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1086 Domesday Book

The Domesday Book was commissioned in December 1085 by William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066.  It does not record names, nor does it give accurate population statistics, but it does give us an indication of the size of Badsey, Aldington and Wickhamford.  Professor Martin, in his introduction to Domesday Book:  A Complete Translation, begins by saying, “Domesday Book is unique.  A survey of England made in 1086-87, it is unmatched in its age, its scope and the consistent details of its contents.”

The Anglo-Saxon chronicler tells us that William:  "...had much though and very deep discussion about this country - how it was occupied or with what sorts of people. Then he sent his men all over England into every shire and had them find out how many hundred hides there were, or what land and cattle the king himself had, or what dues he ought to have in twelve months. Also he had a record made of how much land his Archbishops had, and his Bishops and his Abbots and his Earls, and ... what or how much everybody had who was occupying land in England, in land or cattle, and how much money it was worth. ... there was no single hide nor a yard of land, nor indeed one ox nor one cow nor one pig which was there left out: and all these records were brought to him afterwards."

Firstly, existing information about manors, people and assets was collected. Also, each tenant-in-chief, whether bishop, abbot or baron, and each sheriff and other local official, was required to send in a list of manors and men.  To verify or correct this information, commissioners were assigned sections of England called circuits and travelled around the country asking the same. In a contemporary publication at the time, it was written:  "...They inquired what the manor was called; who held it at the time of King Edward; who holds it now; how many hides there are; how many ploughs in demesne (held by the lord) and how many belonging to the men; how many villagers; how many cottagers; how many slaves; how many freemen; how many sokemen; how much woodland; how much meadow; how much pasture; how many mills; how many fisheries; how much had been added to or taken away from the estate; what it used to be worth altogether; what it is worth now; and how much each freeman and sokeman had and has.”

The historic text of the book consists of two volumes, known as “Great Domesday”,covering 31 counties, now bound in two parts, and “Little Domesday”, now bound in three.  Worcestershire appears in Great Domesday.

Worcestershire in the Domesday Book

The information for Worcestershire begins on Folio 172 of the original manuscript; 28 landholders are listed, including the Church of Evesham and the Church of Gloucester.  The tenth largest landholder was the Church of Evesham.  At the time of the Norman Conquest, Badsey, Aldington and Wickhamford were part of the Hundred of Fishborough.  Wickhamford is also mentioned in the Gloucestershire section (Folio 162V) where 78 landholders are listed.  Wickhamford appears under Willersey where the landholder was St Mary of Evesham.  Detailed below is the exact wording as it appears in the Domesday Book (please note the glossary of terms at the end).

The land of the Church of Evesham

IN EVESHAM, the vill where the abbey is situated, are, and always were, 3 hides free [from geld].  There in demesne are 3 plough; and 27 bordars serving the court and they have 4 ploughs.  There is a mill rendering 30s, and 20 acres of meadow.  From the rent of the men dwelling there, 20s a year.  TRE it was worth 60s, and afterwards £4, now 110s.

In ‘FISHBOROUGH’ Hundred the Church of Evesham has 65 hides; of these, 12 hides are free.  In that HUNDRED lie 20 hides of ‘Doddingtree’ [Hundred]; and the 15 hides of Worcester make up the hundred.

The church itself holds LENCHWICK.  There is, and always was, 1 hide free [from geld]; and in NORTON are 7 hides.  […]  In demesne are 5 plough; and 13 villans and 11 bordars and 1 Frenchman; among them all they have 11 ploughs.  There are 10 slaves, and 2 mills rendering 22s 6d and 2,000 eels.  There are 12 acres of meadow.  TRE it was worth £76, and afterwards 110s, now £7.

In Oldberrow [War] are 12 acres of land, and there are 2 peasants-swineherds and 1 league of woodland.  It is worth 5s.

The church itself holds OFFENHAM.  There is 1 hide free [from geld] and at [Middle, North and South] LITTLETON are 6 hides, and at BRETFORTON 6 hides.  In demesne are 3 ploughs; and 25 villans with 7 ploughs; and 2 radmen and 2 Frenchmen; each of them has 1 plough.  There are 20 bordars, and 20 acres of meadow, and a mill rendering 12s 6d [...]. There are oxen for 1 plough, but they draw stone to the church.  TRE, and afterwards, it was worth £8, now £6 10s.

To this manor belongs 1 Berewick, ALDINGTON.  There is 1 hide free [from geld, belonging] to the church; and in demesne are 2 ploughs; and 5 bordars with 1 plough.  There are 4 slaves, and a mill rendering 5s.  It was and is worth 40s.

Domesday Book Offenham & Aldington
Domesday Book entry for Offenham and Aldington (courtesy Professor J J N Palmer, George Slater and

The church itself holds WICKHAMFORD.  There are 3 hides free [from geld] and at BRETFORTON 6 hides.  In demesne are 4 ploughs; and 16 villans and 7 bordars with 10 ploughs.  There is a mill rendering 40d, and 10 acres of meadow.  It was and is worth £6.

Domesday Book Wickhamford & Bretforton
Domesday Book entry for Wickhamford and Bretforton (courtesy Professor J J N Palmer, George Slater and

The church itself holds BADSEY.  There were 6½ hides TRE.  In demesne are 2 ploughs [...]; and 12 villans with 8 ploughs.  There are 4 slaves and 1 widow.  It was worth £6; now £3 10s.

Domesday Book Badsey
Domesday Book entry for Badsey (courtesy Professor J J N Palmer, George Slater and

The church itself holds [Middle, North and South] LITTLETON.  There were 7 hides TRE.  In demesne are 2 plough; and 15 villans, and 1 Frenchman with 2 villans; among them all they have 7 ploughs.  There are 3 slaves, and 8 acres of meadow.  It was worth £4 10s; now 70s.

The church itself holds CHURCH HONEYBOURNE.  There were 2½ hides TRE.  In demesne are 4 ploughs; and a priest and 10 villans and 4 bordars with 4 ploughs.  There are 4 slaves.  It was worth £3, now £4.  There are 11 acres of meadow.

The church itself holds OMBERSLEY.  This [land] was of old free for 3 hides, as the charters of the church say, but it was reckoned at 15 hides TRE, between woodland and field, and of these, 3 hides are free [from geld].  There are in demesne 5 ploughs; and 30 villans and 12 bordars and 2 priests and 2 radmen and 10 oxmen.  Among them all they have 20 ploughs.  There are 1½ fisheries rendering 2,000 eels, and 2 mills rendering 8s, and 4 acres of meadow [and] 2 leagues of woodland, and in Droitwich 1 salt-pan.  TRE, and afterwards, it was worth £18, now £16.

The land of St Mary of Evesham


…. The church itself holds WILLERSEY.  There are 8 hides, 1 at Wickhamford.  There are 3 ploughs in demesne; and 16 villans and 4 bordars and a priest with 6 ploughs.  There are 2 slaves, and little meadow.  It was worth £4; now 100s….

Domesday Wickhamford & Willersey
Domesday Book entry for Wickhamford and Willersey (courtesy Professor J J N Palmer, George Slater and

Glossary of Terms

  • Berewick - An outlying estate.
  • Bordar - A Cottager, a peasant of lower economic status than a Villan.
  • Demesne - Land “in Lordship” whose produce is devoted to the Lord rather than his tenants.
  • Frenchman - A non-noble immigrant, usually found as a peasant settler of free status.
  • Geld - The English land-tax (Danegeld, Heregeld).
  • Hide - A unit of land measurement originally intended to represent the amount of land sufficient to support a household, traditionally taken to be 120 acres (49 hectares), divided into four yardlands or virgates.  But it was in fact a measure of value and tax assessment, and (eventually) the geld land tax.
  • Mill - A rotary engine driven by water, in most cases for grinding corn.
  • Plough - In Domesday the word implies a plough team with its eight oxen and the plough itself.
  • Ploughland - The number of ploughlands may:  (1) estimate the arable capacity of an estate in terms of the number of eight-ox plough-teams needed to work it; or (2) record an assessment of the dues required from the estate.
  • Radman - Riding servant, a retainer who performed specific services, including that of riding escort to his lord.
  • Slave - A man or woman who owed personal service to another, and who was un-free, and unable to move home or work or change allegiance, to buy or to sell, without permission.
  • TRE - Tempore Regis Edwardi, the formula commonly used in Domesday Book to indicate the position “in the time of King Edward”, ie before the Conquest in 1066.
  • Villan - A Villager, a peasant of higher economic status than a Bordar and living in a village.  Notionally unfree because subject to the manorial court.
  • Virgate - One quarter of a hide, the equivalent of the English Yardland.
  • [...] indicates a gap in the manuscript text, either left blank by the scribe for an insertion to be added later, or as a result of erasure.
  • Daggers enclose the tentative translation of a passage, phrase or numeral which is obscure in the manuscript.
  • [sic] indicates a scribal error in the manuscript.

Summary for Badsey, Aldington and Wickhamford





















Men’s plough teams




Lord’s plough teams








Number of hides (geld tax)


6 at Bretforton

Number of hides (geld free)




Value to lord in 1066




Value to lord in 1086




Other resources



10 acres meadow

*  Sadly for Badsey, there is a gap in the manuscript text indicated by [...] in the translation.  It is highly likely that a figure for the number of bordars (cottagers) is missing.  Likewise, one would have expected there to have been a mention of a mill.

**  The unusual mention of a widow, the only one in the whole of Worcestershire, suggests that she was a woman of some standing in the community.

As a comparison Darby & Terrett in The Domesday Geography of Midland England, give the following figures for the rural population of Worcestershire as a whole (excluding the urban populations of Worcester, Droitwich and Pershore):











131 bondwomen, two dairymaids and one widow were not included in the above total.


  • Domesday Book:  A Complete Translation, Alecto Historical Editions, ed Dr Ann Williams, Professor G H Martin, 1992, published in Penguin Classics 2003.
  • The Domesday Geography of Midland England, ed H C Darby & I B Terrett, 2nd ed, Cambridge University Press, 1971.

Maureen Spinks, July 2019