WHAT A VIEW: The splendour of Mortham Tower, at Rokeby
WHAT A VIEW: The splendour of Mortham Tower, at Rokeby

A HISTORIC landmark Teesdale property has gone on the market for only the seventh time in 700 years.

The grade I-listed Mortham Tower, at Rokeby, is known as one of the most picturesque medieval fortified manor houses in the region and was described by Victorian writer Sir Walter Scott as “eminently beautiful”.

Parts of Mortham Tower, which is set in a riverside location with about 70 acres, date to the 14th century. Built on the site of an earlier house, which was burned down by invading Scots, Mortham is defined by its four-storey Pele tower, believed to be the most southerly one still in existence. Built on and added to over the centuries, the fortified manor house is constructed around a central courtyard with crenelated walls entered by an arched gateway in the middle of the property. It has wings, a great hall, great chamber, wine cellar and an alleged ghost known locally as Mortham Dobie.

The coat of arms of Sir Thomas Rokeby is still visible, carved in stone, in the courtyard. Rokeby was the first owner to build additions to the tower around the time of Henry VII.

When extravagant Palladian architect Sir Thomas Robinson inherited the property he preferred to construct a more modern home nearby, Rokeby Park, than reside in the medieval dwelling.

His lavish spending left him in dire straits and he was forced to sell the entire estate to clear his debts.

One of the most interesting features of the property, aside from the tower itself, is an artificial cave, which was constructed especially for the use of Sir Walter Scott.

Scott was a close friend of the then owner John Bacon Sawry Morritt and visited on numerous occasions. It is said he wrote the poem, Rokeby, in the cave and also dedicated the first edition to this friend.

In the last century Mortham Tower has undergone conservation and renovation work.

In the early part of the 20th century the property was uninhabited and falling into disrepair. However, it has been brought back to life.

The most recent renovation works were carried out in the past ten years and included the updating of bathroom facilities and heating systems, as well as the addition of a tennis court and courtyard greenhouse.

Mortham Tower has been listed for sale with Barnard Castle-based estate agents GSC Grays. The price is on application. It has been reported that the last time it went on the market, the property was bought for £3.2million.