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The Manor of the More

A Scheduled Monument in Moor Park & Eastbury, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.6343 / 51°38'3"N

Longitude: -0.4393 / 0°26'21"W

OS Eastings: 508106.768974

OS Northings: 193981.095749

OS Grid: TQ081939

Mapcode National: GBR 2M.MWY

Mapcode Global: VHFSS.B6L0

Entry Name: The Manor of the More

Scheduled Date: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015595

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29381

County: Hertfordshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Moor Park & Eastbury

Built-Up Area: Northwood

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Rickmansworth

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The buried remains of the Manor of the More, a great house of the late
medieval period (with antecedents in a moated site dating from the 13th
century) lie on the south side of the flood plain of the Colne Valley, some
2km upriver from the centre of Rickmansworth, in an area now used as the
sports fields for Northwood Preparatory School which lies immediately to the
The circuits of moats surrounding the main house, its courtyards and gardens,
remained visible as earthworks until 1937, after which it was first partly
infilled and then completely overlain by imported soil by 1957. Recent work
has shown this overburden to be anything up to 1m in depth, and only slight
undulations now mark the position of the principle features. The site
(specifically the central island) was partly excavated between 1952 and 1955,
demonstrating two main phases of occupation before and after 1426, when a
royal license was granted for the construction of a large and elaborate
building. Three main periods of construction were identified prior to this
date as well as three successive periods of adaptation and aggrandisement, all
of which can be linked to documentary sources reflecting the changing use and
status of the site.
The earliest reference to the site dates from c.1182 when the Manor of More
was granted by the Abbot of St Albans to Adam Aignel, whose family retained
the property for nearly two centuries. Excavation uncovered no evidence as
early as this, although by c.1250-1300 (Period I) a small double island moated
site had been constructed, in which the northern island (within the area of
the later inner courtyard) served an ancillary purpose with traces of
superficial building, and the southern island (largely destroyed by the later
moat surrounding the inner courtyard) probably contained the principle
dwelling. The intervening arm, separating the two moats, was subsequently
filled in around 1300-1350 (Period II) and part overlain by a small
rectangular building with dwarf flint walls containing two ovens suggesting
use as a kitchen, probably still associated with a main dwelling to the south.
The construction work in Period III (c.1350-1429) may coincide with the death
of John Aignel in 1364 and the hiatus in the succession which followed until
1366 with his widow's marriage to Andrew Bures. This period saw the
development of a new timber house on the northern island, with a main hall
separating a kitchen to the west from a solar to the east and several other
rooms including an upper storey over the eastern end. This house was swept
away after 1426 when Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, Thomas, Bishop of
Durham, William Flete and others, obtained a charter licensing them to
'enclose, crenellate, enturret and embattle with stones, lime and brik, their
manor of More in Rykmersworth'. This house, constructed shortly thereafter
(period IV), enclosed three sides of a courtyard which overlay the former
dwelling and was entered via a gate house and drawbridge on the south side.
Only on this side did the courtyard front directly onto the new moat, which
measured up to 17m across; elsewhere the building was separated from the ditch
by a berm of c.10m. The earlier moats were infilled, and where the new
foundations coincided with these features the builders constructed relieving
arches founded on piers of chalk rubble. The lower parts of the walls were
faced with dressed chalk, above which was a string course of tile and then
brick in English bond. Corner turrets have been supposed from traces found
during excavation.
The manor passed through several hands after 1456, including those of the
Abbot of St Albans (the titular lord) and Sir Ralph Boteler, before being sold
to George Neville, Archbishop of York, in the 1460s. The Archbishop elaborated
on the work of his predecessors during this period up to 1472 (when Neville
was arrested for treason and the property sequestered by Edward IV). A vaulted
cellar was inserted beneath the east range, additions were made to the
plumbing system and doubtless to the decoration of the apartments (period V).
The manor and the goods therein, seized at the time of his arrest were said to
value at least 20 million lire.
In the years leading to the end of the 15th century the manor passed between
the King, the Dean and Canons of St George's, Windsor and the Earl of Oxford.
Reverting to the Crown on Oxford's death in 1513, the manor was granted
to the Bishop of Durham, and in 1520 the lease was held once again by the
Abbot of St Albans. In 1522 Cardinal Wolsey was confirmed in this position,
and thus the manor came into his possession and was greatly embellished
(period VI). New wings, also in brick, were added to the east and west and a
further range constructed on the berm to the north. An outer walled courtyard
(the Base Court) was added to the southern side of the moat, with lodgings on
three sides, corner towers and a gatehouse. A second rectangular moat, broadly
symmetrical to that surrounding the inner courtyard, was created on the north
side (now partly overlain by a railway embankment) enclosing a formal garden
which was bisected by a timber covered walkway or gallery leading from the
main island. Further moated garden areas served by interconnecting leats
extended to the south west of the great house, the main rectangular enclosure
measuring in total some 130m by 60m with a smaller triangular island abutting
the western end. These features, also infilled before 1957, may have been
created at this time. The important `Treaty of the More' introducing a period
of peace with France was signed at The More in 1525. The French ambassador Du
Bellay visiting The More two years later considered it more splendid than
Hampton Court.
Henry VIII visited the More on several occasions during Wolsey's tenure and,
in 1531, the year after the cardinal's fall from favour, the manor was ceded
to the Crown by the next Abbot of St Albans. Work continued on the complex
(period VII), perhaps completing projects begun by Wolsey and certainly
reversing the effects of neglect in the gardens which were so evident at the
time of Catherine of Aragon's sojourn there in the winter of 1531-2. Henry
continued to use The More as an occasional residence and frequent meetings of
the Privy Council took place there in 1542. Accounts of decoration,
embellishment and repair are recorded between 1534 and 1541. During this time
the royal apartments in the inner court were divided into a `King's Side' and
`Queen's Side', connecting in the centre of the north range and containing the
usual sequence of public and private chambers, many of which were elaborately
decorated with ornate plasterwork and gilt. Other features, probably
originating with Wolsey, included galleries and a chapel. After the death of
Edward VI in 1553 the manor entered a period of decline, hastened by
structural problems no doubt exacerbated by the subsidence of the earlier
ditches. A last attempt at remedial work is recorded between 1547 and 1552,
and although a detailed survey of the buildings in 1568 reflects their former
magnificence, it is clearly a record of decay. The house was leased to the
Earl of Bedford in 1576, but by 1598 it was recorded in ruins. The third
Earl, built a new house, the forerunner of the present More Park mansion, on
the hill to the south west around 1617, within the area of deer park which
formerly accompanied The More. The scheduling includes the known extent of the
buried remains of the great house complex of 1426 onwards, together with the
associated garden areas and the remains of the earlier manor buildings and
related features which it replaced.
All modern structures and surfaces within this area are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Medieval great houses were the residences of high-status non-Royal households.
They had domestic rather than military functions and show little or no sign of
fortification, even of a purely cosmetic nature. Great houses share several of
the characteristics of royal palaces, and in particular shared similar
characteristics of size, sophistication, and decoration of the architecture.
Great houses usually consist of a group of buildings, including a great hall,
service rooms, one or more kitchens, several suites of chambers for the
owners, the household and its guests, and a gatehouse. Other ancillary
buildings are known to have been present but very rarely survive. Earlier
examples typically comprised a collection of separate buildings, but through
the 14th and 15th century there was increasing integration of the buildings
into a few larger buildings. By the later medieval period, such complexes were
commonly laid out around one or more formal courtyards; in the 16th century
this would occasionally be contrived so that the elevations were symmetrical.
Many great houses are still notable for the high quality of their architecture
and for the opulence of their furnishings. Several examples contain
substantially intact buildings, others consist of ruins or complexes of
Great houses are found throughout England, although there is a concentration
in the south and Midlands. Further north, great houses were more heavily
fortified, reflecting more unsettled political and social conditions, but
their domestic purpose and status were still predominant. Fewer than 250
examples of great houses have been identified. As a rare monument class which
provide an important insight into the lives of medieval aristocratic or gentry
households, all examples will be nationally important.

The Manor of the More ranked amongst the most impressive of the later medieval
great houses of noblemen and high churchmen, comparable in its prime with
Hampton Court and other royal palaces such as Richmond. Although now buried
beneath layers of imported soil, the archaeological remains survive well. The
part excavations between 1952 and 1955 have demonstrated the wealth of
structural evidence on the island of the inner courtyard, and reports of the
appearance of the earthworks in the southern courtyard (the Base Court) prior
to their burial clearly show that a similar degree of preservation is to be
expected. The excavations also found that waterlogged conditions in the deep
features allowed the preservation of organic remains from the period of
occupation, including elements of timberwork as well as evidence for the diet,
and even the clothing of the occupants. The moated gardens to the north and
west are also considered to survive well in this buried condition. The ditches
will contain further artefactual evidence for the date of construction and
duration of use, and the islands are thought to retain evidence for the layout
of the gardens which, from a reference in 1530, are likely to have included
knot designs. The history of the manor is well documented and its development
is thus associated with some of the most influential menbers of society in the
late 15th and 16th centuries, including Archbishop Neville and Cardinal
Wolsey, and later Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. During this latter
period the manor may technically have become a royal palace, although most of
the essential construction work leading to the final appearance of the complex
had been started, if not completed, in Wolsey's time.
The evidence of earlier occupation on the site is also of considerable
significance. The combination of evidence from documentary sources and limited
excavation demonstrates a continuity of habitation spanning nearly three
centuries and provides detailed information on the evolution of the character
of the site throughout this time. Apart from where the remains of earlier
structures and other features were destroyed by the construction of the great
house, the physical remains of the early phases have been shown to survive
remarkably well.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Hertfordshire, (1910), 375-6
Colvin, H M, The History of the King's Works 1485-1660 , (1982), 164-9
Colvin, H M, The History of the King's Works 1485-1660 , (1982), 164-9
Cooper-Reade, H, Northwood School, Junior School Site: Archaeological Evaluation, (1991)
Cooper-Reade, H, Northwood School, Junior School Site: Archaeological Evaluation, (1991)
Biddle, M, Barfield, L, Millard, A, 'Arch J.' in Excavation of the Manor of the More, Rickmansworth, , Vol. 116, (1959), 136-160
Biddle, M, Barfield, L, Millard, A, 'Arch J.' in Excavation of the Manor of the More, Rickmansworth, , Vol. 116, (1959), 136-60
Biddle, M, Barfield, L, Millard, A, 'Arch J.' in Excavation of the Manor of the More, Rickmansworth, , Vol. 116, (1959), 136-60
Braun, H, 'Trans St.Albans Hist, Archaeo & Archit Soc' in The Castle of the More, (1936), 38-41
Braun, H, 'Trans St.Albans Hist, Archaeo & Archit Soc' in The Castle of the More, (1936), 38-41
Braun, H, 'Trans St.Albans Hist, Archaeo & Archit Soc' in The Castle of the More, (1936), 38-41
Letter to CAO. SMR 0829 parish file, Sloper, J C, The Manor of the More, Rickmansworth, (1989)
Source Date: 1887
Tithe Map (County Record Office)

Source: Historic England

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