Bere Regis Village, Dorset
 
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King John's Reign

1190 to 1216

Now   we   come   to   perhaps   the   most   well   known   aspect   of   the   history   of   Bere   Regis,   that   of   its   association   with   King   John,   although   this   village   is   by no   means   alone   in   this   respect.   Due   to   his   somewhat   restless   nature   combined   with   a   fondness   for   hunting,   he   spent   comparatively little   time   at   Westminster,   the   official   seat   of   government,   but   continually   traveled   around   the   country,   staying   for   only   a   day   or   two   at a   time   in   any   one   of   his   royal   manor   houses.   He   was   usually   accompanied   by   his   courtiers   and   officials   together   with   all   the   official documents   and   other   items   necessary   for   conducting   state   business   entailing,   no   doubt,   a   veritable   convoy   of   horses   when   traveling from one manor to another. King   John   is   known   to   have   stayed   at   21   different   places   in   Dorset   alone,   and   Gillingham   seems   to   have   been   his   favourite   manor   in   this   county where   he   stayed   25   times.   Corfe   Castle   comes   second   with   23   visits,   Cranborne   third   with   20,   and   Bere   Regis   fourth   with   16.   He   stayed   at   Bere   on the following dates: 1204 - June 27-29. 1205 - January 7-8, June 25-27, August 18-21. 1206 - January 5-7, December 13-14. 1207 - March 28, September 4-5. 1209 - July 1, September 18. 1210 - January 13, October 3. 1213 - June 26-27, July 4-5. 1215 - February 4. 1216 - June 19-20. Manor   houses   at   this   period   consisted   not   of   one   large   building,   but   a   group   of   smaller   ones   arranged   around   a   central   court,   and   enclosed   by   a boundary   wall   and   sometimes   a   moat,   with   a   gate   house   at   the   principal   entrance.   Those   royal   manors   at   which   the   king   habitually   stayed   appear often   to   have   been   adapted   and   enlarged   to   suit   his   particular   requirements,   and   in   such   cases   they   seem   usually   to   have   been   called   'the   kings houses'.   They   comprised   a   hall,   king's   chamber,   queen's   chamber,   chapel,   cellar,   kitchen,   granary   and   stables   together   with   a   garden   and   vivarium (fish pond). These buildings were not always of stone, and the less important sections were often constructed largely in timber. As   its   name   implies,   the   site   of   King   John's   houses   at   Bere   was   Court   Green,   where   the   still   remaining   sections   of   brick   wall   on   the   south   and   east sides   mark   the   site   of   the   original   enclosing   wall.   Near   the   south   east   corner   the   lower   part   of   this   wall   is   of   stone   and   flint   which   may   well   be   part   of the   original   work.   Also   in   the   south   east   corner   is   a   sunken   area   with   an   arched   opening   and   culvert   leading   to   the   river,   and   although   this   would have   undoubtedly   been   associated   with   some   form   of   drainage   from   the   later   Turberville   house,   it   could   well   have   originated   as   the   vivarium   or fishpond referred to above. The   kings   houses   themselves   would   have   consisted   basically   of   the   Saxon   manor   house   which   Queen   Elfrida   used   in   978,   some   230   years   earlier, repaired,   altered   and   enlarged   in   1202   and   1203,   when   over   £100   was   spent   on   them,   presumably   in   readiness   for   King   John's   first   visit   in   June 1204.   This   work   must   have   been   extensive,   as   £100   was   a   very   considerable   sum   in   the   thirteenth   century-even   in   the   fifteenth   century   anyone who   could   "dispend   £IO   per   annum"   was   considered   a   wealthy   man.   In   later   times   when   the   manor   ceased   to   be   a   royal   demesne,   the   buildings reverted   to   their   original   use   as   a   manor   house   and   probably   formed   the   nucleus   of   the   later   Turberville   house   which   remained   on   the   site   until about 1800. Most   early   documents   were   rolled   for   storage,   and   the   exchequer   accounts,   kept   in   this   way   are   known   as   "pipe   rolls,"   and   state   letters   and   other documents   as   "patent   rolls"   and   "close   rolls".   The   following   extracts   are   from   the   pipe,   patent   and   close   rolls   of   King   John's   reign   relating   to   this parish: 1202-1203.   £47   13s,   2d.   (£47.66)   was   spent   on   the   king's   houses   at   Bere,   and   three   `viewers'   (surveyors)   were   appointed   to   supervise   the   work- John   de   Turberville,   Gilbert   Calin   and   Walter   de   Mora.   This   was   a   very   large   sum   in   the   thirteenth   century   and   probably   indicates   that   the   work consisted   of   extensions   to   bring   the   manor   house   up   to   the   required   standard   for   the   king's   intended   visit.   It   must   also   have   been   of   sufficient importance to warrant the appointment of three viewers. 1203-1204.   £56   17s.   7d.   (£56.88)   was   spent   on   the   king's   chamber   when   Elijah   de   Eere   and   Gilbert   Calve   were   appointed   as   viewers. Again   a   very large   sum   by   thirteenth   century   standards   particularly   as   it   seems   to   have   been   expended   on   the   king's   chamber   alone,   and   may   therefore   denote that this portion was an entirely new addition. 1204-1205.   E7   17s.   4d.   (£7.87)   was   spent   on   some   unspecified   works   to   the   king's   houses,   and   £8   13s,   lOd.   (£8.69)   on   repairs   to   the   king's houses,   stables   and   smithy.   The   Sheriff   of   Somerset   was   to   order   sheep   for   restocking   the   manor   of   Uphaven   at   the   same   price   that   they   were valued   when   restocking   "our   manor   of   Bere".   Wine   was   ordered   to   be   sent   from   Southampton-3   barrels   to   Cranborne,   8   to   Dorchester,   8   to Gillingham, 5 to Bere and 3 to Sherborne. 1205-1206.   The   king's   tailor,   Randolf   Parmentarius,   was   delayed   at   Bere   for   some   time   due   to   the   illness   of   his   horse,   and   it   cost   13s.   4d.   (£0.67) for   treatment,   board   and   lodging   and   other   expenses   for   the   horse   and   its   attendant.   The   king's   tailor   was   a   v.i.p.   and   presumably   his   horse   ranked as   a   v.i.h.   On   25   June,   1205   the   king   gave   an   order   to   the   Bailiff   of   Bere   to   purchase   a   "handsome   cross   for   placing   in   our   chapel   at   Bere",   and   the pipe   roll   gives   the   cost   of   it   as   5s.   (£0.25).   This   does   not   refer   to   any   part   of   the   parish   church,   but   to   the   private   chapel   which   formed   a   part   of   the king's   houses.   It   cost   5s.   5d.   (£G.27)   to   provide   shutters   for   the   windows   of   the   king's   houses.   The   Sheriff,   Peter   de   Schidimar   rendered   account   of "£12   of   the   issues   of   Bere   for   the   whole   year".   Wine   was   ordered   to   be   sent   from   Southampton-5   barrels   to   Bere   and   5   to   Dorchester,   and Alexander of Wareham was to be paid for the carriage of wine from Southampton to Wareham, Bere and Dorchester. 1206-1207.   Among   the   entries   relating   to   tallage,   a   form   of   tax,   is   the   item-"The   town   of   Bere   renders   account   of   7s.   4d.   (£G.37)   for   the   same". Wine   was   ordered   to   be   sent   from   Southampton-1   barrel   each   to   Cranborne,   Bere,   Powerstock   and   Gillingham,   and   2   to   Dorchester.   Whilst   the king   was   at   Bere   on   13   December,   1206,   he   wrote   orders   to   the   Sheriff   of   Southampton   instructing   him   to   procure   and   send   to   Winchester,   where the king proposed to spend Christmas, 1500 fowls, 5000 eggs, 20 oxen, 100 pigs and 100 sheep. 1207-1208.   Wine   was   ordered   to   be   sent   from   Southampton-2   barrels   to   Bere,   3   to   Gillingham,   2   to   Sherborne,   1   to   Dorchester   and   1   to Powerstock.   On   3   March,   1207   the   Sheriff   of   Dorset   was   ordered   to   arrange   to   have   a   kitchen   built   `for   our   use   at   Bere'   and   from   an   entry   in   the pipe   roll   it   would   appear   to   have   cost   30   shillings   (£1.50).   Even   by   13th   century   standards   this   must   have   been   a   relatively   low   cost   structure,   and if,   in   addition,   it   was   expected   to   have   been   completed   in   time   for   the   king's   intended   visit   on   28   March,   very   rapid   construction   would   have   been necessary. It was probably therefore, a basically timber building. Taxes   were   normally   paid,   in   the   form   of   present   day   rates,   on   fixed   items   such   as   buildings   and   land,   but   King   John   introduced   a   new   and unpopular   tax   whereby   a   thirteenth   of   the   value   of   all   movable   goods   had   to   be   paid.   It   is   known   that   £20,000   was   raised   in   this   way   and   was   made over   to   the   king   whilst   he   was   staying   at   Bere.   In   a   letter   dated   2   July   1207,   written   from   Westminster   and   addressed   to   the   Barons   of   the Exchequer, he directed "account to be taken of £20,000 paid by Geoffrey fitz Peter, our justiciary, into our chamber at Bere". It   was   at   one   time   thought   that   the   payment   of   this   sum   had   some   particular   connection   with   this   parish,   and   that   some   of   it   was   used   for   the building   of   the   south   aisle   and   arcade   of   the   church,   where   the   capitals   bear   symbols   which   it   was   thought   were   associated   with   King   John. Apart from   the   fact   that   the   arcade   in   question   dates   from   about   1140,   some   sixty   years   before   the   beginning   of   King   John's   reign,   it   is   purely   incidental that this particular piece of state business was transacted whilst he was staying at Bere.
© 2003, Bere Regis Village Website.
Bere Regis Village
Bere Regis Village Website

King John's Reign

1190 to 1216

Now   we   come   to   perhaps   the   most   well   known   aspect   of   the   history   of Bere   Regis,   that   of   its   association   with   King   John,   although   this   village is    by    no    means    alone    in    this    respect.    Due    to    his somewhat   restless   nature   combined   with   a   fondness   for hunting,      he      spent      comparatively      little      time      at Westminster,     the     official     seat     of     government,     but continually   traveled   around   the   country,   staying   for   only a   day   or   two   at   a   time   in   any   one   of   his   royal   manor   houses.   He   was usually   accompanied   by   his   courtiers   and   officials   together   with   all   the official   documents   and   other   items   necessary   for   conducting   state business    entailing,    no    doubt,    a    veritable    convoy    of    horses    when traveling from one manor to another. King   John   is   known   to   have   stayed   at   21   different   places   in   Dorset alone,   and   Gillingham   seems   to   have   been   his   favourite   manor   in   this county   where   he   stayed   25   times.   Corfe   Castle   comes   second   with   23 visits,   Cranborne   third   with   20,   and   Bere   Regis   fourth   with   16.   He stayed at Bere on the following dates: 1204 - June 27-29. 1205 - January 7-8, June 25-27, August 18-21. 1206 - January 5-7, December 13-14. 1207 - March 28, September 4-5. 1209 - July 1, September 18. 1210 - January 13, October 3. 1213 - June 26-27, July 4-5. 1215 - February 4. 1216 - June 19-20. Manor   houses   at   this   period   consisted   not   of   one   large   building,   but   a group   of   smaller   ones   arranged   around   a   central   court,   and   enclosed by   a   boundary   wall   and   sometimes   a   moat,   with   a   gate   house   at   the principal   entrance.   Those   royal   manors   at   which   the   king   habitually stayed   appear   often   to   have   been   adapted   and   enlarged   to   suit   his particular   requirements,   and   in   such   cases   they   seem   usually   to   have been   called   'the   kings   houses'. They   comprised   a   hall,   king's   chamber, queen's   chamber,   chapel,   cellar,   kitchen,   granary   and   stables   together with   a   garden   and   vivarium   (fish   pond).   These   buildings   were   not always     of     stone,     and     the     less     important     sections     were     often constructed largely in timber. As   its   name   implies,   the   site   of   King   John's   houses   at   Bere   was   Court Green,   where   the   still   remaining   sections   of   brick   wall   on   the   south and   east   sides   mark   the   site   of   the   original   enclosing   wall.   Near   the south   east   corner   the   lower   part   of   this   wall   is   of   stone   and   flint   which may   well   be   part   of   the   original   work. Also   in   the   south   east   corner   is   a sunken   area   with   an   arched   opening   and   culvert   leading   to   the   river, and   although   this   would   have   undoubtedly   been   associated   with   some form   of   drainage   from   the   later   Turberville   house,   it   could   well   have originated as the vivarium or fishpond referred to above. The   kings   houses   themselves   would   have   consisted   basically   of   the Saxon   manor   house   which   Queen   Elfrida   used   in   978,   some   230 years   earlier,   repaired,   altered   and   enlarged   in   1202   and   1203,   when over    £100    was    spent    on    them,    presumably    in    readiness    for    King John's   first   visit   in   June   1204. This   work   must   have   been   extensive,   as £100   was   a   very   considerable   sum   in   the   thirteenth   century-even   in the   fifteenth   century   anyone   who   could   "dispend   £IO   per   annum"   was considered   a   wealthy   man.   In   later   times   when   the   manor   ceased   to be   a   royal   demesne,   the   buildings   reverted   to   their   original   use   as   a manor   house   and   probably   formed   the   nucleus   of   the   later   Turberville house which remained on the site until about 1800. Most   early   documents   were   rolled   for   storage,   and   the   exchequer accounts,   kept   in   this   way   are   known   as   "pipe   rolls,"   and   state   letters and   other   documents   as   "patent   rolls"   and   "close   rolls".   The   following extracts   are   from   the   pipe,   patent   and   close   rolls   of   King   John's   reign relating to this parish: 1202-1203.   £47   13s,   2d.   (£47.66)   was   spent   on   the   king's   houses   at Bere,   and   three   `viewers'   (surveyors)   were   appointed   to   supervise   the work-John   de   Turberville,   Gilbert   Calin   and   Walter   de   Mora.   This   was a   very   large   sum   in   the   thirteenth   century   and   probably   indicates   that the   work   consisted   of   extensions   to   bring   the   manor   house   up   to   the required   standard   for   the   king's   intended   visit.   It   must   also   have   been of sufficient importance to warrant the appointment of three viewers. 1203-1204.   £56   17s.   7d.   (£56.88)   was   spent   on   the   king's   chamber when   Elijah   de   Eere   and   Gilbert   Calve   were   appointed   as   viewers. Again   a   very   large   sum   by   thirteenth   century   standards   particularly   as it   seems   to   have   been   expended   on   the   king's   chamber   alone,   and may therefore denote that this portion was an entirely new addition. 1204-1205.   E7   17s.   4d.   (£7.87)   was   spent   on   some   unspecified   works to   the   king's   houses,   and   £8   13s,   lOd.   (£8.69)   on   repairs   to   the   king's houses,   stables   and   smithy.   The   Sheriff   of   Somerset   was   to   order sheep   for   restocking   the   manor   of   Uphaven   at   the   same   price   that they   were   valued   when   restocking   "our   manor   of   Bere".   Wine   was ordered   to   be   sent   from   Southampton-3   barrels   to   Cranborne,   8   to Dorchester, 8 to Gillingham, 5 to Bere and 3 to Sherborne. 1205-1206.   The   king's   tailor,   Randolf   Parmentarius,   was   delayed   at Bere   for   some   time   due   to   the   illness   of   his   horse,   and   it   cost   13s.   4d. (£0.67)   for   treatment,   board   and   lodging   and   other   expenses   for   the horse   and   its   attendant.   The   king's   tailor   was   a   v.i.p.   and   presumably his   horse   ranked   as   a   v.i.h.   On   25   June,   1205   the   king   gave   an   order to   the   Bailiff   of   Bere   to   purchase   a   "handsome   cross   for   placing   in   our chapel   at   Bere",   and   the   pipe   roll   gives   the   cost   of   it   as   5s.   (£0.25). This   does   not   refer   to   any   part   of   the   parish   church,   but   to   the   private chapel    which    formed    a    part    of    the    king's    houses.    It    cost    5s.    5d. (£G.27)   to   provide   shutters   for   the   windows   of   the   king's   houses.   The Sheriff,   Peter   de   Schidimar   rendered   account   of   "£12   of   the   issues   of Bere    for    the    whole    year".    Wine    was    ordered    to    be    sent    from Southampton-5   barrels   to   Bere   and   5   to   Dorchester,   and Alexander   of Wareham   was   to   be   paid   for   the   carriage   of   wine   from   Southampton   to Wareham, Bere and Dorchester. 1206-1207.   Among   the   entries   relating   to   tallage,   a   form   of   tax,   is   the item-"The   town   of   Bere   renders   account   of   7s.   4d.   (£G.37)   for   the same".   Wine   was   ordered   to   be   sent   from   Southampton-1   barrel   each to   Cranborne,   Bere,   Powerstock   and   Gillingham,   and   2   to   Dorchester. Whilst   the   king   was   at   Bere   on   13   December,   1206,   he   wrote   orders   to the   Sheriff   of   Southampton   instructing   him   to   procure   and   send   to Winchester,   where   the   king   proposed   to   spend   Christmas,   1500   fowls, 5000 eggs, 20 oxen, 100 pigs and 100 sheep. 1207-1208.   Wine   was   ordered   to   be   sent   from   Southampton-2   barrels to   Bere,   3   to   Gillingham,   2   to   Sherborne,   1   to   Dorchester   and   1   to Powerstock.   On   3   March,   1207   the   Sheriff   of   Dorset   was   ordered   to arrange   to   have   a   kitchen   built   `for   our   use   at   Bere'   and   from   an   entry in   the   pipe   roll   it   would   appear   to   have   cost   30   shillings   (£1.50).   Even by   13th   century   standards   this   must   have   been   a   relatively   low   cost structure,   and   if,   in   addition,   it   was   expected   to   have   been   completed in    time    for    the    king's    intended    visit    on    28    March,    very    rapid construction   would   have   been   necessary.   It   was   probably   therefore,   a basically timber building. Taxes   were   normally   paid,   in   the   form   of   present   day   rates,   on   fixed items   such   as   buildings   and   land,   but   King   John   introduced   a   new   and unpopular   tax   whereby   a   thirteenth   of   the   value   of   all   movable   goods had   to   be   paid.   It   is   known   that   £20,000   was   raised   in   this   way   and was   made   over   to   the   king   whilst   he   was   staying   at   Bere.   In   a   letter dated   2   July   1207,   written   from   Westminster   and   addressed   to   the Barons   of   the   Exchequer,   he   directed   "account   to   be   taken   of   £20,000 paid by Geoffrey fitz Peter, our justiciary, into our chamber at Bere". It   was   at   one   time   thought   that   the   payment   of   this   sum   had   some particular   connection   with   this   parish,   and   that   some   of   it   was   used   for the   building   of   the   south   aisle   and   arcade   of   the   church,   where   the capitals   bear   symbols   which   it   was   thought   were   associated   with   King John. Apart   from   the   fact   that   the   arcade   in   question   dates   from   about 1140,   some   sixty   years   before   the   beginning   of   King   John's   reign,   it   is purely    incidental    that    this    particular    piece    of    state    business    was transacted whilst he was staying at Bere.