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Flitwick 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.

Flitwick was one of two manors in Bedfordshire held by William Lovett in 1086, the other being Husborne Crawley. Flitwick comprised five hides and contained three villagers and seven smallholders. The manor also contained woodland for one hundred pigs and a watermill - windmills would be unknown in England for another century. In 1066, when it had been held by Alwin, a thegn of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066), the manor had been worth £8. By the time Lovett acquired it the value had sunk to sixty shillings and had decreased still further to fifty shillings by 1086. The Normans were conquerors, who felt themselves in enemy territory and had contempt for the native population. The reason so many Bedfordshire manors fell in value between 1066 and 1086 is assumed to be the fact that they were unfortunate to lie on the path of Norman armies moving north and east to crush rebellions.

Priestley was regarded as a separate settlement at Domesday. Nigel de Albini had a manor of one and a half hides there, held from him by a man named Thorgils. the manor also contained woodland for forty pigs and one villager and four smallholders. In 1066 it had been worth sixty shillings when held by five thegns. The value had sunk to twenty shillings by the time de Albini acquired it, the value it retained in 1086. A reeve of the king also held a hide at Priestley with woodland for twenty pigs. It had been worth thirty shillings in 1066 when owned by four thrgns, but by 1066 the value was just five shillings, even when acquired by the reeve it had been worth ten.