Morden Tower is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade 1 listed building

photograpgh of plaque on Morden Tower walls

It is one of the only five surviving D-shaped or Drum towers of the sixteen once distributed along the line of the medieval town wall enclosing the city of Newcastle. The tower and wall were built on ground sloping towards the south, which formed part of the precinct of the Dominican of Black Friary

A Drum tower is half a round flanking tower with thick walls and a plinth built into the wall terence wise. Excavations at the base of the Tower in 1987 showed that it had been built before the adjoining wall which was completed by 1280. Originally the tower would have been similar in form to the nearby Heber and Durham Towers.

Tower lane

In 1619 the tower was granted by the corporation of Newcastle to the Company of Goldsmiths, Plumbers, Pewters and Glaziers. The building was altered and rebuilt, as it was not marked for defence art at this time, to include another story.

The tower may have suffered damage during the siege of Newcastle in 1644. The 1700 reconstruction gave the Tower its present jettied brick upper facade and a roof (a form of which was still in existence as recently as 1971). Perhaps the moulded plasterwork details were added at the same time.

The ground floor at the time was occupied by the caretaker of the Meeting House.

"that Thomas Walton be Beadle thereof and that he shall live in the room under the Meeting House and warn the said company at all times when required and have the usual salary for doing so" Recorded in Company Minute Book

It may have been at this time that the eastern loophole was cut back and the side chamber blocked and some of the walls roughly cut back to enlarge the living space

The Plumbers maintained the Tower for another 300 years. Latterly it was used by Northumbrian Pipers, then as a rehearsal space by a Newcastle Jazz group.

Information by Archaeologist: John Nolan

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"I did the first reading, and also worked there with Ginsberg, Bunting and Creeley, which I'm very proud to have done, as well as many readings with Tom Pickard and other talented natives. The thing I remember most about it was the piano. The old piano was found dying in the tower. When the audiences got bigger the piano went outside on the wall. It then began falling apart, aided by mischievous hands. Eventually it was distributed along walls and in the street, like mad sculptures behind those pongy factories that used to vibrate through the readings"
Pete Brown