The story behind the Gatehouse

Brockhampton timber framed gate house

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

A sign of wealth

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.

In Brockhampton gatehouse you can see strange marks
Double V shaped burn mark in timber frame
In Brockhampton gatehouse you can see strange marks

A place of faith

It is thought that then-illegal Catholic masses were once held here between 1559 and 1791. If you look closely at the walls of the Gatehouse, you might spot the double Vs burnt in to the wood. These are religious marks that symbolised the Virgin Mary. 

Changing through the ages

The Gatehouse has been restored 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 huge studded door are original and  in near perfect condition. 

The impressive timber-lined insides of the Gatehouse

Strange marks

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 known these marks were purposely scorched into walls. It was believed these marks protected the building from fire. 

Come to Brockhampton gatehouse and spot the many burn marks
Brockhampton gatehouse burn marks on timber frame
Come to Brockhampton gatehouse and spot the many burn marks