Saturday, 19 July 2014

(130) Anderson of Newcastle and Little Harle Tower

Anderson of Littleharle
Some of the leading merchants of Newcastle in the late 16th and early 17th century bore the name Anderson, but the relationships between different branches of the family are obscure and appear to have defeated antiquarian and genealogical authors over the last two centuries. One branch of the family provided the town with MPs at fairly frequent intervals over a century or so: Henry Anderson (d. 1559) being succeeded by Bertram Anderson (c.1505-71), Henry Anderson (1545-1605) and Sir Henry Anderson (1582/3-1658/9). The second leading branch can be traced from Francis Anderson (fl. 1581-1612), through Roger Anderson of Jesmond, to Sir Francis Anderson (1614-79), kt., who was MP for Newcastle after the Restoration.  There appears not to be a simple connection between the two branches, and in neither does the forename Robert appear: yet it was a Robert Anderson who built Greyfriars House in Newcastle out of the monastic ruins in 1580 and the property undoubtedly descended to Sir Francis Anderson (d. 1679), who sold it in 1675 to Sir William Blackett.  If any reader knows more, and can untangle these relationships, I should be very pleased to hear from them, and to expand this account.

In 1782 Greyfriars House was sold to a self-made bricklayer and builder called George Anderson (d. 1798), who may have claimed or assumed some relationship with the earlier prominent citizens of that name. He appears to have divided the house into three dwellings and to have shared it with other members of his family. After he died in 1798 the house passed to his son, Maj. George Anderson (1760-1831), who retired from the army shortly afterwards, married, and altered the house in 1801. By 1821 he apparently aspired to something more modern, and employed the leading Newcastle architect, John Dobson, to build him a Gothic house on the coast of Co. Durham at Hawthorn.  When he died in 1831, his real estate was left to his first cousin once removed, Thomas Anderson (d. 1872), who had apparently been brought up in another part of Anderson Place. Hawthorn Cottage was included, but subject to a life interest held by George's widow.

Within a few years, Thomas Anderson had sold all his inherited property. Anderson Place was sold in 1833 or 1834 to Richard Grainger and provided much of the land for the latter's ambitious rebuilding of Newcastle as a classical city. Hawthorn Cottage was sold in 1836 to his kinsman, Richard Pemberton, subject to Lucy Anderson's life interest, which she continued to enjoy until the mid 1850s, when she retired to York.  Anderson Place is said to have brought Thomas a capital of £50,000, a vast sum for the time, and he invested this in the purchase of the Littleharle Tower estate in Northumberland and, a few years later, the adjoining Kirkharle estate.  These properties have remained with his descendants to the present day. Thomas made Littleharle the principal seat of the estate and demolished most of Kirkharle Hall* leaving only one wing, which became a farmhouse.  By way of compensation to posterity for this vandalism, he designed and built major extensions to Littleharle Tower, which were carried out in 1860-61.
* An account of Kirkharle Hall is reserved for a future post on the Loraine family.

When Thomas died in 1872 the Littleharle estate passed to his son, George Anderson (1843-1927), who was trained as a barrister but did not practice. He in turn was succeeded by his son, Maj. George Denis Anderson (1885-1971), who was also trained as a barrister and became Chairman of the Northumberland bench, 1955-60. His only child was a daughter, Elizabeth Mary Anderson (b. 1927), who married Capt. Philip Claud Palmer (1918-77) and produced three sons and two daughters. The eldest son, John Philip Palmer, changed his name to Anderson in 1973 and is the present owner of the conjoined Littleharle and Kirkharle estates. 

Kirkharle Hall: Capability Brown's landscaping plan from the 1730s.

Kirkharle was the boyhood home of the 18th century landscape gardener, Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, and was the estate on which he was first employed as a gardener.  In 1980, Mr. Anderson chanced upon an unexecuted design by Brown for creating a lake at Kirkharle amongst the family papers, and with the support of Northumberland Council he realised Brown's design in 2010-11.

Greyfriars House (later Anderson Place), Newcastle-on-Tyne

Anderson Place, Newcastle, as engraved by Knyff in 1733. Image: Government Art Collection.

In 1580 Robert Anderson, a wealthy Newcastle merchant, built a fine house out of the offices, and nearly on the site of, the former Greyfriars building. It is shown on Speed’s map of the town in 1610 as the “Newe House”, and occupied a 13-acre site within the city wall. Gray in his Chorographia describes it as a “princely house built out of the ruins of the friars”. Three years earlier in 1646 King Charles I had been kept prisoner there by the Scots. Later engravings show a two-storey house with five gables, on a shallow E-plan. There were square bays under the end gables and a two-storey porch, all topped with balustrades.

Detail of an uncoloured copy of the Kynff engraving, showing the three-storey wings added to the original house.
Image: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

In 1675 Sir Francis Anderson sold New Place to Sir William Blackett of Matfen who added two large wings of brick, with sash windows, one of the earliest astylar Classical buildings in the north-east. The mansion later came into the possession of Sir Walter Blackett, of another branch of the family. He was one of the most important merchants in Newcastle during the 18th century and died in 1777. In 1736 the house was described as “surrounded with a vast quantity of ground: that part of it which faces the street is thrown in walks and grass-plots, beautified with images, and beset with trees, which afford a very pleasing shade; the other part of the ground on the west side of it is all a garden, exceedingly neat and curious, adorned with many and the most beautiful statues, and several other curiosities”.

Greyfriars House from an aquatint of 1790. Image: British Library, XXXII.

Sir Walter’s successor, Sir Thomas Blackett offered the house and grounds to the Newcastle corporation, who declined because they lacked the necessary finance. But in 1782 it was purchased by George Anderson, a wealthy Newcastle builder whose family had no connection with the original builder. He was the son of a tailor at Benwell and was apprenticed to a bricklayer in 1715. By thrift and hard work he had amassed a fortune, but the house was too large for him, so he converted it into three dwellings. In 1801 his son, Major Anderson, came to live in the house. He changed the name from New Place to Anderson Place, and replaced the wooden gates which had prevented passers-by seeing the house with wrought iron ones; other changes included removing the main staircase, which was intended to be re-erected at Brinkburn Priory (Northbld) but remained stored there in sections until rediscovered in 2001. In 1827 the house was said to contain a number of curious and well-painted ceilings. In 1834 it was sold to Richard Grainger for £50,000 and it was demolished the following year as a key part of his plan to rebuild the city. The Andersons moved to Little Harle Tower, taking one fireplace with them from the old house.

Descent: Robert Anderson...Sir Francis Anderson (d. 1679), kt., who sold 1675 to Sir William Blackett (1657-1705), 1st bt.; to son, Sir William Blackett (1690-1728), 2nd bt.; to cousin, Sir Walter Calverley (later Blackett) (1707-77), 2nd bt.; to kinsman, Sir Thomas Blackett, who sold 1782 to George Anderson; to son, Thomas Anderson (d. 1821); to son, Thomas Anderson (d. 1872), who sold 1834 to Richard Grainger.

Hawthorn Towers (formerly Hawthorn Hive Cottage), Co. Durham

Hawthorn Towers, from an old postcard.

Hawthorn Dene is a narrow ravine running down to the sea between Easington and Seaham, and belonged in the 18th century to the Milbanke family of Seaham and Halnaby (Yorks). At the mouth of the Dene, Admiral Milbanke (d. 1805) built a summer house called Sailor's Hall in 1787, which was ruinous by 1816. Maj. George Anderson acquired the site and in 1821 built a substantial Gothic mansion to the designs of John Dobson of Newcastle.  The new house was originally called Hawthorn Hive Cottage and later Hawthorn Dene House or Hawthorn Tower. It was a convincing composition of towers, gables, Gothic windows, and an oriel, and was originally rendered, although the render was later removed.  After Anderson's widow died in the 1850s the house was sold to the Pembertons, who enlarged it. The house was mainly let after 1910 and sold in 1949. It then changed hands several times fairly quickly and slid into dereliction, helped on by the attention of vandals. It was demolished in 1969 after a man was killed when part of the house collapsed.

Hawthorn Towers in the early 20th century.

The estate also included a simple castellated folly tower, Kilney Hill Tower, which was inhabited in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It later became ruinous and partially collapsed, but has recently been restored as holiday accommodation.

Descent: built 1821 for Maj. George Anderson (c.1760-1831); to widow, Lucy Anne Anderson (d. 1865) for live with remainder to Thomas Anderson (d. 1872), who sold it subject to the life interest to Richard Pemberton (1782-1843); to son, Richard Lawrence Pemberton (1831-1901); to son, John Stapylton Grey Pemberton (d. 1940); to son, Richard Laurence Stapylton Pemberton (d. 1963), who sold 1949.

Little Harle Tower, Northumberland

The garden front of Little Harle Tower from an old postcard, showing the Victorian range which has been partly demolished.

The development of the house is best appreciated on the garden side. The earliest part of the house is the three storey medieval tower at the left hand end, which has a vaulted ground floor room that would originally have been entered by the blocked arched door. Adjoining this tower to the right is a five bay two-storey range which now looks early 18th century, but which is at least partly medieval and contains a stone newel stair. The sash windows in this part of the house still have their thick early 18th century glazing bars. To the right of this again is the part of the house designed and built by Thomas Anderson for himself in 1861-62, but which again has earlier origins: it contains a mid 18th century staircase and one rather splendid room with a plaster ceiling of c.1745 in the style of the Italian plasterers who worked at Wallington nearby. Externally, however, this wing is Victorian in appearance, and has a large two-storey canted bay window with cinquefoil windows on the first floor and panels of blank tracery above. The entrance front is entirely of 1861-62, including the large Gothic porte-cochere, and was truncated in about 1980 when part of the Victorian additions was taken down.

Anderson family of Anderson Place and Little Harle Tower

Anderson, George (d. 1798). Reputedly the son of a tailor from Benwell, born about 1705, and apprenticed to a bricklayer in 1715, although these dates seem improbably early; he became a prominent and wealthy Newcastle builder.  He married and had issue including:
(1) Major George Anderson (1760-1831) (q.v.).

In 1782 he purchased Greyfriars House alias New Place alias The Nuns and divided it into three dwellings, which may have been occupied by relatives.
He died about August 1798; his will (in which he described himself as an architect) was proved at Durham, 8 September 1798.

Anderson, Maj. George (1760-1831) of Anderson Place. Son of George Anderson (fl. 1782), baptised 20 November 1760 at St John, Newcastle. Served in the 34th Infantry Regiment (Major, 1797; retired, 1800); JP and DL for Northumberland. Visited Iceland in 1807. He married, 15 June 1801, Lucy Anne, daughter of Stephen Croft of Stillington Hall (Yorks), but had no issue.
He inherited Greyfriars House from his father, renamed it Anderson Place, and made alterations to it in 1801. In 1821 he built Hawthorn Hive Cottage (later Hawthorn Towers) in Co. Durham. At his death Anderson Place passed to his first cousin once removed, Thomas Anderson (d. 1872) and Hawthorn Cottage to his widow, who sold it before her death.
He was buried at St. Nicholas, Newcastle, 10 September 1831; his will was proved at Durham, 19 September 1831 (estate value £5,000) and in PCC, 3 November 1831, and by it he left bequests for building spires at the churches of St Andrew and St John, Newcastle and money for a large bell at St. Nicholas. His widow died in York, 27 November 1865; her will was proved 28 December 1865 (estate under £5,000).

Anderson, Thomas (c.1808-72) of Littleharle Tower. Son of Thomas Anderson (d. 1821), apparently of Anderson Place, who was the first cousin of Maj. George Anderson, and his wife Ann Bell, born c.1810.  JP and DL for Northumberland; High Sheriff of Northumberland, 1843. He married, 20 April 1841, Emily (d. 1877), daughter of Rev. John Fisher of Wavendon (Bucks) and had issue:
(1) Emily Anderson (1842-58), baptised Apr-June 1842;
(2) George Anderson (1843-1927) (q.v.);
(3) Mary Anderson (c.1844-1916), baptised 14 March 1846; died unmarried, 5 May 1916;
(4) Eleanor Anderson (c.1846-1925), baptised 14 March 1846; lived in London; died unmarried, 1 October 1925; will proved 7 December 1925 (estate £8,530)
(5) John Anderson (c.1847-1930), baptised 13 January 1848; lived in London; died unmarried and without issue, 19 April 1930; administration of goods granted 11 June 1930 (estate £571);
(6) Mabel Anderson (1849-1915), born Apr-June 1849; lived in London; died unmarried, 19 May 1915; will proved 21 June 1915 (estate £1,268).
He inherited Anderson Place from his kinsman, Maj. George Anderson, in 1831, but sold it in 1834 to Richard Grainger for redevelopment. To replace it he purchased Littleharle Tower and Kirkharle Hall in 1836. He enlarged Littleharle Tower in 1860-61 and demolished most of Kirkharle Hall.
He died 28 October 1872; his will was proved 16 January 1873 (estate under £50,000). His widow died 20 December 1877; her will was proved 14 February 1878 (estate under £4,000).

Anderson, George (1843-1927) of Littleharle Tower. Elder son of Thomas Anderson (c.1810-72) and his wife Emily, daughter of Rev. John Fisher of Wavendon (Bucks), born 16 August 1843. Educated at Eton; Christchurch, Oxford (matriculated 1863; BA 1868; MA 1869); and Inner Temple (called to the bar, 1872); barrister-at-law; JP and DL for Northumberland; High Sheriff of Northumberland, 1886. He married, 2 February 1885, Alice Mildred (1858-1927), daughter of Cadogan Hodgson Cadogan of Brinkburn Priory (Northbld) and had issue:
(1) Maj. George Denis Anderson (1885-1971) (q.v.);
(2) Katherine Florence Anderson (1887-1975), born 31 January 1887; lived at Orchard Farm, Maybole (Ayrshire); died Jul-Sept 1975;
(3) Lt-Col. Francis Anderson (1888-1925), born 15 March 1888; served in WW1 with the Black Watch (mentioned in despatches; awarded DSO, MC and Order of the Crown of Italy); married, 15 April 1916, Vera Maud, only daughter of Frederick Vere Allfrey and had issue one son and one daughter; died 17 May 1925;
(4) Capt. John Frederick Anderson (1889-1915), born 7 May 1889; served in WW1 with 2nd Battn, Highland Light Infantry and died unmarried on active service in France, 14 July 1915;
(5) Mary Eleanor Anderson (b. 1890; fl. 1969), born Jul-Sept 1890; lived at Orchard Farm, Maybole (Ayrshire);
(6) Maj. Philip Anderson (1893-1968), born 19 July 1893; served in WW1 with Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders; married, 18 June 1928, Margaret Elsie, daughter of Somerset Edward Molyneux Butler of Bishops Lydeard (Somerset) and had issue one son; died as a result of a motor accident, 4 February 1968.
He inherited Littleharle Tower and Kirkharle Hall from his father in 1872.
He died 21 May 1927; his will was proved 25 July 1927 (estate £142,857). His widow died 11 December 1927; her will was proved 16 February 1928 (estate £1,210).

Anderson, Maj. George Denis (1885-1971) of Littleharle Tower. Eldest son of George Anderson (1843-1927) of Littleharle Tower and his wife Alice Mildred, daughter of Cadogan Hodgson Cadogan of Brinkburn Priory, born 15 November 1885. Educated at Eton; Christchurch, Oxford (BA 1908; MA 1963) and Inner Temple (called to the bar, 1912). Barrister-at-law; JP for Northumberland; Deputy Chairman of Quarter Sessions, 1939-55 and Chairman, 1955-60; High Sheriff of Northumberland, 1935. Served with Royal Field Artillery in WW1 and in Egypt, 1918-21. He married, 14 June 1926, Mary Pamela MBE (d. 1968), daughter of Francis Myddelton Evans of Llynbaried (Radnors) and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Mary Anderson (b. 1927) (q.v.).
He inherited Littleharle Tower and Kirkharle Hall from his father in 1927.
He died 13 October 1971. His wife died in 1968.

Anderson (later Palmer), Elizabeth Mary (b. 1927) of Kirkharle Hall. Only child of Maj. George Denis Anderson (1885-1971) of Littleharle Tower, and his wife Mary Pamela, daughter of Francis Myddelton Evans of Llynbaried (Radnors), born 19 July 1927. She married, 14 June 1947, Capt. Philip Claud Palmer MC (1918-77), son of Claud Harold Palmer of Claybury Manor, Bushey (Herts) and had issue:
(1) John Philip Palmer (later Anderson) (b. 1948) (q.v.);
(2) Carolyn Lisette Palmer (b. 1951), born 6 June 1951;
(3) David George Palmer (b. 1953), born 27 August 1953;
(4) Vanessa Michele Palmer (b. 1955), born 18 February 1955;
(5) Geoffrey Michael Palmer (b. 1956), born 10 October 1956.
She inherited Littleharle Tower and Kirkharle Hall from her father in 1971.
Now living?

Palmer (later Anderson), John Philip (b. 1948), of Littleharle Tower. Eldest son of Capt. Philip Claud Palmer and his wife Elizabeth Mary, daughter of Maj. George Denis Anderson of Littleharle Tower, born 24 June 1948. He changed his name to Anderson by deed poll in 1973, and received royal licence to bear the Anderson arms the following year. High Sheriff of Northumberland, 2001. He married, 1976, Katharine Jean, daughter of Dr. E.A. Spriggs of River House, Wylam (Northbld), and had issue including:
(1) Thomas Philip Anderson (b. 1978);
(2) Katharine Mary Anderson (b. 1980);
(3) Juliet Helen Anderson (b. 1984);
(4) George Edmund Philip Anderson (b. 1988).
He received the Littleharle Tower and Kirkharle Hall estate from his mother, and was responsible for carrying into effect Capability Brown's unexecuted plans for the landscaping of Kirkharle Hall to mark the tricentenary of Brown's birth.
Now living.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1969, p.10; Sir N. Pevsner, I. Richmond et al., The buildings of England: Northumberland, 2nd edn., 1992, p.378; P. Meadows & E. Waterson, Lost houses of County Durham, 1993, p. 58; T. Faulkner & P. Lowery, Lost houses of Newcastle and Northumberland, 1996, p. 8.

Location of archives

Family papers are presumed to remain in family custody. In 2013 it was noted that Capability Brown's plan for Kirkharle had gone on permanent display at Newcastle University.

Coat of arms

Anderson of Little Harle Tower: Gules, three martlets fesseways or, between as many oak trees eradicated argent.


  1. My great great grandfather was gardener here in the 1840's

    1. My father's ancestors were landscape gardeners at/near Little Harle from 1600's till late 1800's, accdg to parish documents. They moved to Caton, Lancs and then to California in 1920's.


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.