Next to the Bible and Shakespeare there is no more valuable book in England than Domesday Book, which was compiled A.D. 1086, by order of King William the Conqueror. This book, in two parchment volumes, is in careful keeping at Westminster, in an iron-bound box, thrice locked. The monkish writer of the Peterborough Chronicle, who knew the Conqueror, describes in the following lines how Domesday Book was compiled:—"The King had a great council and very deep speech. Then sent he men all over England unto every shire, and caused to be ascertained how many inhabited houses were in the shire, and cattle within the land; so he caused it to be traced out that there was not a single hide, nor one yard of land, nor even—it is shame to utter, though it seemed no shame to do—was there an ox, or a cow, or a pig passed by that was not set down in the accounts, and then all these writings were brought to him."

Domesday Book was so called because it was to be held as a supreme authority in case of doom or judgment between disputing parties.

Hucknall is thus noticed in pages 288-290 of Volume I.


"WILLIAM PEVERAL'S LAND (Manor).—In Hochenale (Hucknall Torkard) two brothers had 4 bovates (E) of land (assessed) to the geld. (There is) land for half a plough (F). There 3 villeins have 1 plough.—In King Edward's time it was worth 8 shillings; now (it is worth) 4 shillings."

"RALPH DE BURUN'S LAND (Manor).—In Hochenale (Hucknall Torkard) Ulchet had 12 bovates of land (assessed) to the geld. (There is) land for 2 ploughs. There Osmund, Ralf's man, has 1 plough, and 5 villeins have 31/2 ploughs. Wood (land) for pannage (G) 1 league in length and half (a league) in breadth.—In King Edward's time it was worth 30 shillings; now it is worth 15 shillings" (H).

From this we learn that Two Brothers and Ulchet held land here in the time of King Edward the Confessor (A.D. 1042-1066) and had to pay laud tax for protection against invaders. The Saxon owner of one Hucknall manor had limited powers and privileges of judging causes, levying fines, and executing laws at Bulwell and Hempshill.

William Peveril was said to be the natural son of William the Conqueror: he held many manors besides his Hucknall possessions. The manor did not long remain in his family, for another William Peveril—probably grandson—"tried to take away the life of Ranulphe Earl of Chester, which was by poison done. After hearing of Henry the Second's fewry he fled the Realme, leaving all his castles and lordshipp to the King's disposal." The Manor of Hucknall passed first to the Greys of Sandiacre (I), and afterwards in succession to the Greenhills, Winkeburns, Gonaldstones, and Crumwells, the latter settling it (or a portion thereof) on the Prior of Beauvale (J). The Torre MSS. (kept in York Minster) states that Peveril's manor passed to the Fitzcostes (falconers at Hucknall), then to Greys of Sandiacre (K), who were holding the manor in the reign of Henry VI. (A.D. 1422-1460). Torre states that the Leeks afterwards held the property by doing Knights' service, and carrying one falcon from Michaelmas to Lent. Thoroton and Torre agree that Lancelot Curtis afterwards inherited these lands, consequently the present-day owners of the estate are Miss Jackson, of Broomhill House, and her sister, Mrs. Story, of Birtles Old Hall, Cheshire, daughters of the late Rev. Curtis Jackson.

What became of the Burun (Byron) manor described in Domesday Book is not easily traced. Some of it was given to Newstead Priory and after the time of the dissolution of monasteries by Henry VIII. the priory lands and the manor of Hucknall passed to Sir John Byron, the grant being made by King dames I. by Letters Patent under the Great Seal bearing date 30th June, A.D. 1615. The Duke of Portland's Librarian courteously furnishes (through Mr. T. Warner Turner) the further information that Lord Byron's estates were sold in February, 1774, to the Duke of Devonshire's Trustees, and the land in Hucknall Torkard so purchased by the Duke of Devonshire became the property of the Duke of Portland's family by virtue of an exchange in May, A.D. 1814.

A writer in A.D. 1727 (L) stated that the Osmund mentioned in Domesday Book "was tenant to Ralph de Burun, and was succeeded by Geoffrey Torkard," but the latter could hardly be Osmund's direct successor, because Geoffrey was living A.D. 1180.

The clearance in the forest in Domesday times, as far as can be conjectured, would stretch from Spring Bank to the Yew Tree Inn. The arable land in those times was not fenced with hedges or walls (M), but was broken up into half-acre strips a furrow long (furlong), and these were divided from each other by green balks of unploughed turf. A glance at the map of Hucknall to-day indicates the system of land tillage in Saxon and Norman times. The long narrow strips of land occupied by West Terrace and Vine Terrace, Wollaton Street, and those bordering on West Street, High Street, and Portland Road must have been set out by Saxons and Normans. The plots belonging to different occupiers were all intermingled; thus every fifth strip might be the lord's, and every tenth strip the parson's. The villagers had rights of pasture over all these scattered strips after the crops were gathered, as well as on the green commons of the manor (N).

The villeins (yeomen) paid little or no rent for their holdings to their lord, but each had to provide one or two oxen towards the four yoke usually required for each manorial team to draw the wooden plough, and give service on the manor farm two or three days a week. As years rolled on the surrounding forest was felled and a larger area of land cultivated on the three-field system. Evidence of this system exists to-day at Hucknall in the North Field, which stretched from the thoroughfare now called Spring Street to Dobb Park Farm; South Field, nowadays occupied by the Buildings; and the East Field, which was approached from Wigwam Lane and extended eastwards to the river Leen. "Once a villein always a villein," was a common saying, his chief hope of escape from serfdom being ordination at the hands of a bishop. His children were born into villeinage, and his daughters had to obtain their lord's consent before marriage. The villein sat in his lord's court of justice, and followed him to war.

The population of the hamlet at the time of Domesday Survey may be set down at about sixty.

A.D. 1105. William Peveril founded the important priory of Lenton, and gave to it some of his Papplewick land and the Church at Linby; also a husbandman to gather in tithes for the prior and monks.

A.D. 1135. King Henry I. died. This monarch granted two cart-loads of wood daily from his forest at Bestwood to feed the Priory fires at Lenton.

When Hucknall villeins of this period visited Nottingham Market, after threading their way through the forest at Bulwell and Nottingham, and entering the town through the Chapel Bar (gate), they would behold the Saxon chapmen (sellers) standing on the Long Row side of the market with their wares, and the Norman chapmen occupying the South Parade side, the conquerors and the conquered not yet living on friendly terms with each other.

A.D. 1138. Great distress was caused in Notts, during the Civil War which took place between rival claimants for the crown. Nottingham people suffered terribly, and a writer of that time says: "Thou mightest go a whole day's journey and not find a man sitting peaceably in a town, or an acre of land in cultivation. The poorer classes perished in vast numbers through famine and distress, consequent on extreme privation, and even the wealthier classes were with difficulty enabled to obtain a subsistence for their families." This widespread distress would leave its mark on the little hamlet, and the men would be called, hence to do battle in the ranks of the rivals.

A.D. 1170. Newstead Priory (o) was this year founded in Sherwood Forest by Henry II. as a token of his sorrow for the murder of hia old friend and counsellor, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was done to death before the high altar in the Cathedral by some young hotbloods, who thought they were thereby rendering the King a service.

To the Priory Henry gave land in Hucknall, Bestwood, New-stead, Papplewick town, church, and water-mill. A large portion of this beautiful building remains to this day, a precious relic of the past, and a glowing testimony to the artistic talent of its architect and executive skill of the builders.


This is a conjectural picture of a meet of falconers at the Abbey, at the time when William Fitz-coste, of Hucknall, was falconer to his Majesty. The Abbey looks different now to what it did in King John's time. The "glorious west front" of the Abbey Church as we know it replaced (about the 14th century) an earlier church. Next to the church is seen the Monk's Parlour, and over it the Prior's Parlour. Further to the right, and on the ground floor was the Great Entrance Hall (nowadays at  Newstead called the Crypt), and above it is seen the Befectory where the Brethren took their meals. Henry II. built the Abbey, but considerable addition were made to it in the reigns of Richard I., John, and Henry III. King John had a hunting lodge at Blidworth.


"There came the Lord of Huckenhale for he might not be missed For service of a bended bow, with a hawk upon his fist, Upon his own broad acres, had he but kept that day, Full soon from him, those acres fair, had surely passed away. There mounted on a palfrey, and ambling by his side Bright Newstead's reverend prior, Eustasio (P) did ride, But not till he had early sung, arrayed in alb and stole, His pious morning mass for the Second Henry's soul. Then clear and merry were the sounds that through the Forest rung, The steeds they keenly neighed, the dogs they gave full tongue."

—The Clerke of Copmanhurst.

Hugh Fitze-coste had a considerable area of land at Hucknall in return for "carrying a goss-hawk at the King's cost." His son William held a similar appointment, having to keep and train his falcon at his own house. This circumstance gives us an interesting glimpse of life here in the 13th century, for the training of falcons would be a great attraction to the few villagers then resident in the parish. None but well-to-do people were allowed to keep falcons, and if one of the birds were lost a heavy penalty was inflicted on the finder if he failed to restore it to the Sheriff, the latter having to advertise the find and keep the bird three months before he could regard it as his own, the law requiring him to suitably recompense the man who found it. John Leek, of Hucknall, was also a King's falconer. The "mews" where the falcons were kept would not be far removed from the Green. Hugh received £6 13s. 4d. per annum (Q), and ninepence per day extra when attending the King in his hunts in Sherwood Forest.

Let us pause again and picture the Hucknall of this period! The Torkard family occupied the Hall. Within a stone's throw was the humble parsonage, with its garden stretching to the churchyard wall. Little cottages or huts dotted either side of the main lane or street which to-day bears the several names of West-street, South-street, and High-street. Behind the dwellings were little gardens and orchards, stretching from West and High Streets to Derbyshire Lane on the one side, and to theConnery on the other side. In the gardens the chief vegetables were cabbage, onions, parsnips, carrots, and turnips, but not potatoes. The cottages tenanted by the villeins were "kennels of discomfort," and the labourers' hovels were worse still—dark, squalid, and dirty; some roofed with turf, others thatched with straw. The toilers slept in their working clothes, on beds of straw; no wonder, therefore, that skin diseases were common. The labourers wore a kind of tunic with a girdle of rope or leather round the waist in which each man stuck his knife— they had no covering for arm or lower part of the leg. They drank water, herb beer, and cider. After harvest was over their swine were turned into the stubble and fed on roots and acorns, the latter abounding in the woods hereabouts. The pigs were then killed and salted for winter fare. Salt was produced at the seaside by evaporation, and was costly. Sugar was unknown to the villein, but his bees gave him honey. The villagers' recreation was generally limited to poultry-keeping, digging out the wolf and badger, with an occasional hunt for the wolf. At times the wandering minstrel entered the village and broke the monotony by the play on his rude instrument, and the singing of songs, some of which were very coarse. The minstrels recited ballads relating to Robin Hood, and other romances. The training of falcons, too, would be an unfailing source of interest to the villagers, who would watch the hooding of the birds, the delicate and skilful way in which they were handled, listen to the whistles calling them to the lure for food, and gaze into mid-air when the birds were released to capture their prey.

As cloth-making was introduced in this country by Flemish weavers when William the Conqueror ruled, it is possible the fuller's mill, situate off Station Street, was being worked a.t this period, its water-wheel being turned by the waters of the Town Brook.

(D) A "Wapentake" is supposed to have been a district where men met together for "weapon-teaching " or drill.
(E) A bovate contained about 15 acres. (F) A plough contained about  120 acres.
(G) Swines' food.
(H) Victorian History of Notts., translation.
(I) The Patent Rolls say Greys held Hucknall land " from the King as of the honour of Peveril."  Some of the land at the Misk belonged to the Greys.
(J) History  and Antiquities of Various Counties, vol. ix.
(K) The heraldic arms of the Greys and Crumwells were depicted on the Parish Church windows up to the year 1677.  See engraving on page
(L)  Coxe's History and Topography of Notts., p. 81.
(M) The whole country was entirely open field before the time of Henry VIII
(N) Seebohm's Village Community, p. 77
(O) The building is familiarly called Newstead Abbey, but like the monastic institutions at Beauvale and Felley, it was governed by a prior, not by an abbot, whose office was more exalted.
(P) Eustace was Prior of Newstead in King John's reign.
(Q) Money was twelve times its present-day value.