Manor of the More, Moor Park
The original site of the More was chosen by Anglo-Saxon settlers because of it's proximity to water - useful for growing crops, feeding animals, drinking and cooking. The name "more" derived from the old English word "mor" (later expressed as "mere"), meaning marshy land, waste upland or fen.
Tributaries of the river Colne run through the site which is a flat marshy area of land, downhill from the position of the existing l8th Century Moor Park mansion. The Manor of the More is not mentioned in the Domesday book but it is known to have been among the manors of south-west Hertfordshire given by King Offa to the abbey of St Albans at it's foundation around AD 793. The Manor remained in the hands of the abbey for the next 500 years.
Excavations showed a typical l4th century manor house of good construction had been demolished to make way for a 15th century brick built castle (one of the earliest references to the use of brick for fortification in England) surrounded on all sides by a moat [see below]. Finds from the excavations of 1952-1955 carned out by the pupils of Merchants Taylors' School are on display. The site is today occupied by the Northwood Preparatory school, Moor Farm, Sandy Lodge Road.
A Chronology of the More
- The Victoria County History and "Rickmansworth's Lost Palace" by Heather Falvey give accounts of the history of the Manor of the More, including occupants and events:
- 1416-1444 William Flete, a London mercer, built the castle and was the tenant of the Manor. Powerful men supported him in this, including the Bishops of Winchester and Durham and six others who acted as guarantors and supported his title.
- 1435 Flete came into conflict with tenant farmers when he tried to enforce a right of way from the Manor to Watford. This was unsuccessful until a century later when Cardinal Wolsey seized land owned by Tolpott [hence Tolpits Lane].
- 1456 Sir Ralph Butler, Lord Chamberlain to HenryVI, occupied the Manor
- 1462 George Neville, Chancellor of England and Archbishop of York made significant alterations during his tenancy.
- 1476 George Neville died and from then up to 1483, when he took it back, Edward IV granted tenancies to a succession of tenants. The king also stayed at the Manor from time to time, using the park for hunting.
- 1484 Richard III held the Manor, granting it to Edward Gower, an Usher of the King's chamber.
- 1486 the Manor of the More was granted to John de Vere, Earl of Oxford by Henry VII. It reverted to the Crown on his death in 1513.
- 1513 it was leased to the Bishop of Durham, Thomas Ruthall. Henry VIII stayed many times as his guest.
- 1520 the Abbot of St Albans was in possession of the Manor. Later in that year Cardinal Wolsey became Abbot and began residing at the Manor of the More. Wolsey carried out considerable building works and it came to closely resemble Herstmonceux Cuntle.
- 1529, when Wolsey had fallen from favour, having failed to obtain an annulment of Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Sir John Russell held it as caretaker for HenryVIII.
- 1532: the gardens were reported by Thomas Cromwell to be showing signs of neglect.
- 1534 Princess Mary stayed.
- 1540 Henry visited with Catherine Howard on their wedding tour.
- 1556 the estate was annexed to the Duchy of Lancaster. The surveyors observed that the house was "very much decayed".
- The additions by Wolsey, and Henry VIII, coupled with the marshy ground resulted in walls with substantial cracks as the buildings subsided. A report at the beginning of Elizabeth I's reign, in 1558, indicated that the main problem was the fact that the foundations were defective. The Queen did not authorise repairs.
- Excavations revealed that squatters lived in the house until it's destruction in 1661.