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Harrold 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.

Harrold was held by Countess Judith in 1086. She was the niece of William the Conqueror (1066-1087) and had been married to the Anglo-Saxon Earl Waltheof, however, he rebelled twice against William and the second time lost his head for it. Judith's tenant in Harrold was Gilbert of Blosseville and his manor contained ten hides. The manor also contained ten villagers. These men were the heads of household and so the population, once wives and children are calculated was probably something under fifty. The manor also contained woodland for two hundred pigs and a mill rated at 36/8 and two hundred eels.

In 1066 Harrold had been held by three thegns of King Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) and had been worth £20. By the time Judith acquired it the value had already sunk to £16 and this had fallen still further, to just £6 in 1086. It is suggested by historians that the reason for the general lowering of the value of manors in the area is accounted for by William I's armies coming through Bedfordshire on their way to put down rebellions in the north. They would have lived off the land and no doubt have committed certain acts of vandalism in what was, to them, still alien, even enemy, territory.