The story behind the Gatehouse

Brockhampton and Gatehouse looking glorious in summer sun

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

The Gatehouse at Brockhampton is a rare and pleasing sight for adults and children alike. Designed as a visual pun of the manor house, it’s likely it is as much of a talking point today as it was when it was first built, nearly five hundred years ago. Dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) dates the gatehouse to around 1530-40. The delightfully decorative bargeboards carved with trailing vines are faithful reproductions of the decayed originals, but the studded door is a remarkable survival.

Visitors can climb the steps to see inside the gatehouse when they visit.
The impressive timbers inside the gatehouse
Visitors can climb the steps to see inside the gatehouse when they visit.

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 gatehouse and garden in springtime
The gatehouse and spring flowers
The gatehouse and garden in springtime

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. 

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