Yevele, Henry de (DNB00)

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YEVELE, HENRY de (d. 1400), master-mason and architect, was son of Roger de Yevele and his wife Mariona. The name, which has been spelt and misprinted in a multitude of ways, is surmised to have been a place-name indicating connection with Yeovil, Iffley, or Yeaveley in Derbyshire; a Derbyshire family named Yeaveley was extant in the seventeenth century (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. App. pp. 28–9); there was also a manor in Surrey known as Yevele in the fourteenth century (cf. Rot. Parl. iv. 243 a). Henry de Yevele first appears in 1356, when he was one of the representatives of the masons hewers in London who agreed to the ‘regulations for the trade of masons’ (Riley, Memorials, pp. 280–2). In 1356, or before, he was director of the king's works at Westminster, and on 27 Aug. 1369 he was granted for life, with a salary of 12d. a day, the office of director of the king's works at Westminster and at the Tower. He resigned this grant on 22 Oct. 1389 on receiving the manors of Tremworth and Vannes, co. Kent (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1377–1381, p. 146). His position was one of some authority, and he was frequently empowered to impress as many masons and plasterers as he wanted, and to imprison those who refused to serve him (ib. p. 7). On other occasions he was required to provide masons to accompany the various expeditions sent to France. His business relations were extensive; he imported tiles from Flanders, plaster from Paris, and obtained stone from Purbeck, where he held the manor of Langton in 1376. In 1366 he supplied stone for the repair of Rochester Castle, and on 7 May 1378 was appointed to superintend the projected works at Southampton. In 1383–4 he was engaged in repairing the bridge over the Medway between Rochester and Stroud (ib. 1381–5, pp. 221, 235, 240–3, 308, 506), and on 22 Feb. 1384, ‘in consideration of his great services to the king,’ was granted a ratification of his disputed estate in two shops in St. Martin's-Outwich, London (ib. p. 382).

Yevele was an architect as well as a master-mason. In 1381 he designed the south aisle for the church of St. Dunstan-in-the-East (T. B. Murray, St. Dunstan-in-the-East, 1859, p. 10), and in 1395 some important alterations in Westminster Hall, introducing the corbels of Caen stone to support the roofs (Rymer, Fœdera, vii. 794; Brayley, Westminster Palace, p. 437). On 1 April in the same year he undertook to erect ‘the tomb of fine marble’ in Westminster Abbey by which Richard II commemorated himself and his deceased wife, Anne of Austria. It cost 250l., and was completed in 1397 (Neale, Westminster Abbey, ii. 107–12; Stanley, Memorials, pp. 125–6). Yevele also in 1394 erected the tomb of Cardinal Langham, which is described as ‘the oldest and most remarkable ecclesiastical monument in the abbey’ [cf. art. Langham, Simon]. These tombs and the alterations in Westminster Hall remain as proofs of Yevele's skill.

Yevele, who was continued as master-mason by Henry IV, died in 1400, and was buried in St. Mary's Chapel in the church of St. Magnus, near London Bridge, where his monument was extant in Stow's time, but was probably destroyed by the fire of 1666 (Stow, Survey, 1598, p. 167). His will, dated 25 May 1400, and enrolled in the hustings court on 28 Oct. following, is printed in R. R. Sharpe's ‘Calendar’ (ii. 346, 924), and summarised in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (1865, ii. 42–3). By it he left the bulk of his property to his second wife, Katherine, provided she remained unmarried and paid for masses to be sung in St. Magnus Church for Yevele, his first wife Margaret, her father, brothers, and other relatives and benefactors. Yevele also left bequests to the poor of St. Magnus parish.

[John Gough Nichols's account of Yevele published in the Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archæol. Soc. 1865, vol. ii., and reprinted in Gent. Mag. 1865, ii. 38–44, and in the Builder, xxiii. 409 sqq., collects many details about Yevele. See also, besides authorities cited in the text, Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. App. p. 179; Brantingham's Issue Roll; Devon's Issues of the Exchequer; Archæologia, xxix. 32–59; Palgrave's Antient Kalendars; Archæologia Cantiana (general index); Freemasons' Magazine, 1862, vi. 404; Dict. of Architecture.]

A. F. P.