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 
Previous Record 
Back to list 
In 1451 March 22, Thomas, bishop of Bath and Wells (Thomas Beckington; Beckyngton) was granted, by Henry VI, (In year 29 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate Wells (Wells Bishops Palace and Cathedral Close)
Licence for Thomas, bishop of Bath and Wells, and his successors to execute all things specified in letters patent dated 29 March, 14 Edward III, in favour of Ralph, then bishop of Bath and Wells hitherto not executed, and to enclose the churchyard of the cathedral church of Wells arid the precinct of the houses of them and the canons of the church in the city of Wells with a stone, wall and to crenellate the same and make towers there for the greater security of the bishop and canons; so that the gate and posterns whereof mention is made in the said letters be shut and opened at the due times, as shall seem good to Thomas and his successors or to the dean and canons resident there, for surety of the peace and quiet of them and of the other ministers of the church; and mandate to the bailiffs and other officers and the citizens and ministers of the city to be intendant to the bishop and his successors herein and to commit to prison till further order any rebellious herein. By p.s. (CPR)

Granted at Westminster. Grant by privy seal etc.


Licensed in 1207, 1286, 1340 and 1451. The 1340 licence had produced the bishops palace, this licence resulted in the Penniless Porch and the other walls and gates of the close.

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 Beckington (1390-1465)
Thomas Beckington (1390-1465) Warden of New College, Oxford; keeper of the privy seal until 1444 when he became bishop and after this his government duties reduced considerably and he became a vigourous bishop.

Beckington was remembered by William Worcester as a builder, most notably in Wells where his rebus, a flaming barrel on a pole (beacon tun), is frequently to be found. Among the buildings are four embattled gates, the water supply that still runs through the city streets, and two ranges of houses, which form the north side of the market place. He also built at the monasteries of Bath and Witham and at his manor house at Banwell. (Dunning)

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.