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Steppingley 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.

The Manor of Steppingley was held by William Speke. His tenant was William, son of Reginald and the manor comprised five hides including woodland for one hundred pigs. The value had been £8 in 1066 when it was held by Aelmer, “Aelfric of Flitwick’s man”, two of Aelmer’s men were freemen who could sell their own land to whoever they could. In the wake of the Conquest these Englishmen were deprived of their lands, which were given to the Continental invaders, at which time the value of the manor had fallen to a mere quarter of its previous value, perhaps as a result of depredations from the triumphant Norman armies as they rode north and east to put down rebellions. By 1086 the value had risen to half that of 1066.

In 1086 the manor comprised fourteen villagers and two slaves - a total of sixteen. 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 64.