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Totternhoe 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.

Domesday Book records two separate holdings in Totternhoe in 1086. One was owned by Walter of Flanders, whose tenant was Osbert. The manor contained fifteen hides before 1066 "but after King William came to England it did not answer, except for ten hides. The men who held and hold the five hides kept and keep all the King's customary dues and tribute". Clearly these five hides were held by these men directly from the Crown. Osbert's holding had twenty two villagers, two smallholders and four slaves. There were three mills, valued at 10 shillings and 8 pence and woodland for a hundred and fifty pigs. The mills would have been watermills, perhaps somewhere in the vicinity of today's Lane Farm, near which watermills were recorded later in history as well as at or near the later Doolittle Mill (itself now just in the parish of Eaton Bray). In 1066, when it was held by a thegn of King Edward the Confessor's called Leofnoth, the value had been £16, this fell to £10 when Walter acquired it and £8 in 1086.

William the Chamberlain owned another seven hides, less one virgate, and had no tenant. The holding contained four villagers, four smallholders and four slaves. There was one mill, valued at three shillings and woodland for twenty pigs. The value in 1066 was £8, which had fallen to 50 shillings when William acquired it and was at the same value in 1086. The reason for this drop in value may be that William I's armies had predated on it when they moved north to quell rebellion. In 1066 it had been owned by Leofwin, "Earl Waltheof's man". William the Chamberlain claimed a further two hides which Leofwin had owned  "but the Bishop of Bayeux took them away from him by force and gave them to his chamberlain Aethelwulf".

Earl Waltheof was Earl of Northumbria, an Anglo-Saxon noble who William the Conqueror allowed to keep his lands and title. He married William's niece Judith. After two rebellions against William he was executed in 1076. The Bishop of Bayeux was Odo, William the Conqueror's half brother and the man for whom the Bayeux Tapestry was made. He acquired vast estates in England, chiefly in East Anglia. He lost some of these following a trial for fraud in 1076 and he fell from power and was imprisoned. Losing the remainder of his English estates, in 1082. He was released by the dying William I and rebelled against his successor William II in 1088 (favouring William I's eldest son Robert Curthose for king). He was banished to Normandy and died on his way to crusade in Palestine in 1097.