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In 1379 Feb 20, Thomas Orgrave was granted, by Richard II, (In year 2 of his reign) a Royal Pardon licence to crenellate hospital of St. James by Westminster (hospital of St. James by Westminster)
Pardon to Thomas Orgrave, clerk, master of the hospital of St. James by Westminster, for crenellating without licence a small tower therein for the security of its ornaments. By p.s. (CPR)

Granted at Westminster. Grant by privy seal.


Coulson (1982) calls this the 'hospital safe-deposit' and writes "Protection for charters, on which proof at law of title depended, as well as for jewels, vestments, plate and altar-vessels, was much needed." In 1995 Coulson lists this as a town house, the subsequent history of the site, rented out as a town house, makes this reasonable but I consider it to be conventual in origin and initial intent.
Crenellations of themselves do not protect anything and the protection of thick walls, strong doors and good locks did not require a licence. This is all the protection the documents are likely to really have had Although possibly a single night watchman might have been an expense the hospital could afford.

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;

Thomas Orgrave
Thomas Orgrave was a senior Treasury clerk of long service. His position was powerful and he was a specific target during the Peasants Revolt.

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.