The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
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In 1261 Aug 14, Robert de Sancto Johanne (Robert de St John) was granted, by Henry III, (In year 45 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate Basing (Basing House)
Grant to Robert de Sane to Johanne that he may fortify with a paling his house at Basing upon his dyke now thrown up (exstructa) there, and keep it so fortified at the king's will. (CPR)

Granted at Windsor.


This was merely for an earthwork castle, a paling on the bank then thrown up. It is not clear whether it was recently thrown up.
Quite what this licence is about is unclear. Tensions were growing between the king and his barons and they would be at war in 1264. So, perhaps this is a very rare example of a king actually exercising his technical right to control fortifications.

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;

Robert de St John (1211-1269)
Robert de St John (1211-1269) Lord Lieutenant and Seneschal of Aquitaine. Constable of Portchester Castle.

The said RORERT DE ST. JOHN, Lord of Basing, in 1254, 38 Hen. III. obtained a charter of free warren in all his demesne lands at Warnford and Chauton, in com. Southampton, Westreet, Hampton, Godenwood, Walferton, and Bernham, in com. Sussex; as also at Schisford, in com. Berks: and in 42 Henry III. had summons, among divers other great men, to be at Chester upon Monday next after the feast of St. John Baptist, well accoutred with horse and arms, to oppose the incursions of the Welsh. Likewise in 45 Hen. III. he obtained licence to fix a pale upon the bank of his moat at Basing; as also to continue it so fortified during the King's pleasure: and in 50 Hen. III. was constituted governor of the castle of Porchester, but died the next year... (Collins p. 45)

Biographical source include;

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.