Brizlee Tower

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Brizlee Tower
Brizlee Tower - Alnwick - Northumberland - UK - 2006-03-04.jpg
Brizlee Tower in 2006, before its renovation
General information
StatusGrade 1 listed
TypeFolly tower
Architectural styleGothic Revival
LocationHulne Park, Alnwick, Northumberland, England
Coordinates55°25′35″N 1°45′07″W / 55.42636°N 1.75186°W / 55.42636; -1.75186Coordinates: 55°25′35″N 1°45′07″W / 55.42636°N 1.75186°W / 55.42636; -1.75186
Completed1781 (1781)
ClientHugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland
Height26 metres (85 ft)
Technical details
Floor count6
Design and construction
ArchitectRobert Adam or John Adam
Illustration of Brizlee Tower from
A Descriptive and Historical View of Alnwick, 1822

Brizlee Tower (sometimes Brislee Tower) is a Grade 1 listed folly set atop a hill in Hulne Park, the walled home park of the Duke of Northumberland in Alnwick, Northumberland. The tower was erected in 1781 for Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland, and commands extensive views over North Northumberland and the Borders.

The tower[edit]

Brizlee Tower is a 26-metre-high elaborately ornamental tower in dressed stone set at the edge of the northern escarpment of Brizlee Hill, overlooking Hulne Park, the "home park" of Alnwick Castle. The hill's relative elevation (about 177 metres above sea-level, in comparison with the valley floor's 44 metres)[1] makes the tower's site a natural vantage point with all-encompassing views to the west, north and east – including the vale of Whittingham, through which the River Aln flows; the sites of numerous country seats past and present, such as at Eslington, Bolton, Callaly, Shawdon, Broomepark, and Lemington; Hulne Priory within the park walls; The Cheviot, 20 miles distant and the Teviotdale hills and Flodden a further 20 miles away; the Northumberland coast including the Farne Islands and Coquet Island, and the castles at Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh and Warkworth.[2] Southerly views are blocked by Alnwick Moor, which rises higher than the tower.

The tower has six stages, the lowest of which has an encircling verandah, and the topmost surrounded by a projecting viewing platform or balcony, and surmounted by a cast-iron fire basket. Brizlee Hill, prior to the tower's erection, is reputed to have been the site of a fire-beacon used to warn of the approach of enemies.[3] The tower is circular in plan, and has four slight rectangular projecting buttresses. An interior newel staircase is lit through windows.[4]

The tower is in an elaborate Gothic revival style,[4] the design being variously attributed to Robert Adam[5] or his brother John[4][6] (who were also employed on other works for the Duke including a remodelling of the interiors of Northumberland House and Syon House in London) and to the Duke himself.[4][6]

The tower was commissioned in about 1777 to commemorate Lady Elizabeth Seymour, who died in 1776, by her husband Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland, after the third creation of that title by virtue of the marriage.[5] It was completed in about 1781.[7] It functions as a viewing platform for the Duke's park,[4] landscaped during the Hugh Percy period by "Capability" Brown.[8]

Above the balcony, under the Duke's crest, an inscription notes: Circumspice! Ego omnia ista sum dimensus; Mei sunt ordines, Mea descriptio Multae Etiam istarum arborum Mea manu sunt satae, which is translated: "Look around! I have measured out all these things; they are my orders, it is my planning; many of these trees have even been planted by my hand".[7]

The tower was given a Grade 1 listing[6] in December 1969,[4] but by the end of the 20th century had been placed on the Buildings at Risk Register owing to extensive water damage and corroded ironwork, and was closed to the public. It was extensively renovated in the first decade of the 21st century and reopened.[5]


  1. ^ "Ordnance Survey Map". Bing Maps. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  2. ^ A Descriptive and Historical View of Alnwick. W. Davison. 1822. pp. 287–289.
  3. ^ Winscom, Jane Anne (1861). Dear old England: a description of our fatherland. London: Seeley, Jackson and Halliday. pp. 16–17.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Brizlee Tower, Denwick". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "Brizlee Tower". Robin Kent Architecture & Conservation website. Robin Kent Architecture & Conservation. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  6. ^ a b c "Brizlee Tower (Denwick)". Keys to the Past website. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council. Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Brizlee Tower". Structural Images of the North East (SINE) Project. University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Archived from the original on 19 March 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Capability Brown Landscape". Alnwick Castle website. Northumberland Estates. Archived from the original on 25 September 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2011.

See also[edit]