Chapter 2: After the Conquest - Mongeham Manors

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Chapter 2: After the Conquest
Mongeham Manors
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Population of the Village

Although the Domesday Book only records male householders it is possible to make a rough estimate of population. Some will be single men and others will have large families. If the sample is big enough it averages out at roughly four people per household. With twenty bordars on the Abbot’s manor and two bordars and eight villans on Wadard’s land we can calculate a population of roughly one hundred and twenty.

The Domesday Book gives us a good insight into the situation of the Mongeham manors just two decades after the Conquest. The Mongeham entry is just eleven lines of abbreviated Latin but contains a wealth of information. The western manor, held by the Abbot of St. Augustine’s had the church, the mill and the woodland. We can use the information provided in this entry to supplement our conjectural image of the ninth century village. Broadly speaking not much had changed in the intervening two centuries. The demesne lands, which made up at least half of the manor, were managed by a bailiff whose dwelling possibly would have been where Great Mongeham farmhouse now stands. He would supervise the work of the twenty bordars who lived in the village. Each had a holding of between one and five acres which provided subsistence living and not much more. In the Middle Ages land farmed by the lord of the manor was known as demesne land. The demesne had four plough teams and together the bordars shared another. A plough team consisted of eight oxen. Those bordars who owned an ox contributed it as required for the plough team. It they needed to they may have been allowed to use the demesne plough teams on their own land. The miller probably operated the mill on a part time basis, and he paid a  rent of sixteen shillings a year to the abbot. Some of the other bordars would have had skills such as carpentry and smithing which helped supplement their income. In the following years  spinning, weaving and baking also became more specialised.

Wadard’s manor was subordinate to Mongeham manor and he paid the Abbot thirty shillings a year. As well as two bordars there were eight villans on his land. They had land holdings of twenty or thirty acres, or even more. Villans and bordars together owned four ploughs. Gavelmen (that is those under the law of gavelkind) could buy and sell their land freely, and may have built up appreciable landholdings within the manor. Their land was inherited by ‘partible inheritance’, it was  shared between surviving sons. Often younger sons sold their share to older sons and used the money to seek their fortunes elsewhere. New manors are being carved out of the more marginal lands on the Weald of Kent, and provided opportunities for enterprising young men. Towns such as Sandwich, Canterbury and Dover were growing, and provided a magnet for young men looking for adventure.  If the landholder had no surviving male heirs, then his daughters could inherit. In most of Norman England male primogeniture was the rule, and land could only pass to a single male heir, be he an eldest son or nephew. Villans lived on scattered homesteads beyond the village but within the manor.





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