Haverah Park Top. Park and remains of John o'Gaunt's castle
Haverah Park shown
Site Description: Deer Park
Site Access: Beaver Dyke Reservoir. Footpath through site. Need to walk from Sun Inn at Norwood (1.5km) or park on Penny Pot Lane at Willow House (1km)
Micro climate: Sheltered valley, sloping 'terraced' sides
Buildings: One piece of wall preserved; rest used to make 19thC farm, now also derelict
Walkways / Gateways / Paths etc: Wide Green lane to left of site: 'Bank Slack'
Planting: 2 copses with large trees remaining; a few isolated large trees
General Condition: Poor, most of valley flooded by Beaver Dyke Reservoir
Local knowledge: None
Historic England Scheduled Monument - Ref 1020950
Haverah Park lies to the west of Harrogate, it extends to 2 ¾ miles in length and is 1 ½ mile wide. The name is thought to derive from OF haie (fence or hedge) and wra/roe (roe deer).
Haverah Park (also known as Haywra, Heywra or Haveray), was established in the mid-12th century as one of three parks set aside as game reserves and hunting chases – along with Haya and Bilton – within the Royal Forest of Knaresborough. Royal deer parks provided herbage and special protection for the 'King's deer', grazing for horses of the royal or lordly stud, and for similarly important 'oxen', and also provided for the development and subsequent management of forestry and mining within the pale. The parks also provided employment and some grazing and warrener rights for the local populace and protection within the jurisdiction of Forest Law, though penalties for infraction were severe.
The first surviving reference to the 2,250 acre emparkment of Haverah is from the Pipe Roll of 1167, compiled during the reign of Henry II, when William de Stuteville assumed lordship of the Forest. From the C13, references to the letting of forges at Haverah provide evidence for the existence of industry and small craftworks. The C13 also saw a rapid expansion of tree planting within the park, mainly of oak. Records of 1307 noted the employment of two Royal Park Keepers (parkers) whose duties included maintenance of the park pale of 'posts and boards', the protection of the natural resources of the park, and liaison with royal officers. However, some limited enclosure appears to have been carried out in the medieval period to provide meadows and pastures for livestock.
Pipe Rolls from the reign of Edward II (1307-27) note that Haverah Park was a particularly important centre for the Royal Stud, stating that the herbage of Haverah was reserved for 'the King's horses and oxen'. Nevertheless, according to Court Rolls of 1365, local tenants still had rights of pasture, with 478 beasts and 274 stirks being grazed within the pale. Sheep and pigs were not permitted, nor was the taking of holly or other winter foliage for fodder.
In 1343 Roger de Normanville was appointed custodian of 'Haverah Castle' at 10 marks a year, where his responsibilities included 'armour and victuals', as well as the care of horses. (Edward I spent four days at Haverah Park in 1292; Edward II 'rested' there along with 'privy seal, court and household' in 1307, and visited again in 1323). Probably during the reign of Edward I (1272-1307), this fortified hunting lodge, described as a 'fortress', was built within the pale, and became known later as John o' Gaunt's Castle. This was named for John, Duke of Lancaster, born in Ghent in 1340, fourth son of Edward III who was granted the Forest of Knaresborough in 1372. The structure comprised a stone tower standing on a square-shaped platform which supported a chapel and several domestic rooms. It was surrounded by a moat, the inner faces of which were revetted with stone. A gatehouse stood to the south-east where two stone chambers were built into the outer bank providing perhaps for root-crops or game storage or as an ice-house. Records of 1333-5 noted significant repairs to the castle. In 1333, for example, eight masons (4d a day for stonework) repaired the chapel roof with lead, and work was carried out to the brattice and palisade, and to the surrounding ditch described as 26 ft. broad and 12 ft. deep. Two rooms are mentioned: the 'Waerhall' and the Queen's Chamber. A bridge to the castle is also referred to.
The C16 saw the rapid decline of Haverah Park, though it had already suffered depredations in previous centuries. For example, in 1358, William de Aldeburgh's men caused serious damage when they broke in with hunting dogs and seized four bucks and 12 does. By 1364 the park was already being described as 'in poor repair'. In common with the general decline of Royal Parks, vandalism and poaching increased until in 1507 six hundred people 'with force of arms' entered the park and tore up the dyke, and destroyed hedges and defences. The following year 236 deer died of 'murrain'. Finally, in 1562, a survey reported 'our game and deer pale, lodge and all about our park . . . is in great ruin and decay' after which all the remaining deer disappeared. A survey of 1604 recorded the presence of only 410 'standing trees' due to the illicit felling and disposal of timber.
Despite the despoliation of the park, a survey of the time noted 100 acres remained in tillage, 135 in meadow and 600 in 'good pasture'. By this time four lodges had been turned into farmhouses with parcels of enclosed land. Forges continued to be mentioned throughout the C16, and evidence of textile cottage industries comes from wills, such as that of William Word who, in 1571, left 14 stones of various wools, flax, brown cloth and harden.
The three Forest parks were sold off by Charles I in 1628 and were initially purchased by the City of London. In 1639 the Ingilby family of Ripley purchased Haverah Park and remained in ownership until the late C19. In 1642 the Ingilbys built three new houses within the park. When the Forest of Knaresborough was dissolved in 1770, the pace of enclosure was significantly increased with the development of regular field patterns and access lanes typical of the Parliamentary enclosures of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. William Grainge, writing in 1871, noted that the park was then divided into 13 farms, including East End, Bank End, Long Liberty and Central House.
By this time, farming within the former park seems to be flourishing. For example, acreage returns of 1866 noted that wheat, barley, oats, beans and peas, potatoes, roots and 1096 acres of grassland were extant, with only 71 acres fallow. Livestock returns for the same year noted 100 dairy cattle, 194 'other cattle', 499 sheep and 71 pigs. Additionally, flocks of sheep from Upper Nidderdale were often over-wintered at Haverah Park during this period.
In 1869 most of Haverah Park was acquired by The Harrogate Waterworks Company (bought out by Harrogate Corporation in 1897) as a site for the creation of new reservoirs to supply the rapidly expanding population of Harrogate. Beaver Dyke (in two sections), Ten Acres, and Scargill reservoirs were constructed in the 1890s. Today, The Yorkshire Water Authority manages the site.
Another major change to Haverah Park occurred in the mid-C19 with the establishment of the Moor Park Estate at the eastern end of the site. In 1848, James Bray, an iron and brass founder and railway promoter, either built or acquired the house and 227 acres. He carried out no formal planting or landscaping, but developed copses and coverts to encourage game. The Moor Park Estate was sold in 1869 to Joseph Nussey MP, a Leeds woollen manufacturer, and then to the Williams family in 1881 who remained until 1950. Formal gardens around the house were established during these ownerships. Nowadays the mansion is divided into luxury apartments and the stables and other ancillary buildings have also been converted into dwellings.
Today, the former park offers a landscape of mixed farming with stretches of heathland as well as the attractive reservoirs and the ruins of John o' Gaunts Castle (listed Grade ll in 1929, updated 2003). It is interlaced with footpaths and is popular with ramblers.
Grainge, W. 1871 History of the Forest. London
Jennings, B. (ed.) 1970 A History of Harrogate & Knaresborough. Huddersfield: The Advertiser Press Ltd.
Jennings, B. (ed.) 1967/1983 A History of Nidderdale. York: Sessions
Neesam, M. G. (2005) Harrogate Great Chronicle 1332-1841. Lancaster: Carnegie Publishing Ltd
Speight, H. (1894) Nidderdale and the Garden of the Nidd: a Yorkshire Rhineland. London: Elliot Stock
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