Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Lord's Demesne

A lord was the pivotal figure in the manorial system which emerged after 1066. His wealth came from appropriating the best land for himself and requiring the peasantry on his manor to work his land for him. You could view this as a modified form of slavery or as a kind of tax in kind. In return the peasant got sufficient land for himself and his family and a certain security of tenure. Most scholars now believe that the so-called Feudal System never quite operated in the pure form I have described and that certainly after the plague years in the middle of the 14th century the old system gave way to one based upon money.
The first invader, Maigno le Breton, established a motte and bailey castle near to the present site of Holy Trinity church and laid claim to the adjoining land for his demesne (domain). This would include the later fields, Great Dickens,  Ratcliffe Close, Fiddler's Butts, Morter Pitts, Home Park, High Park, Park Meadow, Low Park, Kiln Close and Ludwin's Closes.
Fiddler's Butts was probably used for archery practice and Francis Hyde suspects that Ratcliffe Close was also used for recreational purposes. The Morter Pitts would have been used to extract lime and there were obviously kilns on the present site of Wolverton Park House. Low Park was the original village settlement.

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