Stevington 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.
Stevington was owned by Count Eustace of Boulogne, who had fought with William I at Hastings and whose first wife had been sister to King Edward the Confessor. The tenant was a man named Arnulf and the holding comprised three hides. There were ten villagers, eleven smallholders and two slaves - a total of twenty three heads of household; thus the population is likely to have been around a hundred people. A thegn of Edward the Confessor's, named Alfwold had held the manor in 1066 when it was worth £30. When Eustace acquired it the value had fallen to £20 and by 1086 it had dwindled still further to £14, less than half its value before the Conquest. The reason for this may be that it was traversed by William's armies as they moved north to defeat rebellion, an army of that period, particularly a foreign army, as William's was, would have despoiled the countryside for miles around to provide food for men and fodder for horses.