Thorncote 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.
Thorncote is not recorded in Domesday Book but the survey does record a number of holdings in Beeston. Three of these were held by Eudo the Steward, also known as Eudo, son of Hubert. One of these holdings was tenanted by a man named Norman and comprised four hides, four villagers and three slaves. These seven people were heads of households and so to find the true population, including wives and children, it is necessary to multiply this figure by a factor of a least four, suggesting around thirty people.
The holding also had a mill worth 50 shillings before 1066, 40 shillings when acquired. 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.
Norman had been the owner of this land in 1066 and Eudo had evidently dispossessed him. The Victoria County History states that this holding later became Beeston alias Beeston, Thornecote and Hatch Manor
Another holding in Beeston was in the hands of William Speke or Espec. This comprised 3½ virgates and was held without a tenant. "Young Leofwin", a thegn of King Edward the Confessor, had held this land in 1066 when it had been worth 20 shillings. This value had been halved by the time Speke acquired the land and remained at that level in 1086. The Victoria County History states that this land lay mostly at Thorncote.