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Husborne Crawley 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.

Husborne Crawley was divided into two manors in 1086. One comprised five hides and was owned by Nigel d'Aubigny, whose tenant was a man with the Anglo-Danish name of Thorgils. The manor contained one villager, seven smallholders and one slave and had been worth a hundred shillings in 1066 when nine thegns owned it. By the time d'Aubigny acquired the manor it was worth forty shillings, perhaps as a result of depredations by William I's armies moving north to quash rebellion. By 1086 the value had fallen still further to just thirty shillings.

The other manor also comprised five hides and was owned by a man named William Lovett. It contained five villagers, three smallholders and two slaves. This gives a total for Husborne Crawley of six villagers, ten smallholders and three slaves – nineteen. These men were just heads of households and so to find the true figure one must multiply this by at least four, suggesting a population of around a seventy five, a reasonable sized village for the time. This second manor had two mills which, in 1086, would have been watermills of Crawley Brook as windmills were unknown in England before the last quarter of the 12th century. These  show that the manor probably lay in the southern part of the parish, sugegsting that d'Aubigny's manor may have lain around Church End. The value in 1086 had been a hundred shillings, when it belonged to a man named Grimbald. By the time Lovett acquired it the value had fallen to thirty shillings, rising to forty by 1086.