As the most ancient religious foundation in the East Riding, and possessor of the relics of its renowned saint, Beverley had enormous prestige during the Middle Ages; it was also very rich. Not only did it receive far greater revenues than its 'peer institutions' of Ripon and Southwell, but the scale of its possessions surpassed all other foundations in the north of England save for York Minster, Durham Cathedral Prior, St Mary's Abbey at York, and the two Cistercian houses of Fountains and Furness. 1 The economic success of the town in the fourteenth century is revealed by the poll-tax returns for 1377, which show that it was 'the second most populous town in Yorkshire, and the tenth largest provincial centre in England as a whole'. 2 This economic prosperity was due, to some extent, to the liberties and freedoms enjoyed by the town, which traditionally derived from John's purported relationship with Athelstan, and with successive kings of England. At the same time, the presence of John's relics in the minster provided a focus of devotion, the promotion of which drew large numbers of pilgrims to the site. The influx of visitors, with its attendant needs for victualling, accommodation, and souvenirs, would undoubtedly have influenced the economic growth of the town. 3