The Domesday Book

This book was compiled by order of William The Conqueror containing a survey of all the lands in England, their value, owners, and other information, for tax purposes. Newchurch has several mentions in The Domesday Book, but then, it seemed, there was no settlement under that name. It was the Hundred (an area which contained 100 families) of Newchurch, which included Bilsington, Ruckinge and St. Mary in the Marsh.  At that time Kent had been divided into seven lathes, and The Hundred of Newchurch was in the lathe of Limowart. 

The lathe is now Shepway, which was divided into three Bailiwicks or legal authorities. The information that can be gleaned from the translation gives a good insight into the social status of the inhabitants as well as the owner of the land at the time. 

Translations from the texts In Blachebvrne Hundred, and in Nevcerce Hundred

Heraldus holds half a suling, less one virge. Six socmen held it of King Edward.  And it answers for as much. There is the arable land of five teams. In demesne, there are two. And thirty-one bordars have three teams. One slave there. In the time of King Edward, it was worth sixty shillings. And afterwards, thirty shillings. Now, four pounds and fifteen shillings.

And he has, besides, one denn which lay in FANE, ADAM’S Manor. There, there are two bordars rendering thirty pence. It is worth, and has always been worth, five shillings.

In Limowart Lath in Nevcerce

The BISHOP OF BAIEUX holds, in demesne, BILSVITONE. It answers for four sulings. There is the arable land of fifteen teams. In demesne, there are five. And forty-seven villans, with twenty-seven bordars, have fourteen teams. A Church there. And ten saltworks of a hundred pence. And ten acres of meadow. Wood of fifty hogs. And two fisheries of five pence. In the time of KING EDWARD it was worth ten pounds.  And afterwards, thirty pounds. Now, fifty pounds. And yet it renders seventy pounds of farm. ALNOD (Cilt) held it. In this Manor the Bishop placed three denns which remained without the division of the Earl of Ow.

A 'team' at work

A 'team' at work from the Domesday Book early translation

In Limowart Lath in Nevcerce Hundred

The same HUGH holds, in ROMNEY MARSH, one yoke. There is the arable land of………. Two socmen held one half of this land. And two villans the other. Now, there are four villans there, having one team. This land was worth, and is worth, twelve shillings. 

The same HUGH holds half a yoke, which one socman held. There are two bordars there now. This land is appraised in TITENTONE, because it is ploughed there with the demesne teams.

The Hundred and the Burgesses of DOURE, and the men of the Abbot of ST. AUGUSTINE and ESTREALATH, testify this. That the land of ETRETONE, which the Cannons of St. Martin of DOURE claim against HUGH de MONTFORT, that VLWILE WILDE held it alod, in the time of King Edward. And it answers for one yoke. And he has there one team in demesne. And five bordars with one team. And one mill of twenty shillings. It is worth, and has been worth, ten pounds.

Extract from the original Domesday Book

A copy of an extract from the original Domesday Book

A Socman discusses the land with a Clergyman

A Socman discusses the land with a Clergyman

At the time of the Domesday survey, there were 18 socmen in the Hundred of Newchurch, who are described as holding land belonging to the Monarch and to whom a proportion of his revenue was contributed. They were not serfs, for they held courts of their own and levied taxes for draining and embanking the marsh. All thieves were liable to be hanged and there was a gallows in Newchurch. It is said that it was at the roadside, where Clarklands houses are now, with the bodies being buried in the middle of the road.


demesne      a manor house with lands adjacent to it, not let out to tenants
villan      a free villager - later in C13th a serf, free in relation to all but his lord.
bordar      a villan who held his hut at his lord’s pleasure
team      a set of animals harnessed together
yoke      area of land that could be ploughed in a day
suling      approximately 200 acres
alod      ownership
hundred      a division of a county in England, originally supposed to contain a hundred families.
socman      existed in Anglo Saxon times in the Marsh villages. An inferior class of landowner who was compelled to carry out husbandry and other work for the profit of the king or some ecclesiastical dignitary.

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