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The Anglo-Saxon King Edmund


1289/90 The Anglo-Saxon King Edmund


In a Charter of 1289/90 the Saxon King Edmund gave all his lands of Hemel Hempstead to the Bonhommes of the monastery at Ashridge.


Here the church becomes the landowner and collects the tithes.

Tithes were originally payment in kind, wheat, milk, eggs etc. that was an agreed share of the Yeoman's profits given to support the church and clergy.


These required tithes to be paid:

All things arising from the ground

All things nourished by the ground and animal produce

All produce of man's labour, fishing and milling.


1349 The Black Death.

Plague spread out from London and it is likely that many local people saw out their lives in the Pest House which was at the end of High Street Green.


1367 Lovatts End

The boundary of Hemel was slightly larger than today and seemed to include Estebrook Farm 1200 and Lovatts End 1367.


According to the Domesday Book, the word manor, from the Norman term 'mareriow', can be any place from a small farmstead to an extensive building and lands. Eastbrook is described as a farm and was also described as possibly manor.

1400 onward

The debate about how much land was still forested continues but it is suggested that from this time onward the woodland was mostly cleared and became sufficiently fertile for good crops of wheat, oats and barley. The oats provided fodder for the plough beasts. 'Maslin' a mixture of wheat and rye and 'drage' a mixture of barley and oats were used for bread making.


The wheat straw was used for plaiting and sheep were allowed into the stubble and their droppings helped to enrich the soil. Sheep still graze on the fields by the Gade.


Sometimes the peasants worked beside the monks learning from them the chants that they sang to encourae the oxen pulling the plough. These songs got handed down from father to son for generations. Ploughing was very skilled work, the furrows had to be dead straight and parallel and the skills were guarded jealously. Using a tractor to plough a field might be thought easy or unskilled but as all the processes are digitalised, ploughing a field remains highly skilled work.


 Do farmers sing to their tractors when they are ploughing in the way the old ploughmen sang to their oxen? I would guess that farmers have a lot to say to their tractors at times but it probably isn't always songs of praise!


During this time the Rector of Ashridge tried to increase the payments to the monastery. The people protested gathering the support of some knights and squires and the Rector backed down, giving the people their title deeds agreeing to a fixed amount. This written evidence of their tenancy protected the rights of the farmers. Consequently they were not tenants but free men.

In 1550 most peasants were still living in overcrowded, tiny, cramped dwellings.






King Edmund


Tithes paid to the church


Labourers tied to the landowners









1349 The Black Death




 Lovatts End




  Oats &