The impressive brick gatehouse is what remains of the castle here of the Scales family. Not open to the public.
On the accession of Henry VII., Elizabeth, daughter of Sir J. Howard, and wife of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was found heir to Elizabeth Lady Scales, and thus Middleton came to this great Essex family ; but on the subsequent failure of their heirs male, it went by an heiress, in 1577, to Latimer, Earl of Exeter, whose heiress sold the property to Sir Thomas Holland in 1621. In 1757 it passed to Sir Roger Mostyn, whose nephew possessed it in 1808.
The old fabric remained in a partly ruined state until about twenty years ago, when it was purchased by Sir Lewis W. Jarvis of Lynn, who by the exercise of considerable taste restored the gatehouse to a habitable condition, and added a large wing on the site of a former building.
Middleton Tower, although acting as a gatehouse to other buildings, is a substantial mansion in itself, resembling in this the structures of Oxburgh, in the same county, of Mackworth, Derby, Saltwood, in Kent, and others. It can scarcely be dignified with the name of castle, but built in an age when domestic comfort was sought, it was sufficiently defended against any sudden hostility.
It is an oblong structure, 51 feet long by 27, and 54 feet high, built during the reign of Henry VI, of small red bricks, probably of Flemish make. At each of the three angles is an octagonal turret, and at the fourth a square one containing the staircase. The gateway is low-pointed, and over it is a good oriel window, with the arms of Scales, six escalops on a shield in a garter. The archway on the N. side admits to a courtyard about 84 yards by 46, where some of the buildings and lodgings stood, and the whole is surrounded by a wide moat, supplied with running water by a small stream.
At the distance of half a mile from the tower, on high ground near Middleton Hall, is a very lofty circular mound, now covered with trees, which may have once held an early fort, or may have been a look-out station for the tower, which lies low. A view of Middleton Tower as it was in 1810 forms the frontispiece of vol. vi. of Blomefield’s “History of Norfolk.” (Castles Of England, Sir James D. Mackenzie, 1896)