and following his death then went to the household of Queen Isabella, the daughter of the Duke of Lancaster.

1300                 Sir John Wake died, and Edward I granted the lands to Simon de Lindsey to be held in wordship for the minor heir of Sir John Wake.

1306                 Robert I of Scotland granted the lands to William de Soulis.

1310                 The wardship of the lands were passed to John de Seagrave.

1318                 The lands were granted to John de Soules.

1318                 John de Soulis died and Robert I of Scotland granted the lands to Archibald Douglas.

1329-1371          During: David II of Scotland granted the Barony of Kirkandrews to William, Lord Douglas.

1332                 England recognized Wake’s claim to his lands and the Barony of Kirkandrews and the Lordship of Liddesdale.

1341                 Edward III penned a Writ of Protection which showed the land belonged to England.

1349                 Thomas Wake, son-in-law of Henry of Lancaster, died and his sister inherited his lands. She was married to Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of Kent but died a few weeks later, and the lands should have passed to their son, John, Earl of Kent. However, the lands were never restored to the Wake family.

1352                 John, Earl of Kent died. Edward IIIgranted the lands to Sir William Douglas.

1364                 Sir Archibald Douglas was Lord warden of the West March.

1431                 The Barony of Kirkandrews was held by William, son of William, the Black Douglas.

1449                 The area was considered, and called, the Debatable Land.

1504                 The lands were claimed as being a part of Scotland.

1527                 Tower set alight by the Armstrong’s, enemies of the Grahams.

1530-1550          New tower built by Thomas Graham.

1549                 Still referred to as the Debatable Land.

1552                 A permanent border was drawn up on the Debatable Land, placing Kirkandrews on the English side in Cumberland. The Scotch Dyke marking the extent of the Scottish lands. The tower is depicted on a map of this date.

1553                 Lord Wharton, Warden of the West March, stated “The land layt called the Debatable Land, and now the King’s majesties’ inheritance, well planted with men and fortresses”. (Veitch 1893).

16th C                Built on the site of an earlier tower by the Graham family.

1623                 Richard Graham served under George Villers, Duke of Buckingham. He accompanied James I to Spain.

1625-1649          Archie Armstrong, Jester to Charles I, is buried in the churchyard.

1631                 Charles I authorized Sir Richard Graham to rebuild the church which had been destroyed.

1637                 The new church was completed.

1653                 Richard Graham died and his grandson Sir Richard Graham of Esk inherited.

1681                 Sir Richard Graham of Esk was created Viscount Preston by Charles II.

1745                 William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland – also known as Butcher Cumberland – slaughtered many Jacobite’s who tried to cross the nearby bridge.

1761                 The Tower was noted as an ancient border house (Torrens 1863).

18th C                Alterations including the blocking of the original entrance to the tower.

1860                 Lands held by Sir James R. G. Graham.

19th C                External staircase added.

20th C                Alterations including a new first floor added and new windows.



Although small in size, this site has had a very colourful past and is associated with many high profile people in both England and Scotland. Hopefully more of its history can be discovered in the future as I believe it still holds onto many of its past events.



References & Bibliography.


Anderson. W. 1877. The Scottish Nation: The Surnames, Families, Literature, Honours, and Biographical History of the People of Scotland. Volume 3. A. Fullarton & Company.


Armstrong. J. 2020. England’s Northern Frontier: Conflict and Local Society in the Fifteenth-Century Scottish Marches. Cambridge University Press.


Armstrong. R. B. 1883. The History of Liddesdale, Eskdale, Ewesdale, Wauchopedale and the Debateable Land. D. Douglas.


Bruce. M. E. C. 1870. Family Records of the Bruces and the Cumyns

With an Historical Introduction and Appendix, from Authentic Public and Private Documents. William Blackwood & Sons.


Cameron. S., & Ross. A. 1999. The Treaty of Edinburgh and the Disinherited (1328–1332). History, 84(274), 237-256. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from


Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society. 1877. Kirkandrews. Publications of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society: Extra Series. pp. 18-21.


Duncan. A. 1988. Honi soit qui mal y pense: David II and Edward III, 1346-52. The Scottish Historical Review, 67(184), 113-141. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from


Ferguson. R. S. 1890. A History of Cumberland. E. Stock


Fordyce. W. 1857. The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham. A. Fullarton and Company.


Gray. H. 1914. The Commutation of Villein Services in England before the Black Death. The English Historical Review, 29(116), 625-656. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from


Harwick Archaeological Society. 1882. November Meeting: Local Names of Tivotdale. Transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society. pp. 39-48.


Historic England. 2021. Kirkandrews Tower. Available at


Lewis. S. 1835. A Topographical Dictionary of England. Volume 2. S. Lewis & Co.


Lysons. D. 1816. Magna Britannia: Cumberland. T. Cadell and W. Davies.


MacKenzie. W. 1951. The Debateable Land. The Scottish Historical Review, 30(110), 109-125. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from


Mason & Barnes. 1866. Carlisle and District. Mason & Barnes.


McCarthy. M. 2017. Carlisle: A Frontier and Border City. Taylor & Francis.


McDowell. W. 1873. History of the Burgh of Dumfries: With Notices of Nithsdale, Annandale, and the Western Border. Adam and Charles Black.


Morrison. W. 1855. Border Sketches, Ancient and Modern. William Morrison.


Neilson. G. 1899. Annals of The Solway—Until A.D. 1307. Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society, 3(2), new series, 245-308. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from


Notices of Periodical and Occasional Publications, Mainly of 1951. 1952. The English Historical Review, 67(264), 465-480. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from


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


Robb. G. 2018. The Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England. Pan Macmillan UK.


Spring. D. 1955. A Great Agricultural Estate: Netherby under Sir James Graham, 1820-1845. Agricultural History, 29(2), 73-81. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from


Taylor. M. W. 1876. On Some of the Manorial Halls of Westmorland. T. Wilson.


Taylor. M. W. 1892. The Old Manorial Halls of Westmorland & Cumberland. T. Wilson.


Torrens. W. T. M. 1863. The Life and Times of J. R .G. Graham, Bart

Volume 1. Saunders, Otley & Co.


Turner. T. H., & Parker. J. H. 1859. Some Account of Domestic Architecture in England: From Richard II to Henry VIII. Messer’s Parker.


Turville-Petre. T. 1988. Politics and Poetry in the Early Fourteenth Century: The Case of Robert Manning’s Chronicle. The Review of English Studies, 39(153), 1-28. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from


Veitch. J. 1893. The History and Poetry of the Scottish Border: Their Main Features and Relations. Volume 2. William Blackwood & Sons.


Whellan. W. 1860. The History and Topography of the Counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland. W. Whellan and Company.





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