Whitton Tower


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When Dr Roger Watson was then appointed rector of Rothbury he remained in Durham, It was Bernard Gilpin who provide the pastoral care and making Peace among the Borders, he takes down the Glove in Rothbury Church, circa 1570, by William Bell Scott (Edinburgh 1811 - Penkill Castle 1890), signed and dated on side of pew in the centre: W B Scott, January to August 1859.


The scene shows Bernard Gilpin removing a glove from the wall, left hanging there as a challenge and symbol by families at feud. Fighting was common even inside the church where rivals would meet.


For his willingness to intervene and help bring peace to the area Bernard Gilpin became known as ‘The Apostle of the Borders’.


The man reading the lesson is a likeness of Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan.


The owner of the glove is Mr Charlton of Lee Hall said to be an outstanding swordsman.


The man in the helmet is William Bell Scott himself.



Bernard Gilpin

"The Apostle of the Borders"  

July 8th 2017

Brings together important events



Ethel Watson Children's Convalescence Home - The First Open Day

Bernard Gilpin's 500th year anniversary  (1517 ~ 2017)

All Saints Church, Rothbury Summer Fayre*



Whitton Tower - The historic home of the Rectors of Rothbury




Wallington © National Trust


The pulpit at Rothbury All Saints Church


is a fine piece of Victorian carving, given in 1901 in memory of Lady Armstrong depicting Bernard Gilpin, the 16th .


The screen, another piece of beautiful wood carving, was installed in 1901 in memory of Lord Armstrong. On the mouldings of the beam is a series of eighteen shields blazoned with the arms of landowners, benefactors, patrons, and communities connected with Rothbury Church and parish from the 12th century down to the time of installation.


The inner porch on the south door was erected in 1929 in memory of Dr Thomas Sharpe, Rector 1720 – 1758; another great benefactor of the Parish. One legacy of Dr. Sharpe is "Sharpe’s Folly" half a mile away at Whitton.


It is a 30ft high tower, reported to be built to provide local masons with employment, but also to be used as an observatory.

pictures and text supplied by coquetdaleanglican.org



The Historic Rectory of Rothbury: Whitton Tower cira 1414~1934




The Ethel Watson Children's Convalescence Home



In 1934 Cllr Angus Watson of Newcastle, who had already acquired the vicarage glebe lands as well as nearby Whitton Grange, to preserve what he called the "amenities of the district", purchased Whitton Tower. Within a year, he had leased it to Newcastle City Council for a children's convalescence home, a use it retained until 1983 after which it reverted to residential use.

 All Saints Church, Rothbury


This is an ancient place of worship – the Gospel has been preached here for probably 1,200 years. The Anglo-Saxons had a royal burgh here and the existence of the Anglian cross would indicate that there was a church here in those days.


It is surprising that any relics of old churches are found in the Coquet Valley. There were two periods of destruction of churches in England – the Reformation and Cromwell’s Commonwealth. In addition to that, in this area there were Viking and Norman invasions, followed for many years by the incursions of the Scots. The Coquet valley, serene as it may seem today, was one of the most violent parts of England.


The monastic church at Rothbury must have been destroyed either by the Vikings or even the Normans; however the eastern part seems to have survived  to  become  the  foundation  of  a new  building  at some time in the thirteenth century, part of  which can still be seen in the chancel, the chancel arch and the east walls of the transepts.


In the eighteenth century the church had galleries, dormer windows and a three-decker pulpit but these all disappeared in the restoration of 1850, undertaken by the Rector, Canon C. Vernon Harcourt. With a few additions and alterations this is the church we see today. This was a busy period of church building in the valley. Within two years, the churches at Rothbury, Alwinton and Holystone were either rebuilt, modified or restored.


Most of the stained glass in the Church is Victorian, the exceptions being two windows on the north wall in memory of local head teachers and those in the Memorial Chapel in the south transept.

This special event will be on the 8th July 2017 

(admission  from 12:30)


VIPs for the day are the children and nursing staff 


All comers most welcome to enjoy a day of tranquillity at a peaceful location.


The Rectory at Whitton Tower will be holding a summer fayre for All Saints Church,

in the grounds with special features which include:


Special Feature: Birds of Prey from the amazing Falconry Days Display Team


Cake Competition, Croquet Competition, Many Stalls, & Face Painting

Food - Lunches and Teas

Music by local musicians


Views of and Walks to: Sharp's Folly the oldest folly in Northumberland,

Pele Tower - first built in 1386 - and last renovated in 1839,

The  Rectory - Built by Canon Charles Vernon Harcourt in 1839.

Location is nestled between Lordenshaw ancient settlement, Simonside Hills,

and the River Coquet - 0.5 miles South of Rothbury in an area of outstanding beauty

(car parking by the river in Rothbury, limited disabled parking onsite available - please contact in advance)

*All admission and donations go to All Saints Rothbury, Christ Church Hepple and St. Andrew Thropton (RHT DCC )


The children who spent some time at the convalescence home, now adults, often return to see the house and grounds and share their stories. This is the very first open day for them to meet again with friends and staff.

What links all three is Whitton Tower:


Bernard Gilpin visited All Saints Church Rothbury on a number of occasions and on one occasion prevented a feud in the church.

The picture depicting the scene is of Bernard Gilpin in All Saints Church Rothbury, taking to task the familes in the feud, in particular the one who's glove it was, Mr Charlton. Could he be an ancestor of the current owner of The Rectory Whitton Tower?


Through these actions, Bernard Gilpin became known as the "Apostle of the Borders".


The Rectors of Rothbury lived here at Whitton Tower between 1414 to 1934, initially for their protection from troubled times.

Many had a lasting and important role in Rothbury and surrounding villages, such as:

1679-1720 Dr. John Thomlinson, rector of Rothbury (d.1720)

1720-1758 Dr. Thomas Sharp, rector of Rothbury and Archdeacon of Northumberland (b.1693 d.1758)

1822-1870 Canon Charles Vernon Harcourt, rector of Rothbury (b.1798 d.1870)


The current look of Whitton Tower is down to Canon Charles Vernon-Harcourt's design and renovations.


Due to the 500th year of Bernard Gilpin's birth, it was decided to hold the Summer Fayre here at Whitton Tower to commemorate the event.


This is a non-profit event and all proceeds are going to All Saints Rothbury, Christ Church Hepple and St. Andrews Thropton. The Churches that form the current responsibility of the Reverend Michael Boag, who is continuing the very good work in this special area.


After the last Rector of Rothbury who lived here until 1934, Whitton Tower was sold off to Angus Watson, who then gifted the property to The Newcastle Hospital Management Agency, on the condition it bore the name of his wife Ethel, making it the Ethel Watson Children's Convalescence Home. It became an important home for many who stayed here, some of whom have returned and have made entries in the visitors pages on this website.


This is the first Open Day and reunion for the Children and Staff who lived and worked here at Whitton Tower.



for more information on Bernard Gilpin <click here>





Photos by kind permission of Falconry Days

Event 2017 - A Beautiful Day!


On the day, blessed with sunshine, we had over 300 people come through the gates and 30 (plus their families) who stayed here as children or nurses.


We were able to give a tour of the property (our home) and many memories were shared. Indeed we had someone who stayed here in the 1940's so the changes were very interesting.


We hope that everyone enjoyed the day. We've been asked to do this again and hope we can do this next year. We will send out an update to those we have contact details for, and announce it here.


Please, Please! if you have any photos of the day or from when you stayed here please send them to us so we can share the moment!


We hope you all come back next year and we'll do a group photo.


It's with a special thank you to all who helped make this into a special day,   and finally the Falcon was returned to its owner.

Past Events:  2020 - 20192018 - 2017