Domesday Survey 1066


David Cummings

Christleton Local History Group

Christleton Local History Group has served the Parish of Christleton for the last 40 years, and has published three main books about Village History as well as, trails, pamphlets and a very successful DVD. We have also contributed monthly to the Parish Magazine, but following the demise of the magazine, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit some of the topics we’ve covered in the past, so that new readers may learn about the story of the village through the centuries.


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in the Domesday Book

In 1066 William the Conqueror commissioned the Domesday Survey, which included a record of the state of the country on the eve of the Norman Invasion in 1066. Chester was the only town of any size in the county, with 508houses, and it was the only borough with burgesses. After the arrival of William and his army in Chester in 1070, the city in 1086 was described as being greatly wasted and a half of the houses were unoccupied.

In 1066 “Cristetone” (Christleton) was held by Edwin, Earl of Mercia, and was worth £6. After the death of Harold at the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror offered his daughter to Edwin, the Earl of Mercia, to be his wife, if he would support him. Flattered by such an offer Edwin rendered very important services to William, but was rejected when he applied for his reward. Stung by this he joined his brother Morcar, Earl of Northumbria, in a northern rebellion. This was crushed by the Normans who then deprived the rebels of all their possessions.


So Christleton passed out of the hands of Edwin, to William the Conqueror who was busy rewarding his followers with tracts of land. Hugh Lupus the first Norman Earl of Chester and an ancestor of the Grosvenor Family of Eaton, was rewarded with this land, and gave Christleton to his son* Robert Fitzhugh, Baron of Malpas.
*Some authorities say “illegitimate son”

The actual quotation from the Domesday Book is

The same Robert Fitzhugh holds Christleton. Earl Edwin held it. There are seven hides rateable to the gelt. The land is fourteen carucates. In the demesne is one carucate and there are two ancillae and twelve villeines and five bordars and two reeves with eight carucates. There is a mill of twelve shillings, and there are two radmans, of this manor Randle holds of Robert two hides and renders him twelve pence. In King Edwards time, the worth six pounds, now three pounds. He (the Earl) found it waste. It had a wood two leagues long and one broad

Even today the meanings of the words used are open to debate, but it is generally accepted that a “hide” represented the amount of land that could be ploughed in a year to support a family. An alternative name was a “carucate”. The “desmene” was the land kept by the lord for his own use. “Ancillae” were maid servants, “Villein” were unfree tenants who were above the status of slaves. “Bordars” were of villein status but were elected by their fellows to organise the business of the manor, while “radmen” seem to have worked the roads, possibly with horses.

In William II’s reign Hugh Lupus persuaded Anselm an Abbot from Normandy to come to Chester to assist him to found a monastery. He did so by converting St Werburgh’s church into an Abbey, and the canons into monks. Following this development we learn that Robert (son of Hugh Lupus), besides other gifts, granted to the monastery of St Werburgh “The chapel of Christentuna, and the glebe of the chapel, the land of a rustic and the rustic himself, a certain mill at Stamford and the site of the mill itself and the cottage of Ordricus, and Ordricus himself and a certain field adjoining to that cottage. Years later Letitia de Malpas, Robert’s daughter, handed over the village of Christleton and Parva Christentuna (Littleton) to the new monastery in Chester. Christleton Church therefore did not fall into the category of appropriated churches and became a rectory.

When the list of the recorded clergy of Christleton begins in 1215, Robert is recorded as being the first Parson, with John as a clerk. It seems that at that time Christleton was paying a pension of £1 to the Abbey, and in 1280 it is recorded that the Abbot of St Werburgh needed to defend himself against Isabel, grand-daughter of Robert Hugh, and her husband Sir Philip Burnell. Isabel was of the opinion that the monks had “by practices somewhat removed from heavenly” got possession of property in Christleton and Littleton. She and her husband were determined to get it back again. They took preliminary steps for sueing the monks, but they made a” payment out of court” of £200, and had their possession confirmed. It is an indication of how important Christleton was, that in the payment of life pensions paid to the Abbot of Chester, it was required to pay £1.3s 0d which was the third highest levied after Chester St Mary’s £2-13s-4d and West Kirby £2-13s-4d.

Christleton “The History of a Cheshire Parish” Pub. 1979 Christleton Local History Group
Christleton “2000Years of History” Pub. 2000 Christleton Local History Group

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