views updated

Yeveley or Yevele, Henry (c.1320/30–1400). English master-mason, possibly hailing from Yeaveley, Derbys. He may have learned his craft at one of the many building-projects of the Midlands, perhaps Lichfield Cathedral, Staffs., but was in London in 1353 and rose rapidly in fame and fortune. Around 1357 he was employed by Edward, the Black Prince (1330–76), at Kennington Manor, and worked at St Alban's Abbey, Herts., around the same time. By 1360 he was active at Westminster Palace, the Tower of London, Queenborough Castle, Kent (1361–7), and various other castles and properties of the Crown. In the 1370s, for example, he worked with Sponlee and Wynford on the fortifications at Southampton.

He designed a number of funerary monuments, including the magnificent tomb (1374–8—destroyed) for John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (1340–99), and his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster (d. 1369), which stood in old St Paul's Cathedral, London. It appears to have been enclosed in a very grand canopied chantry-chapel. He was also responsible for the noble tomb of the Black Prince, Canterbury Cathedral, Kent (1375–6). When King Edward III (reigned 1327–77) died, it was most likely Yeveley who designed his monument (1386) in Westminster Abbey, closely resembling the tombs of King Richard II (reigned 1377–1400) and Cardinal-Archbishop Langham (d. 1376), also in the Abbey, which we know were by him. He may also have designed the canopied tomb of Prior Rahere (d. 1144) in the Church of St Bartholomew-the-Great, Smithfield, London, or his work may have influenced the finished artefact.

In the early 1370s he probably designed the great Neville screen of Caen stone for Durham Cathedral, which was made in London and shipped north. Stylistically it is similar to work at John of Gaunt's destroyed chantry-chapel mentioned above. James Wyatt wanted to remove the Neville screen in the 1790s. By 1378 Yeveley had developed his connections with Canterbury, designing the West Gate of the city, and in 1381 was involved with Wynford as a consultant for some of William of Wykeham's architectural projects. As he had begun building the Charterhouse in London in 1371, he was well placed to advise on collegiate establishments, and it seems likely he was consulted about the design of New College, Oxford. By 1385 he was spending much time in Canterbury, where he designed the great nave of the Cathedral (c.1380–1405), one of the most beautifully proportioned of any in England. While in Kent he may have provided designs for Meopham Church (1381–96), the gate-house of Saltwood Castle (c.1383), and the new Church and College at Maidstone (founded 1395).

At Westminster Abbey he worked on the nave, generally following the (by then rather old-fashioned) lines set down by Henry of Reyns. In 1394 he commenced work on Westminster Hall, one of the grandest secular rooms of the Middle Ages, with a great timber roof by Hugh Herland (completed 1400). He also acted as a consultant on numerous works, including Leeds Castle, Kent, Rochester Castle, Kent, Winchester Castle, Hants. (with Wynford and Herland), Orford harbour, Suffolk, and many other places.

Yeveley was an important medieval architect (some have called him the Wren of C14, and Dr Harvey said he was the ‘greatest English architect’), whose output was prodigious. Fortunate in having the patronage of Kings Edward III and Richard II, he was able to bring English Perp. to maturity. As a designer of funerary architecture he was in the premier division.


Crossley (1921);
J. Harvey (1946, 1948, 1952, 1978, 1987)