York Minster College

Richard III planned a magnificent college at York Minster.
Richard III planned a magnificent college at York Minster.
© Patrick Gibbs

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Description

The Minster college was a remarkable size, providing for one hundred priests to pray for the souls of the king and royal family. This would have dwarfed, for example, the college of the House of York at Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire. This college, which had been re-founded by Edward IV in 1462 and became the mausoleum of Richard's father in 1476, supported a master and twelve chaplains.

Work began on the Minster college probably in August 1484 and may have been a reaction to the death a few months earlier of the king's son, Edward, at Middleham. Six altars were constructed at which chaplains would pray for the king and his family, with one carpenter paid thirty shillings for sixty days work on the altars.

A collegiate building to house the chaplains was also established, but was pulled down soon after Richard's death in 1485. Within ten years timber from the building had already been reused, as a debt for this wood was paid in the will of Archdeacon William Poteman in 1493. The college was dedicated to the worship of God, the Virgin Mary, Saint George and Saint Ninian, saints favoured by Richard III.

Sources

Richard III's appointment of 100 priests at York Minster, probably August 1484

"'To be in the Churche of York the king hath ordeigned C prestes and to sing there in the worship of god oure lady seint George and seint Nynyan' "

British Library Harley MS 433 f. 72, printed in R. Horrox and P.W. Hammond (eds.) British Library Harleian Manuscript 433 (Upminster, 1979-82) vol 1 p. 201

Licence to create officers for levying rents and duties relating to the 100 priests, 1484

"'A licence to Master Robert Bothe dean of Yorke Thome Portingtone Tresourer William Pottemane & John Hert Chanons of York to kepe courte letes etc & make officers for the leveying of almanere Rentes and duties apperteignyng to the C prestes at Yorke'"

British Library Harley MS 433 f. 88v, printed in R. Horrox and P.W. Hammond (eds.) British Library Harleian Manuscript 433 (Upminster, 1979-82) vol 1 p. 242

Chancery clerk ordered to deliver letters patent regarding the 100 priests, December 1484-January 1485

"'A prive seale to the Clerc of the hanaper for to delyver alle suche lettres patentes as apperteigne to the C prestes of Yorke unto Master John Harringtone without fyne or fee' "

British Library Harley MS 433 f. 88v, printed in R. Horrox and P.W. Hammond (eds.) British Library Harleian Manuscript 433 (Upminster, 1979-82) vol 1 p. 247

Collection of money for the priests of York, early 1485

"'Maister Robert Bothe dean of Yorke maister Portingtone and other have a prive seale to the Chaunceller of the duchie of Lancastre to sufre theim to lever gadre and Receyve alle suche Rentes of lyvelood as the kinge hathe graunted of his said duchie for the prestes of Yorke'"

British Library Harley MS 433 f. 88v, printed in R. Horrox and P.W. Hammond (eds.) British Library Harleian Manuscript 433 (Upminster, 1979-82) vol 1 p. 267

Money received for the making of an altar, 1485

"'De 6l 13s 4d receptis de magistro Johanne Hert ad facturam altarium in ecclesia Cath. pro capellanis domini Regis' ['£6 13s 4d received from master John Hert to make the altar in the cathedral church for the chaplains of the lord king']"

J. Raine (ed.) 'The Fabric Rolls of York Minster', Surtees Society 35 (1858), p. 86

Costs of making six altars for the king's chaplains

"'Custus circa facturam sex altarium pro capellanis domini Regis. Pro lvj waynscotes pro dictis altaribus, meremio, sarracione dictorum meremii et waycotes, et pro operacione les crestes pro dictis altaribus. seris, clavibus, les tyers et slotes pro eisdem altaribus, 4l. 17s. 4d. In vadio Jacobi Whynfeld, carpentarii, operantis, circa facturam dictorum altarium per sexaginta dies, 30s. In vadiis sex aliorum carpentariorum, 6l. 7s. 6d. Et petit allocacionem pro xxvj waynscotes, meremio et clavis pro duobus de dictis altaribus oneratis in ultimo compoto, titulo vendicio stauri, in dorso ejusdem, et non allocatis, 24s. 8d. Summa 13l. 19s. 6d.' [The cost of making six altars for the chaplains of the King. For 56 wainscots for the said altars, timber, sawing of the said timber and wainscots, and for creating ornamentation for the said altar. Locks, keys, ironwork and bolts for the same altars, £4 17s. 4d. In pledge to James Whynfeld, carpenter, for working on the making of the said altar for sixty days, 30s. Pledges to six other carpenters, £6 7s. 6d. Claims and allowances for 26 wainscots, timber and keys for two of the said altars charged in the final accounts, called stock claims, on the back of the same, and not included, 24s. 8d. Total £13 19s. 6d.]"

J. Raine (ed.) 'The Fabric Rolls of York Minster', Surtees Society 35 (1858), p. 87

Will of William Poteman, proved 1 May 1493

"Communi eccl. praedictae xx marcas praeter xx marcas quas debeo pro meremio quod fuit de domo constructa per regem Ricardum Tertium pro cantaristis per eundem fundandis. [To the common chest of the aforesaid church 20 marks besides the 20 marks that I owe for timber that was from the house constructed by king Richard III for the chantry priests of his foundation.]"

J. Raine (ed.) 'Testamenta Eboracensia' Surtees Society 4 (1869) p. 79

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