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  Grovehill, Piccotts End, Woodhall Farm and Phoenix

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1066 The Normans Arrived - And Stayed

At the Battle of Hastings, in 1066, William the Conqueror killed Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon King of England and became the first Norman King of England.



In 1085 he commissioned the Domesday Book to assess the extent of his own posessions and the value for taxation of the estates of his tenants in chief.

Taxes paid to the Crown


'The Normans built Berkhamsted Castle'. Actually it was built by local conscrips on the site of an old Saxon fort.

The King required the men of the castle to provide thousands of bows. Ash was the wood of preference for bows and the countryside would have been scoured for ash poles. Planting and coppicing would have taken place on a large scale. Ash grows rapidly from seed and is quick to mature.


It is possible that he also demanded local men to join his army or that serving the new Norman king looked a more attractive proposition than farming.


Most people lived in shelters that were little more than a hut built of rough timber or wattle and daub and had open hearths.


As soon as a man had made a little money by farming he built himself a better house and began to employ others to work the fields. His land was called a manor and he became lord of the manor.


The early history of Grovehill continues to be about farms and farming.

Who creates the riches? Who does the land belong to?


Fields were cleared and given names. Many of these field names have been carried forward as New Town street names, though not necessarily in the same place.


Most people now lived in shelters that were little more than a hut built of planks or wattle & daub with an open hearth.


1140 the building of St Mary's Church was begun, probably on the site of a Saxon church, using clunch, stone and flint with tiles from the Roman ruins.


The books say that the Normans built the church!  What do you think?


Click on this link to see a map of the farms from 1100



The earliest medieval settlement recorded was Wudehall in 1198 when the woods, lands pastures and rent was part of a grant to St Giles Priory. Later the Benedictine nunnery of St-Giles-in-the-Wood at Flaunden was said to hold the 'Manor of Woodle' when it was dissolved. The site was around the present Woodhall Farm.


Later Agnells Farm, first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1085. In 1200 it is written that Agnells was in a clearing surrounded by woods. The site of the present farm of St Agnells represents the manor of Aignels.


Estebrook Farm also dated 1200 was outside the present boundary.

I have been told that 'Eastbroc' is mentioned in grants made by Queen Eleanor and confirmed by King John in 1199 and 1204: 'Two acres in Estbroc and Thirty acres of assort in the wood of Eastbroc.' The word 'assort' was probably 'assart' a parcel of forested land cleared of trees for use in agriculture and other purposes.


In 1442 the manors called Westhay and Estebrokehay were settled on Richard de la Hay and his wife Margaret. In 1510 Edward de la Hay left these to his two daughters, Mary and Lucy in two portions. The word 'brook' comes from the Old English word 'broc' meaning an enclosure.


Estebrokehay fell to his daughter Mary of Goodese. Edward de la Hay, who died very wealthy is buried is buried in Berkhamsted church.


Pycot farm is dated at 1204. The site of the present farm of St Agnells represents the manor of Aignels.


These were manors, (or estates) owned by a lord and the labourers  were obliged to spend some time working for the lord of the manor in order to be allowed to live on the manor. This tied the labourer to the manor, a custom that was later changed when the labourer exchanged his labour for money.  


13th century documents, which are among the earliest that exist, show the spread of hamlets and farms upwards along the easier slopes of the chalk and clay.




Now tithes were paid to the king at Berkhamsted Castle



The Domesday Book was compiled in an effort to make sure that everyone paid their taxes.































Tithe paid to the Benedictine nunnery





Estebrook 1200


















Pycot 1204



 Tithe paid to the lord of the manor




 Tithe paid to the Bonhommes  of Ashridge


































Link to Map of Farms