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BRACKENHILL TOWER

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Brackenhill Tower is a fortified Border tower house, its importance stemming from the fact that it is a unique example of a Scottish-style tower sitting on English soil. It was built in 1584, for the Graham family, replacing an earlier tower which may have dated to the 13th century or earlier. Constructed from large blocks of red sandstone rubble, the external elevations are virtually unaltered from its original state. The walls are five feet thick and rise to forty feet in height and there is a double gabled slated roof which is surrounded by a corbelled and battlemented parapet. In 1717, the fifth Richard Graham constructed a brick cottage to the south east of the tower. These are the earliest signs of the site being consolidated. There is no evidence of the sort of alterations which would have been expected such as the enlargement of windows, when what was essentially a medieval tower continued in use as a Georgian house. One alteration was the insertion of the present west doorway of the basement and possibly the superstructure of the tower at attic level as the two end chimneys look to be of this date. It remains uncertain whether the roof trusses are contemporary with the stacks or were later alterations in 1860. Towards the end of the 18th century the property was sold to the Stephenson family, (the family name later changed to Standish), who built a new dining room and kitchen. In 1860 the tower and the cottage seem to have adjoined corner-to-corner, with a physical internal link, and a porch was added at the front of the original tower. It appears that the tower and cottage were linked together to form a hunting lodge. The ground of Brackenhill contains a planned hunting landscape which was commissioned by the Standish family specifically for recreational hunting. By the end of World War II the Carlyle family were the tenants and in 1946, when the Standish Estate was put up for sale, the Carlyle's acquired the Brackenhill Estate.

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