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In 1367 Oct 20, Abbatissa et Conventus Shafton (Abbess Joan Formage) were granted, by Edward III, (In year 41 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate Shafton (Shaftesbury Abbey)
Licence for the abbess and convent of Shaftesbury to crenellate their church and belfry. By K. (CPR)

Abbatissa et Conventus Shafton ... ecclesiam abbatiae et campanile ejusdem ... Shaftesbury, Dors. (Turner and Parker)

Granted at Westminster. Grant by King.


A complaint was made by the abbess and the king's tenants of Shaftesbury in 1341 that many evil-doers and breakers of the peace were going about armed, robbing and killing their servants, and that no remedy had been provided hitherto. After 26 years of very stable government and a much improved economic state for the poor who survived the Black Death the crime rate is likely to have lessened and the licence, which specifically mentions the church and belfry but not the precinct wall or gatehouse, must be symbolic.
Edward III in 1365, by a charter reciting the reduction of the house by tempestuous winds, pestilences, and other adversities, so that its means barely sufficed to support the community or to meet the charges incumbent on them, granted to the prioress and nuns the custody of the temporalities of the abbey on the occasion of its next voidance by the death of Abbess Joan Formage. In 1380 the sisters were allowed, in consideration of the damage to their lands by encroachments of the sea and losses of sheep and cattle, to appropriate to themselves the church of Tisbury, the advowson of which already belonged to them. (VCH) The supposed shortage of money does not seems to have stopped building. Was the building work to the church needed because of 'tempestuous winds' and lack of maintenance due to labour shortages and a licence given, as well as the financial help from Edward III.

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;

Abbess Joan Formage, elected 1362, died 1394.

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.