The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Back to list 
In 1127 {Jan}, Archbishop William (William de Corbeil) was supposedly granted, by Henry I, (In year 26 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate Rochester (Rochester Castle)
Notification by Henry I to all his lieges of Kent: That he confirms to the church of Canterbury and to Abp. William, and all his successors, the custody and constabulary of Rochester Castle for ever, and this by the counsel of his barons; and that they may make a fort (municionem) or tower as they please.
Witnesses: Roger Bp. of Salisbury; G{eoffrey} the Chancellor; William de Tancarville; Geoffrey fitz Payn. (Johnson and Cronne)

Granted at Winchester.

Although this document has been considered by some as a licence to crenellate it is rejected as a licence.


Date from John of Worcester who puts it in the year beginning Christmas 1126. Henry was at Winchester in January (A.S.C.). The Lambeth MS. (in margin) gives 1125. The entry is written in on p. 18 of the Lambeth MS. and p. 23 is an inserted schedule. P. 18 notes 'Hujus tantum habetur pars cum sigillo' and p. 188 'Hec invenitur'. (Johnson and Cronne)

A licence to extend an existing castle rather than to build anew but has been considered a licence to crenellate. One of the earliest documented examples of royal permission to build a fortification, although Coulson calls this essentially a custody agreement. The existing great tower resulted.

Original source is;

(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;

Corbeil, William de (d. 1136)
Corbeil, William de (d. 1136), archbishop of Canterbury. A Norman by birth and endowed with the Norman desire to building in massive masonry. He also did considerable building work at Canterbury and Rochester cathedrals.

Biographical source include;

More information about licences to crenellate can be found here.

Please do inform Gatehouse if you see any errors, can add information or can otherwise help to improve this resource. Please contact Gatehouse.

Record created by Philip Davis. This record last updated on Sunday, October 4, 2015.