Licence, for the glory of God, the honour of the cathedral church of Wells and the saints whose bodies repose therein, and the security and quiet of the canons and ministers resident there, for Ralph, bishop of Bath and Wells to build a wall round the churchyard and the precinct of the houses of him and canons, and to crenellate and make towers in such wall. He is to make doors and posterns in the wall where necessary, and to cause any streets enclosed to be diverted in such manner as shall be most to the public convenience, and the doors and posterns to be open for thoroughfare from dawn till night. By p.s. (CPR)
Radulphus, Bathon et Wellen. Episcopus ... Cimiterium ecclesiae Cathedralis Wellen. et procinctum domorum suarum et Canonicorum infra civitatem Wellen. muro lapideo circumquaque includere et murum illum kernellare batellare ac turres ibidem facere &c. (Turner and Parker)
Granted at Westminster. Grant by privy seal.
This licence was for the palace and close, but the current palace is the main result of this licence. Clearly much of this licence is about mollifying the concerns of the citizens of Wells.
Original source is;
Lyte, H.C. Maxwell (ed), 1898, Calendar of Patent Rolls (1338-40) p. 466 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;
Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses Vol. 3 (Cambridge) p. 695 Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 167 Coulson, C., 1994, 'Freedom to Crenellate by Licence - An Historiographical Revision' Nottingham Medieval Studies Vol. 38 p. 124 Coulson, Charles, 1993 Aug, 'Specimens of Freedom to Crenellate by Licence' Fortress: The castles and fortifications quarterly Vol. 18 p. 3-15 Coulson, C., 1982, 'Hierarchism in Conventual Crenellation' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 79, 94 online copy Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 part 2 p. 412 online copy
Ralph of Shrewsbury (1286-1363)
Ralph of Shrewsbury (1286-1363) elected to see in 1329. Previously a scholar and chancellor of Oxford University. Does not seem to have held political office. There seems to be little reason for this licence beyond the glorification of the see of Wells to which he was particularly dedicated.