The Moot Hall, or Mote House"The Moot Hall, or Mote House, as these buildings were some times called, the name being synonymous with Town Hall, stood in the old Market Place opposite the Old Ship Inn" (White, Dukery Records, 1904).

Whatever may have been the merits and achievements of the successive owners and residents of Worksop thus far, the deeds of the worthy Knight who now possessed it eclipsed them all. Summoned to Parliament in 1409 as ‘Johanne Talbot de Furnyvall,’ he became, in 1412, Lord Justice of Ireland, and subsequently Lord-Lieutenant of the same kingdom. He served under Henry V. in France, and was with that monarch when he died. During the reign of Henry VI. he was the most famous and successful general in command of the English troops. Shakespeare terms him the ‘great Alcides of the fields,’ and he was certainly the bravest and most heroic of all the English military leaders who were serving in the wars with France. He suffered a reverse in 1429, when his forces were routed by Joan of Arc, and he was taken prisoner. The French liberated him in exchange for one of their own officers, who had been captured by the English, and he immediately threw himself into the war again with renewed vigour. To narrate all his military exploits would fill a volume. He participated in at least forty battles, and his activity only closed with his death, which took place in 1453, from a wound in the thigh. In recognition of his services he was loaded with honours by a grateful monarch. He was created Earl of Shrewsbury in 1442 and made Lord of at least half a dozen other places, his honoured name being known wherever the fame of English prowess had penetrated.

‘Then shall our names,
Familiar in their mouths as household words—
Harry the King, Bedford, and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloster
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.’

The famous Earl was not buried at Worksop, but his wife, Matilda, was interred there in St. Mary’s Chapel. His son John, who succeeded as second Earl, was Lord Treasurer, and fell at the battle of Northampton in 1460, fighting for the Lancastrian cause. He was carried to Worksop and buried near the tomb of his mother. ‘Here,’ says Mr. Hunter, the historian, ‘the funeral obsequies of the Lords of Hallamshire were performed, and here their bodies one by one were returned to the earth out of which they were taken. Before the Reformation might be seen a fine series of monuments, ranged on each side the choir, immediately before the altar, and in the Lady Chapel, commencing with the founder and ending with the third Earl of Shrewsbury in the time of Edward the Fourth. What a noble study of the monumental architecture of this kingdom! What a deep impression must they have communicated of the existence of heroes of former ages!’

Of the fourth Earl we need not say much; but we may mention that he was visited at Worksop, in 1530, by Cardinal Wolsey, a reference to which may be found in Cavendish’s life of that famous prelate.

It was during the lifetime of the fifth Earl that the abbey was shorn of all its greatness. The place that had sheltered the Austin Canons for more than four centuries was seized by Henry VIII. in the 33rd year of his reign, and the whole of the site and precincts granted to Francis, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his heirs for ever. The property was to be held of the King in capite by the service of the tenth part of a Knight’s fee, and also by the service of finding the King a right hand glove at the coronation, and of supporting the royal arm that day as long as it should hold the sceptre. A rent of £23 was also to be paid. The Prior, Thomas Stokkes, who lost his position through the surrender of the abbey to the King, received a pension of £50 a year. The total revenues of the priory amounted to £302 6s. 10d., and the clear income to £239 15s. 5d. Thus enriched with additional funds, the Earls of Shrews-bury kept up great state at the Manor House, and entertained within it many distinguished personages.

Manor Lodge
Manor Lodge, possibly built as a hunting lodge in the 16th century. (A. Nicholson, 2000).

The sixth Earl had entrusted to him the custody of the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots, and towards the summer of 1583 he brought her to Worksop for a change of air, of which, in her weak state, she stood much in need. Thirty orange-trees were planted while she was there—tradition says with her hands. Shrewsbury applied for permission for her to walk in the adjacent forest of Sherwood, but it does not appear that license was given for these sylvan rambles. From Worksop she was taken to Sheffield, as appears by the following letter, addressed to Elizabeth Pierrepont, the youthful granddaughter of the Countess of Shrewsbury:


‘I have received your letter and good tokens, for which I thank you. I am very glad you are so well. Remain with your father and mother this season if willing to keep you, for the air and the weather are so trying here that I already begin to feel the change of the temperature from that of Worssop, where I did not walk much, not being allowed the command of my legs. Commend me to your father and mother very affectionately, also to your sister and all I know, and to all who know me there. I have your black silk robe made, and it shall be sent to you as soon as I receive the trimmings, for which I wrote to London. This is all I can write to you now, except to send you as many blessings as there are days in the year, praying God to extend His arm over you and yours for ever. In haste, this 13th day of September.

‘Your very affectionate mistress and best friend,


‘Endorsed to my beloved bed-fellow, Bess Pierpont.’

In 1603, Mary’s son, James I., proceeding from Scotland to London to ascend the throne, stayed at the mansion which had sheltered his ill-fated mother, and was sumptuously entertained by the seventh Earl. A contemporary chronicler says, ‘After his Majesty’s short repast at Worsop his Majesty rides forward, but by the way, in the parke, he was somewhat stayed, for there appeared a number of huntsmen all in green, the chief of which, with a wood-man’s speech, did welcome him, offering his Majesty to show him some game which he gladly condescended to see, and with a traine set he hunted a good space, very much delighted; at last he went into the house where he was so nobly received, with superfluitie of all things, that still every entertainment seemed to exceed the other.’ The same writer assures us that there was ‘excellent and soulravishing music,’ and that the King remained at Worksop all night. On leaving the next day after breakfast such a store of provisions remained behind that it was left open for any man that would to come and take. The stepmother of this hospitable Earl was the famous Bess of Hardwick, who died immensely rich in 1607.

After his first visit James appears to have paid several others, while his ill-fated son, Charles I., was feasted here in 1633, as appears from a letter in the State Papers, wherein Secretary Coke describes his Majesty as being most cheerful, enjoying the love and dutiful demonstrations of his subjects in every place. The same year the Lord Treasurer was invalided at Worksop, where he was attended by Mr. Harvey.

On the demise of the seventh Earl his extensive estates were divided between his three daughters, and on the decease of the two elder without issue, the baronies of Talbot and Furnival vested in Alathea, who was married to Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, Surrey, and Norfolk. In this way Worksop once more saw a change of ownership, the manor becoming the property of the illustrious Dukes of Norfolk, in whose hands it remained until 1839, when it was sold to the Duke of Newcastle.