The Moor – a snippet about George Nevill’s house

Posted: July 2, 2010 in George Nevill, Archbishop of York, The Moor

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).


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