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In 1375 Nov 10, Abbas et Conventus Abbatiae de Selby were granted, by Edward III, (In year 49 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate Abbatiae de Selby (Selby Abbey)
Licence for the abbot and convent of Selby to crenellate their church, cloister and manse. By p.s. and for mark paid in the hanaper. (CPR)

Abbas et Conventus Abbatiae de Selby ... ecclesiam, claustrum et mansum Abbatiae de ... Selby, Ebor. (Turner and Parker)

Granted at Westminster. Grant by privy seal and for half a mark paid in the hanaper.


Obtained just four weeks after the abbot had procured, for 40s. an oyer et terminer to investigate an alleged violent intimidation of his men, so severe 'that they dared not leave the abbey' (CPR 1374-77 p. 219-20 Dated Oct. 11). Selby Abbey lies in the town of Selby, overlooking the marketplace. Clearly local problems concerned with pasture for cattle and the rights of the Abbey as local landlord (including control of the market), part of a more widespread anti-cleric feeling, were part of the motivation for obtaining this licence. However, it is also clear from the Commission of oyer and terminer the threat to the Abbot and his men was to them outside the Abbey something fortifying the Abbey would, of itself, do nothing to resolve. They were safe within the Abbey without further fortification. The function of the licence to crenellate, and of any (probably additional) crenellations put on the Abbey buildings was to re-assert cleric dominion, backed up with royal authority, not to dominate the local population with a fortress.

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;

John de Shirburn
The abbot was John de Shirburn (abbot from 1369- d. 1408).

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.