James of Saint George

Architect

1230 – 1309

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77

Who was James of Saint George?

Master James of Saint George, also known as Jacques de Saint-Georges d'Espéranche, was an architect from Savoy responsible for designing many of Edward I's castles, including Conwy, Harlech and Caernarfon and Beaumaris in Anglesey.

Early records seem to indicate that his father, Master John, was a master mason who worked on castles in Savoy in the 1260s. The "St George" is believed to be a reference to the castle of Saint-Georges-d'Espéranche, located southeast of Lyon. Edward I probably met Master James of St George whilst visiting Savoy in 1273, but did not employ him until the late 1270s.

The earliest references in the English records to James of St George are found in 1278; he is referred to as an "ingeniator" and "mazun". In 1278, he was recorded as travelling to Wales, at which time four new castles were being built: Flint, Rhuddlan, Builth and Aberystwyth. The records indicate that he was master mason at Flint and Rhuddlan between 1278 and 1282.

He was appointed Master of the Royal Works in Wales around 1285, drawing a wage of 3s a day.

Harlech Castle, begun in 1283, was effectively completed in 1289. On 3 July 1290, James of St George was appointed Constable of Harlech Castle, succeeding Sir John de Bevillard who had died in August 1287. He held this position until 14 December 1293.

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Born
1230
Profession
Died
1309

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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