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Toddington 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 entry for Toddington shows that at the time of the Norman Conquest it was a substantial settlement. in 1066 before the death of King Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) it had been worth £30 and was held by Wulfward (or Wulfweard) White, a thegn in the service of Queen Emma, the wife of King Athelred, and then of Edward the Confessor's wife Queen Edith. Wulfward was a substantial landholder, although this was his only property in Bedfordshire. A small parcel of land in adjoining Chalgrave was held by an Edward White who was presumably a kinsman of Wulfward.  In 1086 Toddington was held by Ernulf de Hesding without a tenant, as was Edward's White property in Chalgrave. These were Ernulf's only Bedfordshire holdings but he also held substantial lands centred on the Cotswolds and the Mendips after the Conquest. It is likely that Ernulf fought at the Battle of Hastings and provided William the Conqueror with significant service for which he was well rewarded. He was described in the chronicle of Hyde Abbey as ""tall in stature, outstanding in activity, well-supported by possessions".

In 1086 the parish of Toddington was a very large one of 15½ hides, with sufficient land to support 30 ploughs. The lord had seven plough teams and could have supported a further three. There were 42 villages with twenty plough teams, 19 smallholders, and 19 slaves. These would all have been heads of households, and to get an idea of the total number one should probably multiply this figure by at least four, to allow for wives and children - giving a total population of about 320, a very large settlement for the time. By c.1070 the value had fallen to £25 and it was valued at the same amount in 1086. In addition to the cultivated land there was 30 carucates of meadow and woodland for 300 pigs.