The story behind the Gatehouse

Brockhampton Gate House

It’s unlikely this charmingly lopsided two-storeyed building was constructed for defensive purposes but more so a symbol of wealth, alerting guests they were visiting a very important family.

Built for the Habingtons in 1543, the Gatehouse at Brockhampton Estate is a rare and pleasing sight for adults and children alike. Described as a visual pun of a miniature of Lower Brockhampton Manor, it’s likely the Gatehouse is as much of a talking point today as it was five hundred years ago.

It is rumoured through evidence taken from the Gatehouse that then-illegal Catholic masses were once held here from 1559 to 1791. If you look closely at the walls of the Gatehouse, you might spot the double Vs built in; religious marks that symbolised the Virgin Mary. 

The Gatehouse has been updated and repaired significantly since it was built. The staircase is a seventeenth century addition which replaced the original ladder. In 1999 the Gatehouse underwent major restoration work with the grapevine-carved bargeboards on the south gables being replaced with modern copies of the decayed Tudor ones. Amazingly, the bargeboards at the back entrance and the studded door are original to the building and are in a near perfect condition. 

The impressive timber-lined insides of the Gatehouse

If you look closely at the Gatehouse’s far wall and staircase corridor, you might notice some dark marks that look like imperfections in the wood. These are in fact ‘burn marks’ commonly found on the inside of timber framed buildings across northern Europe. Once thought to be careless accidents, it’s now believed these marks were actually purposely scorched onto walls superstitiously to protect the building from fire damage.