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The Chalgrave Charter of 926

The following text is from a charter of King Æthelstan of Chalgrave and Tebworth from the year 926. Sadly the document is not held Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record Service but the translation below appears in Bedfordshire Historical Record Society Volume V of 1919 in a piece by the first county archivist, George Herbert Fowler.

In the name of our Lord Jhesu Christ … I Æthelstan, King(1) of the Anglo-Saxons … will give to my faithful thegn Ealdred the land of five hides which is called Cealhgræfan and Teobbanwyrþe which he bought from the heathen(2) with his own money's worth, that is, ten pounds between gold and silver, at the order of King Eadward(3) and of Duke Æþered besides with other earls and thegns … granting liberty of inheritance, to have and to hold so long as he shall live, and after his death to whatever heirs he may will to give it at his pleasure.

These are the boundaries of the said land.

The Bounds of Chelegrave. Where the dyke shoots on to Watling Street, then along Watling Street till you come to the ford(4), then along the brook to the second ford. The from the ford up to the spring, and thence to the dell, and then from the dell to the dyke, and from the dyke to the second dyke to the brook, and from the brook to Cynburg well. then along the dyke to Eastcotan(5), thence to the Old Brook, and thence along the rithe(6). Then straight to the Highway(7) and along the Highway to the dyke, and along the dyke to Watling Street.

And let the gift of the said land be free of every wordly tax except war-faring and the building of castle and bridge, for fitting money which I have taken from him, that is a hundred and fifty mancuses(8) of pure gold.

But if any man, goaded by shamelessness, shall have tried to break or change or lessen this bounteous gift, let him know himself at that day of the great doom, when the poles and hinges and foundations of the earth with the lowest hiding-places of hell shake with fear, on which the deed and thought of every man shall lie open, whether it be good or evil that he shall have wrought, unless he shall first have atoned and made good.

(1) He was king of the Anglo-Saxons from 924 and of all England from 927.

(2) This heathen must have been a Dane. The boundary between Anglo-Saxon England and that part ruled by the Danes, known as the Danelaw lay a few miles east roughly along the line of the A6.

(3) King Edward the Elder (899-924), son of King Alfred. He won a victory over the Danes at Bedford in 920.

(4) of Clipstone Brook just north of today's road to Woburn.

(5) "east cottages"

(6) a small brook

(7) The road from Houghton Regis to Toddington.

(8) a gold coin weighing about 4.25 grammes and worth thirty silver pennies.