Archive for July 2, 2010

From The Metropolitan Magazine Volume 20

“Moor Park was originally built in the year 1473, by George Neville, Archbishop of York, brother of the famous Earl of Warwick; to whom, in those troublesome and unsettled times, appertained the dangerous distinction of making and unmaking kings. The archbishop had a grant from the crown of the manor of the moor, from which the park had its name. Immediately after the completion of the mansion, the princely prelate entertained there King Edward IV, together with many of the great men of the day, at a splendid banquet of “house-warming”. Some idea may be formed of the splendor with which Moor Park was thrown open, on this occasion, to the hospitalities of the time, from the following account, taken from the original in the Tower, of a great entertainment given by the same prelate three years before, but which does not appear to have been graced by royal presence. “George Neville, brother to the great Earl of Warwick, in the year 1470 made a feast for the nobility, gentry and clergy, wherein were employed one hundred cooks, sixty-two kitcheners, five hundred and fifteen scullions. At this feast the Earl of Warwick was steward, the Earl of Bedford treasurer, and the Lord Hasting comptroller, together with many noble officers and servitors.” This archbishop, however, did not long enjoy Moor Park, dying, just three years after its erection, of excessive grief, induced (as is supposed) by his confinement to the Tower, to which he was committed upon the open rebellion of the ever-restless Warwick.

“After Neville’s death, the “Manse of the Moor” reverted to the crown, and so remained till Henry VII sold it to the brave Earl of Oxford, who led the van of the army at the battle of Bosworth. One would suppose that, for this service, it would have been granted to Oxford as a free gift: but as this king was notoriously very economical, if he really did (as is alleged) sell it on this occasion, he probably sold it to the earl a bargain!”

There seems to be some chronological confusion here, and possibly confusion with the archbishop’s enthronement feast at Cawood Castle. If the house was built in 1473, there couldn’t have been a feast there involving the earl of Warwick, in 1470 or any other year. I can’t find out who the earl of Bedford might have been, as the first mention of one I can find online doesn’t appear on the planet until 1485. (But I’ve dropped down to dialup speed at the moment, and my patience always dwindles exponentially when that happens – I’ll try again in a few days, maybe I’ll find the elusive earl.)

George wasn’t confined to the Tower for supporting his brother’s rebellion, but for allegedly plotting against the crown some years after Warwick’s death. This plotting is believed to have been carried out at The Moor. He was first shipped to France and imprisoned, then brought back to England. As one of the two most powerful churchmen in England, twice chancellor, favoured counsellor of a king and for many years his brother Warwick’s loyal and trusted supporter, failing to achieve his ambition to be cardinal, being personally sacked as chancellor by Edward IV, losing his remaining brothers in battle, then suffering exile and imprisonment, I’m inclined to accept ‘excessive grief’ as a preliminary diagnosis.

Click back a couple of pages to get a description of the house as it was in the year Mrs Crawford wrote this article (which date I can’t locate). She goes on to talk about the further history of the manor.  Sadly, the house she describes in this article is in fact not the archbishop’s manor but a later construction.

It’s also mentioned in Greater Mediaeval Houses in England and Wales, 1300-1500: Southern England by Anthony Emery, but it is only a mention.

The house was in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, which is still quite rural and green. Nothing is left of George Nevill’s original.


In searching for something else entirely (as is frequently the way), I found this nicely detailed reference to the house at Google Books (Greater Mediaeval Houses in England and Wales, 1300-1500: East Anglia).

In Calais, the Captain of Warwick was settling down to his new job which involved shouting at people and asking the king for money which he always said no.

“But he needs money, my dear,” the king, Henry VI said to his wife the queen, Margaret of Anjou. “He has to pay people and everything.”

Margaret stamped her foot and tossed her tawny tresses. “Non, non, non!” she shrilled, sounding very French which she did when she was angry. “E will ave nozing!”

When the Earl of Calais got the letter saying he was to have nothing he got very angry and went to his ship and sailed out to sea and attacked some Spaniards and sent the gold to Calais and sank some French ships.

The people of London cheered when they heard that Warwick was now a pirate because that made him dashing and romantic as well as adventurous and brave. They loved him very much. This pleased Warwick because he liked to be loved.

The Duke of York, at home with his wife the Duchess of York and their seven children was a bit jealous of Warwick, so he thought he’d go to Ludlow Castle with the Earl of Salisbury and start another war. Then Warwick would have to come home and that would put a stop to all that pirating nonsense.

The Duke of York picked up his youngest son, Richard or Dickon very carefully, because he was very frail and angelic® and he didn’t want to break him. He had some other children, but they were neither frail nor angelic®. He kissed the little boy very carefully and put him back in his bed so that he could sleep and maybe grow a bit stronger, though he needed to stay angelic because he was Richard or Dickon.

The Countess of Salisbury went with her husband to Ludlow and there she joined in with whatever her husband and the Duke of York were doing. Warwick was surprised to see his mother there, but he kissed her and she kissed him back, like a mother and son kiss which was sweet.

“Why are you here, mother?” he demanded. “You will be attainted if you don’t look out.”

“I don’t care!” the Countess of Salisbury said defiantly. “Let them attaint me if they want to!”

The queen came with her army and said she would kill them all, especially Warwick. Warwick’s heart skipped a beat to hear her voice and thought maybe this would be a good chance to catch up with her for a few minutes, see if he couldn’t use his charisma and sex appeal to get her to change her mind.

“I’ll go and talk to her,” he volunteered. So he went and met with the queen in a quiet, secret place and for a little while he thought his charisma and sex appeal might be working.

“Do you miss me?” he growled.

“Of course I do, you imbecile!” Margaret fluttered.

He stroked her auburn hair and kissed her, pushed her back against the wall, the rough stones of the wall cutting into her back. She felt as if she was on fire, melting in his heat. She wanted to fall so that he could catch her, lower her gently to the ground, push up her skirts, lay his rough hands, calloused and strong, firm and…

“You are so formidable!” she murmured.

“Then come with me, my darling. Let’s run away together. Where no-one can find us.”

Margaret trembled in his arms. Just a few feet away she could hear the sound of armed men readying for war. She wasn’t sure whose side they were on, because you can’t always tell just by listening, unless your England at war with France. It made her shiver.

“Hand to me ze head of ze Duc of York!” she breathed into his ear. “And I will zink about it.”

With one thrust he thrust her from him and reeled back, shock and horror raising beads of sweat upon his brow. “Unnatural woman!” he croaked. “How can you be speaking of such things when I am talking of love.”

“You will not do it? Even for moi!”

“No,” horror constricting his throat so that the words sounded strangled. “No. I won’t!”

“Zen you do not lurve me! Ziz was your last chance!” And she left him like a zephyr, like a spark and he slumped against the wall and wept.

“It’s no good,” he shook his head to the Duke of York. “She’s not budging an inch.”

“There are too many of them,” the Duke of York said. “We shall have to bugger off.” He said this because he was an old campaigner in France and he used salty language, except not so salty as the Earl of Warwick who had recently been a pirate.

“I shall have to come with you,” the Countess of Salisbury said. “Because I shall be attainted if I don’t.”

So they left Ludlow. Cecily was holding her frail and angelic® son Richard or Dickon with her other children, except Edward and Edmund who had gone with the others, around her skirts when the queen came. The queen saw that she was very brave and beautiful so she let her go and stay with her sister while she destroyed Ludlow Castle.

Where is my husband gone? Cecily thought proudly.

Where has my faizless lover run to? Margaret thought furiously. But neither woman voiced this thought to each other but just went about their business.

And Warwick was right, the Countess of Salisbuyry was attainted which was the very first woman ever to be attainted and she must have been very proud.

® Susan Higginbotham