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Medieval Period



The Norman invaders knew very little about England and its economic resources. They needed to know about the country’s strengths and weaknesses if an effective system of administration was to be introduced. Clerks were sent all over the country to record how much land existed in each area, the names of known landowners, and the extent and value of economic and agricultural resources. This vast database of information was incorporated in the Book of Winchester in 1086. However, by 1179 the native population was calling it Domesday Book, a reference to the book mentioned in the Bible that would be produced at the day of judgement.


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The Domesday Book entry for TARENTFORT (Dartford) provides a snap-shot view of Dartford in 1086. The record of land-ownership is far from complete, but it is clear that Dartford was a thriving agricultural community in Norman times.

The manor of Dartford belonged to King William in 1086 and was administered by a Norman official known as a reeve. He increased the taxes paid by local people. The population of Dartford was probably between 600 and 800 individuals. Most local people worked on the land. The population was divided into three social groups villeins, 142 families, who were farm workers, bordars, 10 families, who were poor agricultural labourers; and slaves, 3 listed.

The villeins and bordars between them owned 53 teams of oxen. An additional two teams of oxen were kept for full-time work on the king’s land. Norman Dartford contained one main church, Holy Trinity, three smaller chapels, one mill (a second mill had closed some time before 1086) and two wharves on the river.

Document 1: Click the link below to view the document

A modern version of Dartford's Domesday book entry (1086)



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