Moor Park Mansion

Moor Park Mansion in Rickmansworth is a listed grade I Palladian mansion. It is largely the work of Benjamin Styles who owned the mansion in the 18th century, but its roots go back much further.

The original building was a palace, built for the abbots of St Albans. Henry VIII gave this palace, a short distance from the current house, to Cardinal Wolsey. Henry was royally entertained there by the Cardinal during his tenure. It was also the first place to which Henry's first wife, Katherine of Aragon, was exiled to when Henry decided to replace her with Anne Boleyn. This was because the air at The Moor (which was how it was known at the time) was not conducive to living a long life.

In 1670, Moor Park became the property of the Duke of Monmouth, who began to build the house in it's current position. The Duke was the illegitimate son of Charles II, through his liaison with Lucy Walters, while he was in exile after the execution of his father. Although he could not inherit the throne, it did not stop him from rebelling against his uncle James II. Monmouth's widow sold Moor Park to Benjamin Styles in 1720 who re-built the property.

Moor Park Mansion changed hands through several families until Lord Leverhulme, who made his fortune in soap and cleaning products, bought it in 1918. He had the famous golf course built in the grounds and financed this by selling off some of the land for the building of the Moor Park estate, a rather exclusive, gated development.

Moor Park Mansion now belongs to the club members and is their clubhouse. However, it is possible to tour Moor Park Mansion between April and October on Thursdays.


Moor Park Hall. Image: Preston Baker.

The Moor Park estate at Beckwithshaw, in North Yorkshire, was purchased in 1848 by James Bray, who built a mansion, before deciding to rebuild it Elizabethan-style in 1859 for £8,000. The architects were Messrs Andrews and Delauney of Bradford. James Bray was an iron and brass founder who had obtained contracts to build the Leeds and Thirsk and Wharfedale Railways. The Brays were widely known in the area for their enterprise and philanthropic works, and at Beckwithshaw, his wife had founded the Unsectarian Day School.

Ten years later, Moor Park was bought by Joseph Hargreave Nussey MP, a Leeds-based woollen manufacturer. In 1882, the mansion was purchased by Dr Henry Williams, a generous benefactor to the locality, who gave the village its vicarage, paid for its church furnishings and funded the village institute.

Moor Park Hall. Image: Preston Baker.

The Williams family owned Moor Park until the 1940s, but the mansion appears to have been tenanted for most of this time. Notable residents were Frederick Wharam Turner, a Bradford wool trader and managing director of Illingworth, Morris and Co, and Robert Reid, the head of a firm of Horbury oil distillers. After Reid’s death in 1940, his widow remained until 1942, and the estate was put up for auction by Joshua Appleyard Williams of Pannal Ash. It failed to sell, but by 1947, Moor Park was in the hands of the Women’s Land Army and used as a hostel.

Today it comprises of apartments, the feature of one of these being a secret door from the drawing room, leading up to the viewing tower, with windows on all sides giving a 360-degree view.

Moor Park Hall. Image: Preston Baker. Moor Park Hall. Image: Preston Baker. Moor Park Hall. Image: Preston Baker. Moor Park Hall. Image: Preston Baker.

Eastbury in the 21st Century is far from the agricultural community from which it began and is now a green and leafy suburb nestled between Moor Park, South Oxhey and Northwood. It is home to some 3,000 residents and within its boundaries contains a recreation ground, public tennis courts, a children’s play area and Eastbury Farm School.

Early history

A large part of the area know as Eastbury was once part of the Manor of Eastbury which dates back to the 13th Century when it belonged to the monks of St Albans Abbey. In the 15th Century it merged with the Manor of Batchworth and the Manor of the Moor, including what is now the Moor Park estate, from which it descended. The area was mostly farmland and woodlands surrounding a large and elaborate residence and had a chequered history of ownership. Many farms in the manor changed hangs during the 1800’s and in 1828 Moor Park Mansion and its surrounding land was purchased by the second Earl of Grosvenor. The Metropolitan Line railway station, Northwood was opened later that century in 1887 and was instrumental in encouraging suburban development in the area. Moor Park and Eastbury soon became part of ‘Metroland’.

Late history

In 1918 the estate passed in to the hands of the third Lord Ebury who put the entire manor, amounting to 3,000 acres, up for auction. The working farms of Grove Farm and Eastbury Farm were included as Lots 16 and 17 respectively. Eastbury Farm was described as “a compact grazing and dairy holding…..abutting Claypit Lane and only one mile from Northwood Station”. It embraced an area of approximately 87 acres and the land was described as having high prospect for building and accommodation purposes. Grove Farm, comprising of 172 acres was said to be “eminently suitable for development as a building estate”.

At the time of the auction, the road winding down from Batchworth Heath past Grove Farm, over the railway and beyond Eastbury Farmhouse, was called Claypit Lane. The housing estate we know as Eastbury Farm was not developed until the 1950’s. The farmhouse survived until the early part of this century when it was demolished to make way for the houses in Eastbury Farm Close. The Grove Farm Park estate was developed later in the 1970’s and the farmhouse there, now called The Old Grange, still stands at the entrance to the former estate at the top of Batchworth Lane.

"We arrange a wide selection of lectures - mornings, evenings and days of special interest - plus outside visits and tours - one-day UK coach visits, five-day UK tours and five-day overseas tours"

The Arts Society Moor Park is a friendly and enthusiastic society, which meets to enjoy talks on a great variety of subjects within the spectrum of decorative and fine arts, given by lecturers who are specialists in their field. We encourage members to arrive at least half an hour before meetings to enjoy refreshments, sign up for outings, chat with friends and make new friends.

Under normal circumstances our vibrant, action packed programme includes a morning lecture at Winston Churchill Hall, Ruislip, on the third Wednesday of the month, evening lectures at Moor Park Mansion, Rickmansworth, and three or four day trips a year by coach to places of historic or artistic interest.

Four times a year we arrange a Day of Special Interest at Moor Park Mansion to look at a topic in greater depth and each year we have a five day UK trip. In addition, every two years we arrange a five day trip abroad.

However, under the current extreme circumstances of lockdowns and social distancing all our venues are closed. For the time being all our events will be broadcast online using Zoom.

We have a thriving volunteer programme encompassing Young Arts, Heritage Volunteers and Church Recorders, which we encourage members to join if they can spare a few hours a month &ndash no specialist knowledge needed.

Interested in joining us? You are most welcome to come to a &lsquotaster&rsquo meeting. Our President is always near the registration desk, ready to show you around and introduce you to people.

Do look further into our web site for reports on what we have done during the past year and what we plan to do in future.

Moor Park Mansion Open for Guided Tours – Thursday 18th Sept 2014

Moor Park Mansion is a Grade I listed Palladian mansion set within over 300 hundred acres in Hertfordshire. The mansion which is rich with history is open for guided tours with the next available tour date being the 18 th September. The original house was built in 1678. The National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Society (NADFAS) conduct the tours with great knowledge and understanding of the build which was built in the mid 1600’s.

The mansion contains magnificent paintings in its Main Hall, Thornhill Room and its Grand Staircase therefore it is definitely worth visiting.

The tour duration is only one hour, commencing at 10am and finishing at 11am. There is a dress code requirement which states that jeans and trainers are prohibited.

Moor Park Golf Course, Rickmansworth, WD3 1QN

Moor pictures of the Moor Park Mansion are shown below:

Moor Park Mansion - History

Moor Park Mansion is the clubhouse of Moor Park Golf Club - a hidden treasure among trees and golf courses, once part of a deer park. There have been three houses on the site. The first was the grand hunting lodge of about 1617 of the 3rd Earl of Bedford and his wife Lucy Harrington, members of James I's court.

In the 1680s the Duke of Monmouth, the eldest, illegitimate son of Charles II and his Duchess, used the foundations for their own superior brick building. Today we see the Palladian mansion of the 1720s covering the Monmouth house.

In 1720 Benjamin Haskins Styles, a country squire from Wiltshire, made a fortune in London. His family had interests in the South Sea Company and they all sold their shares at an inflated price just before it fell. With his windfall he bought Moor Park from the Duchess of Monmouth, who made substantial losses herself. Her main property was Dalkeith in Scotland. No expense was spared by Styles in transforming it into his own country seat.

Sir James Thornhill drew plans for an enlarged house. Portland stone was imported from Dorset to cover the now old-fashioned brick colonnades which united the house to the service wings and an imposing portico was added which led into a Venetian style hall. For this room the grand staircase and the ground floor ceiling had to be cleared. The building work was finished before the interior decoration could start. Thornhill&rsquos team worked in the salon which had a painted ceiling by Antonio Verrio done for the Duchess of Monmouth. Canvases on the walls carried on the theme of Apollo the sun god. The hall walls were also covered by canvases but Styles disliked them and dismissed Thornhill complaining of the quality and cost of the work. The paintings were relegated to a storeroom.

Others using Thornhill&rsquos designs carried on in the main hall with a military theme but his trompe l&rsquooeil designs were made three dimensional by the best Italian plasterers and Giacomo Amiconi produced four pictures from the story of Jupiter. Styles died in 1739 and only the salon, hall and staircase were done. The main bedrooms and some for the servants were in use. Since then a succession of different owners finished the decoration and made alterations.

Capability Brown cleared the formal landscape and created new gardens for Lord Anson, circumnavigator of the globe and First Lord of the Admiralty. In 1762 Anson died in his beloved gardens.

Robert Adam designed many furnishings for Sir Lawrence Dundas, a wealthy contractor and ancestor of the Marquess of Zetland. When he died in 1781 some went to Dundas' heirs and some remained in the house until the time it ceased to be a family home. Since then much has been sold and dispersed throughout the world but the dining room ceiling with its painting of sea gods by Cipriani remains.

Thomas Bates Rous, merchant trader of the East India company and member of Lord North&rsquos party, who failed to regain a seat in Parliament, came to Moor Park in 1785 and, needing cash, demolished part of the building for its valuable stone. The colonnades went with the south west wing and the services moved to the north west.

The next owner, in 1800 was Robert Williams, founder of Williams Deacon bank now swallowed up by the Royal Bank of Scotland, succeeded by his son Robert, also in banking and property.

In 1826 began 90 years' occupation by one family - the Grosvenors. They refurbished and redecorated the house and improved the gardens. It was used as a family home in the country, first by the Marquess of Westminster, then by his third son, Robert Grosvenor, 1st Baron Ebury, and then his son, 2nd Baron Ebury, who died in 1918.

After the first World War the estate was again sold and in the 1920s Lord Leverhulme, soap manufacturer, used some of the land for housing, some for golf courses and the mansion changed from family home to country club. In 1937 the local authority, Three Rivers District Council, took it over to preserve the Green Belt and golf courses and leased it to Moor Park Golf Club.

During World War II, the Armed Forces were based in the Mansion House and it was in what is now known as the Arnhem Room, that the Battle of Arnhem was planned. The battle was depicted in the film "A Bridge Too Far" and, as the Parachute Regiment was very much involved in the action, the room is home to memorabilia from many of the actions that have involved this famous regiment.

In 1994 the freehold was bought by Moor Park Golf Club who have since invested millions in restoring the mansion to its former glory. Moor Park Mansion is now a grade I listed building.

History of the Estate

The area known as Moor Park was part of a much larger, 3000-acre private Estate, purchased by Lord Leverhulme in 1919, including the area that is now Moor Park Golf Club, together with Moor Park Mansion (the golf clubhouse) and Sandy Lodge Golf Club.

In 1922 development began of 288 acres of parkland. Architects were commissioned to design the infrastructure for the development of dwellings and to supervise the design of new houses. Roads and sewers were constructed, and houses were erected, spreading south and west from the Metropolitan Line station of Sandy Lodge Halt (in 1950 it became Moor Park station). The construction work on housing stopped at the outbreak of war, but once the restrictions on building materials were removed in 1954, the development of the Estate was resumed.

These developments were carried out through Moor Park Limited and (to a small extent) Kewferry Hill Estate Co. Ltd, both subsidiaries of Lever Brothers Limited. Moor Park Limited went into voluntary liquidation in 1957 and in the following year with the assistance and agreement of Lever Brothers, Moor Park (1958) Limited (the present Company) was formed as a management company operated on behalf of the Members. The private roads and open spaces were transferred to the Company as well as the benefits of the restrictive covenants designed to preserve the character of the Estate. The covenants are included in the deeds of all properties. The purpose of Moor Park (1958) Limited was, ‘to protect and promote the interests of the residents generally and of the Members in particular in relation to the Estate and to preserve the amenities of the Estate’.

The history of the Moor Park Estate has been published in a booklet, Moor Park, by Alan Jamieson which is available at £4.00 a copy from the Moor Park company office.

Historical Buildings

Moor Park takes its name from the large Stuart/Jacobean Mansion built in 1678/9 for James, Duke of Monmouth. The Grade I Listed Building is situated one mile from Rickmansworth town centre and was built in the Palladian style in 1720 by Sir James Thornhill. During World War II, Operation Market Garden, which resulted in the Battle of Arnhem, was planned at the Mansion.

The stunning interior includes decorations by Venetian craftsmen. The famous paintings and other historic artefacts are owned by a charitable trust, Moor Park Heritage Foundation. The trustees, drawn from both Moor Park Golf Club and the Council, ensure that these valuable items are kept safe and in good condition for the public to view. The building is owned and used as the Clubhouse by Moor Park Golf Course and is regularly open to the public. During the summer months volunteers give guided tours.

For more information, visit the Moor Park Golf Club website.

Estate History

Head south from Ludlow’s medieval Ludford Bridge on the old Leominster road and, after a mile-and-a-half, you will pass the gates for Moor Park.This substantial country house has nestled quietly on the Shropshire/Hereford border for nearly 300 years – and history has rolled quietly over and around it. And yet, like many similar country houses of England, it has an intriguing story.

Moor Park is one of a group of country houses in the Ludlow district linked by one family, the Salweys. The oldest (surviving) house is Haye Park situated in the midst of the Mortimer Forest. Colonel Richard Salwey, at one time Secretary to Cromwell, built Haye Park in the mid-1600s. Another Richard Salwey (‘of Ludlow’) built the core of the present Moor Park in about 1720 and other members of the family built Elton Hall, on the Wigmore side of the Mortimer Forest, and the Lodge at Overton, barely half-a-mile from Moor Park. At this time, the family also owned a town house in Broad Street, Ludlow.

The Salweys continued to live at Moor Park until the 1870s when the greater part of the estate, including the main house, was sold. In 1861, the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, visited Moor Park with a view to buying it as his country estate. He eventually chose Sandringham because of its proximity to London and, reputedly, greater number of pheasants! In the early 1850s, the house was let for a year to an American family from Boston and the daughter subsequently wrote an intriguing account of their visit describing Victorian life in rural England – from an outsider’s point of view.

Major Johnston Foster bought the estate in 1874 and proceeded to construct a new building around the Queen Anne house. The influences of key fashions of the day, including William Morris, de Morgan and the architect Norman Shaw, can still be seen but the original Queen Anne style was largely retained. Norman Shaw is reputed to have designed the lodge at the main gate and was certainly engaged to build the ‘new church’ in Richard’s Castle (1892) as a memorial to Major Foster.

The Fosters’ eldest daughter married a young Irish nobleman, later Lord Inchiquin. His family were the hereditary Kings of Munster and reputedly descended from Brian Boru. The wedding was a very grand affair and incorporated the whole village. The festivities lasted for four days! The Inchiquins did not live regularly at Moor Park and in 1939 moved permanently to Ireland. During the war, the house became Lancing College which had been evacuated from Sussex, and thus began Moor Park’s conversion to a school. A famous pupil of Lancing was Tom Sharpe. His novel ‘Blott on the Landscape’ is loosely based on Moor Park and the Foster family.

After the war, the mansion and immediate grounds became St. Margaret’s girls school. The Headmistress, Miss Nugent-Thorpe, or ‘auntie’ to the girls, was a famous local character and a great eccentric. The estate was sold off over a number of years, the main block of farms (over 2000 acres) being sold in 1952. However, St. Margaret’s continued until Miss Nugent-Thorpe retired in 1962. The following year, the main house and immediate parkland were bought by Hugh Watts and Derek Henderson who founded the present Moor Park School. Starting as an all-boys boarding school with nine pupils, Moor Park is now a co-educational, mixed day and boarding school for over 250 pupils ranging from 2 1/2 to 13 years.

Moor Park represents continuity for the local community. Although physically midway between the village of Richards Castle and Ludlow, the house and its families are an integral part of the village: the Salweys and one member of the Inchiquin family still live in the parish. While it is over 60 years since the house has fulfilled the role of the local manor, it still symbolises stability and permanence, quintessential features of the English rural community which are increasingly under threat from the pace of modern life.

A key feature of Moor Park today is its unique atmosphere a warmth and peace, almost informality. For a large house (there are over 80 rooms), it exudes a very domestic feel – almost like a family home. This, combined with its marvelous position in the glorious Shropshire countryside, has provided some 3,000 children with a wonderful start to their lives. A fitting tribute to a little-known but very fine country house and, perhaps, a much needed resource in the rapidly changing world of the future.

A Victorian scandal

'On a mild winter's evening in 1850, Isabella Robinson set out for a party. Her carriage drew up at 8 Royal Circus, a grand sandstone terrace in Edinburgh's new town. When Mrs Robinson joined the throng she was at once enchanted by a Mr Edward Lane, a handsome medical student ten years her junior. He was 'fascinating', she told her diary, before chastising herself for being so susceptible to a man's charms. But a wish had taken hold of her, which she was to find hard to shake. ' [From Mrs Robinson's disgrace: the private diary of a Victorian lady by Kate Summerscale (Bloomsbury, 2012) Library Ref 920ROB]

So began the obsessive and passionate account in Isabella Robinson's diary of their 'affair', as fictionalised by Kate Summerscale in her best-selling novel. The diary covered many years of their acquaintance, first in Edinburgh and later in Farnham at Moor Park, where (by then) Dr Lane had established a modern spa designed to heal the mental afflictions and physical debilities of the Victorian upper and middle-classes.

Whether the affair was real or an imaginative construct became the very public debate of the High Court and national newspapers when Isabella's husband tried to divorce her and cited the diary as evidence against Dr Lane. Kate Summerscale has skilfully reconstructed the story of Isabella, sympathetically interpreting the recorded events and imagining the emotions and motivations of those involved.

Watch the video: Local Buildings Moor Park Mansion (January 2022).