Archway - Tower Bank
Captain Craster Memorial
Coastguard Cottages Coquet View
Iron Age Settlement
Little Adam's House
Quarry, Aerial Ropeway and Bins
St Peter the Fisherman
We Can Mind the Time
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World War Two
Craster Tower - 850 Years Occupancy - a Short History
This is a copy of a document made available to the History Group by Michael Craster.
"The Craster family, who still own Craster Tower, have been associated with the area since the mid- 12th Century, when Albert, who is thought to have come over from the Rhineland and who married Christiana of Redcar in Yorkshire, acquired Crawcestre for half a knight's fee. He took the name of the place where he settled and built his hall ("Crawe" is the Old English for crow, and the term "caestre" was applied to any form of
earthwork- and indeed the rooks are still here!), and the family used the name Crawcestre until the end of the fifteenth century, by which time it had contracted into Craster.
Towards the end of the 14th Century Sir Edmund Crawcestre was granted permission – an early example of planning consent! - to build the pele tower, which is included among a list of Border strongholds dated 1415. It originally had 4 floors rather than the present 3, with the main entrance on the first floor. The well for the spiral staircase connecting the floors still exists in the thickness of the SE comer wall.
Around 1670, on the site of the original hall, Edmund Craster built the extension which is still the basis of the East wing. This has been extensively altered in the years since: first in the 19th Century when an extra storey was added and it was widened by a two storey addition along the north side; and subsequently, internally, in the 20th Century in the conversion into flats. Edmund also built the stables.
In 1770 George Craster built the Georgian South wing, the front of which is faced in the local whinstone in contrast to the rest of the house which is built of sandstone. The identity of the architect is not known.
George had no children, and the estate passed to his cousin, Daniel, whose son Shafto Craster continued the alterations by "gothicising" the pele tower in 1785. The middle floor had been heightened by George, reducing the number of floors from 4 to 3, and, now in an early example of the genre, what became known as "Strawberry Hill Gothic" windows and internal vaulted embrasures were put into the two upper floors. This can still be seen in the two Tower drawing rooms.
At the same time Shafto diverted the road, which had hitherto run along the north side of the house and built the coach-houses as well as the arch over what was now known as "the Avenue'. Up to this time the village had been immediately north and east of the Tower, but as part of his campaign of improvements Shafto moved it to its present location(where it was originally known as Craster Seahouses),and started the kippering industry. He also built the schoolhouse in Dunstan (now two private dwellings).
When Shafto died in 1837 after 50 years as squire, the property passed to Thomas Wood-Craster, his nephew. Thomas' father, John Wood of Beadnell, was much involved in -the promotion of both the herring-fishery industry and local agriculture, and both his mother and his wife were Crasters. Thomas changed his name by royal licence in 1838, and lived at the Tower for 30 years, during which time he carried out a number of improvements, for which he employed the services of John Dobson, the well known Newcastle architect. The church in the village was built by his family in his memory.
In 1965 Thomas' great-grandson, Sir John Craster, having no children, disposed of the Tower to 3 cousins who were anxious to ensure that after so much time the house did not leave the family. They divided it into 3 flats (an early example of multi-occupancy), making it easier for a building of this size to be properly used and now, after a further 40 years and a number of vicissitudes, the house is back in the ownership of a single branch of the family.
Originally the first and 2nd floors of the pele tower, when the chimney would have been at the north end (where the silver mounted picture hangs).
Converted in 1770 into one room and became George Craster's best bedroom.
Subsequently gothicised in 1785 by Shafto - see the windows and embrasures - and became the drawing room in the approved Georgian manner. The door then was in the south wall, leading out onto the landing at the top of the main stairs.
Has remained the drawing room ever since, but the door was moved into its present location in 1968.
Fireplace dates from 1840 - Shafto's daughter Frances Isabella having torn out the original and taken it to Preston when she had to move out on her father's death in 1837!
Picture of Daniel with wig is Daniel Craster 11 who had lived at Preston and died in 1777 at the age of 96....
1. Hall, by library. Thos Wood of Beadnell, Maj in N'land Militia. d. 1769. Father of John Wood
2. Daniel Craster II in 1784
3. Daniel Craster junior (would have been Daniel IV), died in his twenties as a result of a horse kick in 1779
4. Bottom of stairs - Daniel Il aged 92.
5. By front door - John Wood of Beadnell
6. Over Red Room door - Edmund Craster - Shafto's younger brother, owned Preston. d. 1824
7. Over Pink Room door - Phyllis Craster (nee Buston) Married Edmund at 22 (when he was 50+)! and died in childbirth 18 months later.
8. Right - Anne Craster, wife of John Wood painted by Nathaniel Hone RA in ? 1784).
9. Left. Anne's sister Mary - same artist.
10. End - John (b.1823) Edmund (b.1824) and Shafto (b.1826). sons of Thomas Wood Craster (who inherited the Tower from Shafto)
11. Left of fireplace - Katherine Broadwood, daughter of John Broadwood, piano maker
1. End wall - right - Ann Craster, wife of Daniel III and mother of Yellow Anne, Mrs. John Wood. The child at her knee is Elizabeth.
2. End wall - right - Elizabeth act 17 shortly before she died of smallpox in 1788.
3. End wall - centre. Mrs. John Craster painted by Carlos Sanchez aet 70+
4. 3 boys - a copy of a water colour by Edward Hudson of the 3 sons of Thomas Wood Craster (see 10 above).
Stairs to Drawing Room
Col George Craster, late Indian Cavalry in 1937
1. Major Gen Leonard Wheatley
2. Michael Tom and Bill Craster by Derek Clark."