There is evidence that the Pelhams rebuilt the existing moated manor-house at Laughton in the early 15th century, but a century later Sir William Pelham, who had succeeded his father in 1517, clearly thought it in need of further improvement. How much work he actually carried out is now uncertain, but it is likely that his plans, at least, were extensive. And until recently there survived bricks bearing the inscription 'Ian de grace 1534 fut cest mayso faicte,' indicating that he was responsible for more than the addition of the tower and some internal redecoration.
William Pelham belonged to a generation bought up with some knowledge of Renaissance ideas, of which the keenest follower was the young prince himself, later Henry VIII, whose near contemporary William was. It was in Henry's Court circle that the influence of Italy made its first tentative appearance, partly in rivalry with the equally Renaissance monarch, Francois I of France. William Pelham was present at their meeting on the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. Through his two marriages he came into further contact with the Court, his second father-in-law being William Sandys, Knight of the Garter, Lord Chamberlain and patron of Italian craftsmen.
Besides the tower, William seems at least to have rebuilt the forecourt, with a gatehouse and corner building. 17th-century illustrations show a house still very much of medieval type, but with an upper floor over the central hall and this may have been inserted in 1534. Perhaps there was a porch as well, forming an elegant frontispiece, embellished like the tower with decoratively moulded terracotta, a new material which was itself something of an emblem for Renaissance enthusiasts.
The purpose of the tower again we do not know for certain, but in such marshy surroundings the likelihood is that it was intended to serve as an outlook, both for practical purposes and for pleasure. A number of such outlook towers survive from the 16th century. Its top floor was accessible only from the ground floor by the stair turret. The two middle floors, with the grandest rooms, were reached from the main house, which surrounded it on two sides.
By the end of the 16th century, however, Laughton had ceased to be a house of any importance. In 1580 Sir Thomas Pelham built a new house on higher ground at Halland and the family turned its back on the marshes. During the 17th century, Laughton became a tenanted farmhouse, which it remained for the rest of its existence.
There was still one more chapter to come in Laughton's architectural history. In 1715, Thomas Pelham, Duke of Newcastle, gave Laughton Place Farm to his younger brother Henry. These two were among the great figures of the 18th century, both as politicians (each served as Prime Minister) and architectural patrons; Thomas at Claremont and Henry at Esher Place, where William Kent transformed what remained of the Bishop's Palace into a Gothick mansion. Towards the end of his life, Henry Pelham resolved to do likewise at Laughton. He employed for this a Mr White, a carpenter who had been in charge at Esher and so had worked under William Kent. He chose to remodel Laughton in a similar Gothick manner.
There is some evidence that Henry Pelham intended to have rooms for his own use at Laughton but he died, before the work was finished, in 1754.
The new house continued as the home of a tenant farmer until 1927 when the property was sold. The new owner made repeated attempts to demolish the house and eventually did so in the 1950s, leaving the tower standing on its own in the marsh.