Early C19 formal garden for a country house of 1828-33 by Anthony Salvin built for Henry Preston, surrounded by a park.
Moreby Hall was erected on the site of an earlier house (see illustration by Samuel Buck in his Yorkshire Sketchbook of c 1720), first owned by the Lawson family, and later bought by William Preston in the late C18. By 1772 the earlier house stood in a park near the River Ouse to the north of Stillingfleet (VCH; Jefferys, 1772). The present Moreby Hall was built for the Preston family, well-known merchants and bankers from Leeds, in 1828-33 by the architect Anthony Salvin (1799-1881). Moreby Hall was Salvin's second country house, (the first one being Mamhead (qv) in Teignbridge, Devon), designed shortly after he had gone to live in London where he worked for many years with his brother-in-law, the landscape gardener William Andrews Nesfield, and the architects John L Pearson and R Norman Shaw.
As part of the early C19 rebuilding of Moreby Hall, the existing parkland was probably extended, and terraced gardens were laid out containing topiary, summerhouses, a rosery, a bowling green and a serpentine lake (OS 1st edition surveyed 1846). The layout of the gardens has been attributed to John Burr, head gardener at the time (The Ladies' Magazine of Gardening, 1841).
Moreby Hall was owned by the Preston family until the late C20, when the estate was sold and the Prestons moved to a new house built in the walled garden in 1985-6. At present (1999) the site is in multiple private ownership.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Moreby Hall is situated in the parish of Stillingfleet, to the south of York. The c 39ha site is situated between the River Ouse (with the Moreby Ings) to the west and the B1222 to the east, and is mainly surrounded by farmland. To the south, the site is bounded by a track which runs from the B1222 in a westerly direction to Home Farm. The gardens, situated to the west of the Hall, are terraced and slope down towards the River Ouse. The park to the east of the Hall lies on level ground.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main entrance to the site lies in the north corner of the park. It is flanked by early C19 gates and piers (listed grade II), and immediately to the south is a private dwelling, called Moreby Lodge, which was built in the late C20. The entrance gives access to a carriage drive which leads through the park in a south-westerly direction to the courtyard to the north of the Hall. The second entrance lies further south along the B1222. This gives access to a drive which runs in northerly direction to the Hall and the servants' block.
Moreby Hall (listed grade II*) is situated in the western part of the site. The two-storey Hall is constructed of sandstone ashlar and has a Welsh slate roof. The Hall has a square ground plan, with a tower attached to the north-east. To the east is a square service block with a central courtyard linked to the Hall by a service corridor. The south front has three gables, and the east has two projecting gabled bays. The central bay of the south front has an open loggia which leads to a balustraded terrace with central steps leading to the garden below. The link between the Hall and the service block has on the south side a conservatory, partly installed in the late C20. The north front has two projecting gabled bays, with a central doorway and a tripartite oriel window above. The moulded plinth continues to form a balustrade with two urns flanking the steps that lead from the courtyard to the main entrance of the Hall.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The gardens and pleasure grounds are laid out around the Hall, along the west boundary of the site. Immediately north of the Hall is a square courtyard, with in the north-east corner an early C19 urn (listed grade II). Along the north boundary of the courtyard is a shrubbery, now (1999) overgrown, which contains the remains of an icehouse. From the north-west corner of the courtyard, steps lead down to a raised walk that runs along the west front of the Hall in a southerly direction. To the north, this walk is screened by an L-shaped castellated wall, with a porch that leads to a flight of steps that run down into the garden below. Halfway along the terrace a walk, called the Western Avenue, leads down into the lower garden to the west. The Western Avenue is flanked by mature yews, which were formerly clipped in various geometrical shapes, forming an arch (CL 1907).
The lower garden to the west is now (1999) laid out to lawn and is divided into various sunken garden compartments, which are screened by mature yews and shrubs. These are the remains of a formally laid out rosery, which is indicated on the OS 1st edition. Along the east side of the garden compartments runs a walk which is flanked by mature yews and trees and a set of urns (listed grade II). The walk leads southwards to another flight of steps, which leads to a serpentine pond surrounded by shrubs, now (1999) much overgrown. The pond is flanked to the east and west by a walk, and to its far south stands a gothic folly of c 1832 (listed grade II), probably incorporating C14 windows taken from York Minster after the fire of 1829.
Immediately south of the Hall is a balustraded terrace with two central steps which lead to the bowling green below (now, 1999, no longer used). The terrace has crazy paving and contains various circular and square beds. The steps and balustrade are decorated with six pairs of early C19 garden urns on pedestals (listed grade II). From the terrace there are extensive views over the bowling green and the parkland beyond it. The square-shaped bowling green is enclosed by clipped yews and surrounded by a walk. To the far south it is divided from the park by a low brick wall.
The park, which is laid out along the eastern boundary of the site, is level and contains various mature trees, mostly dating from the early to mid C19. Since the park is not surrounded by a tree belt, there are fine views into it from the B1222. In the south-west corner of the park, immediately north of Home Farm, is a caravan site.
The OS 1st edition, surveyed in 1846, suggests that the parkland was extended to the south when the Hall was built. The parkland immediately to the south of the Hall is called the Old Park and has a long avenue. The parkland south of Home Farm is called The Park and was probably added to the Old Park in the early C19. Since the early C20, that part of the early C19 park that is situated to the south of Home Farm has been in agricultural use and lies outside the site here registered.
The rectangular walled kitchen garden, now (1999) called The Gardens, is situated in the south-east corner of the site. It contains a late C20 private dwelling with garden, and to its south-east is a group of early to mid C19 estate cottages. The stables are situated immediately west of The Gardens.
The Ladies' Magazine of Gardening (1841), pp 361-2
Country Life, 21 (16 February 1907), pp 234-43
C Holme, The gardens of England in the Northern counties (1911)
Yorkshire Life, (September 1970), pp 45-7
J Allibone, Anthony Salvin, Pioneer of Gothic Revival Architecture (1987), pp 28-33
N Pevsner and D Neave, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire, York and the East Riding (2nd edn 1995), pp 713-14
T Jefferys, Map of Yorkshire, 1772
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1846, published 1851
2nd edition surveyed 1906, published 1910
The former house at Moreby, near Stillingfleet, c 1720 (S Buck, Yorkshire Sketchbook)
Various copies of watercolours showing Moreby Hall, early C20 (private collection)
Description written: November 1999
Register Inspector: FDM
Edited: May 2000