Remains of medieval hunting lodge
1956 OS Sheet SE 15 SE
Site Description: Possible Deer Park and Hunting Lodge
Site Access: Footpath through Dob Park Wood but no direct access to the Lodge
Visibility: Good but distant
Micro climate: N/A
Buildings: Remnants of ruined buildings 3 storeys high.
Walkways / Gateways / Paths etc: N/a
Other man-made features: The lodge is situated within a 19th C field system marked out by dry stone wall. Some more substantial orthostatic walls of earlier date mark out an old green lane/outgang(?) leading to large open improved field.
The lodge is adjacent to an early 19th C woodland plantation.
Remains of a medieval hunting lodge within Dob Park depicted on 1851 OS and 1909 OS maps.
Today the ruins, which are on private land, can be seen across a field from a PRoW.
NYHER Scheduled monument 29152
Historic England Scheduled Monument - Ref 1015630
Dob Park is situated in Upper Wharfedale. It extends from the edge of Weston Moor to the floor of the Washburn Valley, and lies within the former medieval Manor of Weston.
Prior to the Conquest, Thorbrandr, the Anglo-Saxon lord, had '5 carucates of land to the geld and land for 5 ploughs' (c.400 acres) within this landscape. Subsequently, in c.1068, the Manor of Weston was granted to Berengar de Tosny. Domesday records 4 villeins, 1 plough, a church and priest who had 2 acres of meadow, woodland pasture half a league long and broad; the whole being a square league, i.e. 1,400 statute acres. In the 14th century, the area fell within the jurisdiction of the Duchy of Lancaster, established in 1351 by Edward III for his son John of Gaunt.
In 1204 King John granted Sir Robert le Vavasour of Hazlewood Castle, free warren in Wharfedale and permission to construct a park. Vavasour descendants settled at Weston in the middle of the 14th century and maintained a direct line until the death of William Vavasour in 1833.
Weston Hall was built between the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
After the death of William Vavasour, the property passed to his nephew whose daughter married Christopher Holdsworth Dawson, scion of a Bradford industrial family, who remain in ownership today.
The location of Dob Park is beyond the boundaries of the medieval Forest of Knaresborough, though it lies only about three miles to the west of Haverah Park, an enclosed deer park within the Forest. Although Robert de Vavasour was granted the right to empark in 1204, early maps, up to the late 18th century, and contemporary documents, reveal no evidence of formal emparkment or the presence of deer. John Cary's map of 1787 marks a shaded, enclosed (fenced) area named Dob Park, but no earlier or later maps have been found which record this feature. Cobley (c.1880) notes the existence of three medieval parks in the area: Barden, Middleton and Dob, all three being served by a lodge. He does not confirm whether any were enclosed, but notes long-standing engagement in the field sports of hunting, hawking and shooting. Cobley (1888) also refers to the historic abundance of grouse, pheasants, partridges, woodcocks, snipe, hares, rabbits and foxes in these areas. Similarly, too little evidence remains on the ground to determine whether Dob Park is a vestige of a medieval deer park – there is no evidence of a park pale for example – or whether it was in any way developed during the 18th and early19th centuries as an aesthetic feature within the wider Weston Hall country-house park. OS maps from the mid-19th century show that by this time the park had undergone enclosure to the typical dales pattern.
Dob Park is referenced many times in deeds and papers of the Vavasour family. For example, in 1661, land mortgaged to pay the debts of Thomas Vavasour included:
[the] capital messuage called Dob Park Lodge, and all that Park or great Pasture called Dob Park, the water corn mill, messuages situated in the said Park and all the common pasture for 30 beasts and 100 sheep, common of turbary throughout the Moors at Weston, 4 messuages, 1 mill, 20 acres of meadows, 30 acres of meadows, 140 acres of pasture, 80 acres of furze and heath and 60 acres of moor.
This indicates that Dob Park, whatever its medieval form, was by this period largely partitioned into farms and the land used for stock-rearing.
In 1792 'lands and tenements' at Dob Park, in the ownership of Edward Vavasour were still mortgaged to one John Calverley. Disputes in Chancery regarding the mortgaged Dob Park continued, at least, until the ownership of Christopher Holdsworth Dawson in the mid-19th century.
William Vavasour (1770-1833), 'the last squire of Weston' left diaries spanning the years 1797-1827 in which he records supervising the planting and harvesting of plantations in Dob Park and Birker Wood. Trees noted include willow, beech, walnut, elm. There are frequent references in the diaries to walking the moors with his spaniel and her pups, shooting pheasants and coursing hares. Dogs feature in various inventories suggesting that hunting and retrieving with dogs was a common sport.
Dob Park Lodge, situated on high ground overlooking the River Washburn, was built in c.1600 by Sir Mauger Vavasour, and is usually described as a 'former hunting lodge'. The building was three or four storeys high with large mullioned windows and a central oriel window. One window bears two shields which display three quoits, an armorial device of the Duchy of Lancaster. The lodge was reputedly shelled during the Civil War, and was a ruin by the time it was painted by J. M. W. Turner in 1815. From a distance the ruined building gives the appearance today of two separate towers.
(Speight (1900) refers to the existence of the 'dog-courts' of the Duchy of Lancaster, and suggests that the name 'Dob Park' could be a corruption of the term Dog Park).
Other structures in the park include a single-span bridge across the River Washburn, and the scant remains of a corn mill, built by the Vavasours, and known to have been in existence in the 17th century.
Alred, D. Washburn Valley Yesterday. Smith, Settle. 1997
Bogg, E. Lower Wharfeland. York. 1904
Cobley, F. On Foot Through Wharfedale. Walker and Sons, Otley. C.1880
Cobley, F. Walker's Guide to Wharfedale. Walker and Sons, Otley. 1888
Neesam, M. Harrogate Great Chronicle 1332-1841. Carnegie Publishing Ltd, Lancaster. 2005
Rawnsley, J. Antique Maps of Yorkshire. private publication
Speight, H. Upper Wharfedale. Elliot Stock, London. 1900
Deeds, inventories, diaries of the Vavasour family WYAS Morley, Leeds
The Domesday Book Folio Reproduction
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