Edward I
Border wars
Lanercost Priory
Edward I and the Border Wars

England or Scotland?

Although King Henry II had gained control of the lands around Lanercost in 1157 (just before the foundation of the Priory) this did not mean that they had become unequivocably part of England. In 1215 the lordship of the northern counties was surrendered to Alexander II of Scotland by barons in revolt against King John. It was not until 1237 that the Treaty of York decided that they should remain part of England.

But that was not the end of it, for a period that extended to some time after the accession of King James I in 1605, the borderlands between England and Scotland remained in turmoil of one form or another. For a part of that period Lanercost Priory found itself caught up in the struggle, whether it liked it or not. For the last part of the thirteenth century and the first few years of the fourteenth century the struggle was personified, on the English side, by King Edward I (also know as longshanks and the hammer of the Scots).

Edward I's first visit

Edward's first visit to Lanercost was in September 1280, with his first wife Queen Eleanor (she of the Eleanor crosses), during a hunting trip in Inglewood.

Edward's last visit

On September 29th 1306 arrived at Lanercost for what was to prove his last and longest visit. He had been taken ill on the journey north and was in very poor health by the time that he arrived at the Priory.

A lodging was built for him on the Priory garth, largely from wood, but with stone fireplaces and chimneys, and incorporating a private chapel. It was obvious that it would be an extended stay and he was joined by Queen Margaret, for whom another dwelling was constructed. This one was more substantial and it may be that it formed the base of the pele tower that now forms part of the vicarage.

The records that survive give some indication of the size of the King's household who all had to be accomodated and fed, both to serve the King and to carry on the business of government. The household must have consisted of at least two hundred people.

There was no way in which Lanercost would have been able to provide for these numbers, supplies of food and building materials would have had to be brought in from substantial distances.

The following March Edward eventually left Lanercost, leaving the Priory in a very depleted state. Within a few days he was dead, having only travelled as far as Burgh by Sands.