Pyrgo Park is a park at Havering-atte-Bower in the London Borough of Havering, in North East London, England. It is the site of the former Pirgo Palace, built before 1540 and demolished by 1814; and of Pyrgo House, built 1852, which lasted less than a century.
Purgore is first recorded in 1490 and probably means 'triangular plot of land where pear trees grow'. It is formed from Old English 'pyrige' (peartree) and 'gāra' (a triangular piece of land). Pergore Park is first recorded in 1544 and had become Pergo Park by 1805.
Pirgo, spelt Portegore by Henry VIII’s officials, was a royal residence of King Henry VIII, from 1541, situated nearby the royal palace of Havering in the liberty of Havering-atte-Bower. Providing a pleasing position on a gentle ridge barely twenty easy miles from London with wide views westwards, the Havering area had more than six centuries of association with royalty. King Edward the Confessor (1003-1066) is said to have been disturbed there at his devotions by nightingales and prayed successfully for their banishment from Havering Park. Havering Palace continued to be used by successive monarchs until 1638 and Havering Park remained with the Crown until 1828.
King Henry VIII and Pirgo
About 1536 the King's Steward, Sir Brian Tuke, constructed a smaller park at Pirgo, north-east of Havering village and the King made it his personal property. The Steward was allowed to continue living at Pirgo until about 1541.
Succession to the Crown
The King is said to have summoned his estranged daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, to his new country house at Pirgo in 1542 and being pleased with them he made the decision to restore them to the succession to the Throne.
Royal gift to Lord John Grey
On 24 April 1559, a few months after her accession to the throne, hearing his plea of poverty, Queen Elizabeth gave the manor with its royal residence to her second cousin, Lord John Grey, uncle of Lady Jane Grey.
Owners and residents after Henry VIII
- In 1559 Elizabeth I granted Pirgo to Lord John Grey, only surviving son of the 2nd Marquess of Dorset and uncle of Lady Jane Grey. Lord John Grey was the sole surviving brother of:
Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk executed in 1554, Lord Edward Grey and Lord Thomas Grey executed in 1555.
Lord John Grey, although reprieved from a death sentence was deprived of succeeding to the forfeited marquessate;
- Sir Thomas Cheek who died in 1659. The manor passed through various descendants but ultimately to his granddaughter Ann, daughter of Thomas Cheeke, and wife of ;
- Sir Thomas Tipping. His younger daughter, Katherine, married;
- Thomas Archer. In 1790 the trustees of their four granddaughters sold Pirgo to Edward R. Howe.
The first available description dates from 1594 when the former royal residence was described as "a fair house", shown on a map dated about 25 years later as a large gabled-building. In 1670 taxes were paid on 30 hearths. The site, on which terracing of the gardens was still visible after World War I, was northwest of the surviving farm buildings and was partly excavated in 1972.
The Pirgo estate included a domestic chapel housing Grey family tombs, and memorials to several members of the Cheke (Cheek) family. All the Cheke remains were removed to Havering-atte-Bower Parish Church circa 1768.
- . . . a tomb in the chapel of the mansion house at Pirgo in Essex; on which was a knight kneeling with four sons, his lady kneeling with four daughters, and many coats and quarterings; and bearing on the verge this inscription:
- "Here under lyeth buried the lorde John . . . Grey, Knyght (fourth son of) the lorde Thomas Grey mar . . . . . ques Dorcet, who dyed the xix daye of November 1564; and dame Mary his wyfe, daughter of Sir Anthony Browne, Knyght of the Garter, mr of the horse, and con'seler to Kynge Henry ye VIII. Dame Mary dyed . . . .
- from Collins' Peerage of England, published 1812.
Between about 1771 and 1778 the Archer family demolished the chapel and the wings of Pirgo House. It continued in use for a short time, but the remainder of the former royal residence seems to have been demolished by about 1814.
In 1852 a new mansion was built on the site. The house and 600 acres (2.4 km2) of neighbouring farms were sold to Albert Fytche in 1873. The house came within the metropolitan green belt and was demolished by 1941.
House built 1852