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Shelton 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.

In 1086 Shelton, comprising five hides, was held by Remigius de Fécamp, Bishop of Lincoln, a follower of William I and supposed to be related to him in some way. His tenant was William, his steward. The manor had fourteen villagers, five smallholders and three slaves – a total of twenty two. These were heads of household so one must multiply this figure by a factor of at least four, suggesting Shelton had at least eighty inhabitants. It also had a mill, which means a watermill, as windmills were unknown in England before the last quarter of the 12th century, and woodland for four pigs. Like the land in neighbouring Dean, Shelton is unusual in that the land was worth more in 1086 (100 shillings) than in 1066 when it was worth £4. It had then belonged to a woman named Wulfeva under a lord named Burgred, who also had land in Dean. She was clearly just a tenant as “she could not grant or sell without his permission”.