The Domesday Survey

In the winter of 1085/6, William I met with his counsellors at Gloucester and ordered that men be sent all over England ‘to each shire’, to conduct a survey to be recorded in what later becomes known as the Domesday Book.

The purpose of the survey was to determine who owned what, both before and after the Norman conquest, and what each of the holdings was worth; thus Domesday entries were made according to property, rather than by village or settlement.

Hawkesbury and its ‘seven lands’ described in the Pershore charter of 972 do not correspond directly with Domesday entries, the abbey having been dispossessed of various estates after the conquest, including those of Hillesley, Didmarton, Oldbury-on-the-Hill, and Badminton.

The Domesday Survey

The Domesday Survey

At some time after 1086 there were further distributions of land ownership, in which Hillesley was restored to Pershore, and parts of Didmarton, Oldbury-on-the-Hill and Badminton were subdivided. The Hawkesbury entry in Domesday appears under the landholdings of St Mary of Pershore in the hundred of Grumbald’s Ash.

Land of St Mary of Pershore

In Grumbald’s Ash hundred
The same church (Pershore Abbey) holds HAWKESBURY itself. 17 hides. In lordship 5 ploughs; 18 villagers and 25 smallholders with 15 ploughs. 2 slaves and 7 freedmen. 3 mills at 19s 2d; meadow, 10 acres; woodland at 2 leagues long and 1 wide. The value was £16; now £10.

The Hawkesbury entry in the Domesday Survey

The Hawkesbury entry in the Domesday Survey

Lands described in the 972 charter are identified in Domesday as follows, showing subdivision of Didmarton, Oldbury-on-the-Hill, and Badminton estates:

Hawkesbury estates AD 972 Domesday entries AD 1086 Later tithings of Hawkesbury parish Later tithings of Badminton parish
(Hawkesbury Upton)
Hawkesbury Upton
Hilleahe (Hillesley) HILDERSLEI Hillesley
Dydimertune (Didmarton) DEDMERTONE The Waste Didmarton
Ealdanbyri (Oldbury-on-the-Hill) ALDEBERIE Saddlewood Oldbury-on-the-Hill
Badimyncgtun (Badminton) MADMINTUNE Little Badminton Great Badminton

Domesday records reveal changes in land ownership as William seeks to reward his (predominantly Norman) supporters:

Landowners of: Pre-conquest Post-conquest
Hawkesbury Pershore abbey Pershore abbey
Hillesley Aelfric Thurstan, son of Rolf
Didmarton Leofwin Durand of Gloucester
Oldbury-on-the-Hill Edric Arnulf of Hesdin
Badminton Edric Arnulf of Hesdin

The principal reason behind William’s survey of 1086 is to impose a more effective tax levy than those of previous years, and landholdings are therefore assessed and valued accordingly:



ploughs in lordship
ploughs other


woodland value then value now
Hawkesbury 17 5 15 3 10 2 x 1 leagues £16 – 0s £10 – 0s
Hillesley 1 2 2 3 8 40s 60s
Didmarton 3 3 1 0 6 30s 40s
Oldbury-on-the-Hill 5 3 5 0 6 £10 – 0s £10 – 0s
Badminton 4 2 13 0 8 £10 – 0s £10 – 0s
Totals 30 15 36 6 38 £39 – 10s £35 – 0s

Whilst the survey is not intended as a census, records are made of heads of households under various categories of status:


half villagers


other total population estimate (9)
Hawkesbury 18 0 25 2 7 52 229 – 286
Hillesley 0 5 7 8 0 20 88 – 110
Didmarton 0 0 8 4 0 12 53 – 66
Oldbury-on-the-Hill 4 0 0 9 0 1 Frenchman 14 62 – 77
Badminton 6 0 8 9 0 1 priest 24 106 – 132
Totals 28 5 48 32 7 2 122 537 – 671

Notes to Domesday tables 1 & 2:

1. The hide (hida) was a measure of land cultivation, each hide being the amount of land that a team of eight oxen could plough in an agricultural year; as an accurate measure of area, however, it is unreliable, since much depended on the type of soil and nature of the terrain to be cultivated.
2. The ploughs (carucae) of lords of the manor were counted separately from those held by smallholders, etc. Each plough included the oxen that pulled it, usually eight.
3. The 3 (water) mills (moleni) listed under the Hawkesbury entry were probably in Kilcott, although there may have been a mill at Hawkesbury at the time.
4. A villager (villanus) was a free man of a town or village, usually holding more land than a smallholder.
5. Half-villagers (villani dimidii) were probably men who held half the normal holding of the average villager in the locality; it is possible, however, that their land and services were divided between two lords.
6. A smallholder (bordarius) was a cultivator of middle status, usually having less land than a villager.
7. Slaves (servi) owed personal service to another, were un-free, and unable to move home or work or change allegiance, or to buy or sell, without permission.
8. A freedman (colibertus) was a lower class of peasant, a former slave.
9. Any estimate of population derived from Domesday entries must be very approximate, but the usual formula allows 10% for omissions, and a multiplier of between 4 and 5 to account for wives and children. Clergy were seldom included in Domesday entries (although one priest is mentioned in the Badminton entry).