In 1285 May 18, the dean and chapter were possibly granted, by Edward I, (In year 13 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate churchyard and precinct of St Peter's, York (York Cathedral Close)
Licence for the dean and chapter of St. Peter's, York to enclose the churchyard and precinct of their church with a stone wall 12 feet high all round, for the better security of the canons and for the prevention od nocturnal incursions of thieves in the streets and lanes of the said precinct, and of night wanderers committing homicides, fornications and other evil there; the said wall to be provided with competent gates and posterns, which are to be left open from dawn to night. (CPR)
Granted at Westminster.
There is insufficient evidence to be certain about this possible licence to crenellate. (Some licences may be lost from record and others may have wrongly presumed to have been granted or may be total inventions.)
The licence makes no mention of crenellations and might not be properly be considered a licence to crenellate. A very similar licence granted to Lincoln cathedral ten days earlier. This may suggest that this licence is about maintaining the cathedral's status in regard to other cathedrals. The concerns regarding criminality should not be entirely dismissed but are probably much over stated as is suggested by placing 'homicides' and 'fornications' in the same list which, even for medieval churchmen, can not have been considered as similar wrong doing or concern.
Original source is;
Lyte, H.C. Maxwell (ed), 1893 (reprint 1971), Calendar of Patent Rolls (1281-92) p. 164 online copy
(In fact, the original source given is usually a transcription/translation
of what are precious medieval documents not readily availably. It should be
noted that these transcription/translations often date to the nineteenth or
early twentieth centuries and that unwitting bias of transcribers may affect
the translation. Care should also be taken to avoid giving modern meaning to
the medieval use of certain stock words and terms. Licentia is best translated as 'freedom to' not 'permission'.)
Significant later sources are;
Tillott, P.M. (ed), 1961, 'The Minster and its precincts' VCH Yorkshire: City of York p. 337-343 online copy Fairbank, F.R., 1895, 'The Cathedral Close, York' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 13 p. 5556 online copy
More information about licences to crenellate can be found here.
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Record created by Philip Davis. This record last updated on Sunday, October 4, 2015.