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Goldington in 1086

Domesday Book was commissioned by William the Conqueror (1066-1087) at Christmas 1085. It was designed to show who held every piece of land in the newly conquered Kingdom of England. It was known colloquially as the Domesday Book because it was seen as being as final as the Last Judgement and as difficult to conceal things from. The book does not cover the whole country - Cumberland, Durham, Northumberland, and Westmorland were omitted and London and Winchester likewise, along with some other towns. A separate book, called Little Domesday covered the counties of Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk and, despite its name, it is actually bigger and more detailed than the Great Domesday Book containing the other counties.

Goldington had a large number of small manors, including some for Putnoe. The Bishop of Lincoln, at the time Remigius de Fécamp, had half a hide in Goldington. This holding was worth six shillings and included two villagers.

Hugh de Beauchamp also had three hides, one virgate in Goldington Highfields including seven villagers and one smallholder. There was another watermill, worth thirty shillings and one hundred eels. In 1066 nine freemen had held the land who could “grant or sell to whom they would” and it had been worth £4. This had sunk to sixty shillings when de Beauchamp acquired it, the same as in 1086. Domesday Book notes: “Ralph Tallboys had two hides and three virgates of this land in exchange for Ware”.

Three other small areas in Goldington were held by de Beauchamp. The first was of two hides, tenanted by Roger son of Theoderic. He had three villagers and two smallholders. The holding had been worth forty shillings in 1066 when it had been held by three freemen. This had sunk to twenty shillings by the time de Beauchamp got his hands on the land and had risen to thirty shillings by 1086. Domesday book notes: “Ralph Tallboys held these two hides in exchange for Ware”. The second holding was three hides, tenanted by a man named Richard, and this included five villagers and one slave. It had been worth sixty shillings when Aelmer “Askell’s man” held it, a value which had declined dramatically to ten shillings when acquired by Hugh, though it had risen to forty shillings by 1086. The reason so many Bedfordshire manors declined in value after 1066 is probably that they were targeted for depredations by Norman armies riding east and north to quell rebellion. The reason for such variation in Goldington may be that some were closer to the road than others. Again Ralph tallboys had had these three hides but exchanged them for Ware. The third of these holdings was a single hide tenanted by a man named Walter, which included two slaves. Again, it had been exchanged for Ware. In 1066 “the men of the village held this land in common” - it had been worth fifteen shillings. This had dropped to ten shillings when acquired but had risen to fifteen again by 1086.

Hugh de Beauchamp would later become Baron of Bedford. He held four hides in Putnoe without a tenant. The manor included six villagers, four smallholders and two slaves. There was a watermill (windmills would be unknown in England for another century) worth thirty shillings and one hundred eels and woodland for one hundred pigs. A thegn called Askell had held the manor in 1066 when it had been worth 40 shillings, the same value as when Hugh was given it. Unusually, the value had doubled to £4 by 1086.

In the village of Chainhalle [otherwise unknown, but seemingly roughly corresponding to all or part of modern Ravensden] de Beauchamp had another half hide “which lies in Putnoe”. This holding included two smallholders and had also been held by Askell in 1066. It was worth two shillings, the same as in 1066.

The last of the Goldington holdings recorded in 1086 was half a hide held by a royal official called Alric Wintermilk (“Wintremele”) directly from the Crown. The value was five shillings. Domesday Book says: “The present holder held it before 1066; he was King Edward’s man; he could grant to whom he would. Later he gave it to the canons of Saint Paul’s under King William and assented that they should have it altogether after his death”.

The total population recorded for Goldington, including Putnoe, was 25 villagers, 7 smallholders and 5 slaves for a total of 37. This number represents the heads of household. To get an idea of the total population it is probably necessary to multiply this figure by a factor of at least four suggesting a total population to somewhere around 150 - a large settlement for the time.