Edward Hunt's Forest of Dean Miscellany

Fact, Fiction and Fantasy

Domesday Book

When Domesday book was compiled after 1084, Monmouth was held by William Fitz Baderon, Withenoc’s nephew, Withenoc himself having withdrawn from his estates and taken the vows of a monk. Fitz Baderon also held estates in Tibberton, Huntley, Longhope, Newnham, Purton and Little Lydney (later renamed St. Briavels - EH). This was part of the Conqueror’s plan for his kingdom, that his landowners should hold their estates in small separate parcels, so that each man might oversee his neighbour that the King might quickly learn of suspicious movements likely to increase individual power. William Fitz Norman held the great manor of Dene, comprising Mitcheldean, Littledean and probably Bicknor, on the same terms as his Saxon predecessors: “free of gheld for guarding the King’s forest” of which William I made good use, for it was when he was hunting in Dene that he heard of a rebellion in the North and swore a great oath that he would lay waste the rebels’ lands, a promise which he soon fearfully fulfilled.

Domesday tells us nothing of the Forest itself since it was a Royal Preserve and, as such, not included in a survey made for the purpose of levying taxation, but from details of its surrounding manors we learn that the Forest was the least important division of Gloucestershire. The county held between eight and nine thousand males, and of these only 661 lived west of the Severn. There were 251 mills in the county and only twelve of these were to be found in our own district. Of these, six were in the neighbourhood of Newent, one in Longhope, two in Awre, one in Aylburton, another in Woolaston, and the other in Little Lydney.

  The text above is from:
                "Forest Story"
                by R.J. Mansfield
                publisher: the author 1964

Edward Hunt