Headington history: Descriptions

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Headington in the Domesday Book in 1086

Here is the entry for Headington from the Domesday Book of 1086:

Domesday Book

It translates as follows, sentence by sentence. The abbreviations in the original Latin above have been spelt out in full below, but not the roman numerals:


Ibi sunt X hidae.

There are ten hides there.1


In dominio [?modo] VI carucae
et XX villani cum XXIIII bordariis habent XIIII carucas ibi.

In lordship six ploughs and 20 villagers with 24 bordage tenants2 have 14 ploughs there.3


II molini de L solidis
V piscariae de XX solidis.

Two mills4 at 50 shillings
and five fisheries5 at 20 shillings.


De pratis et pasculis IIII librae.
De annona anni VIII librae.

From meadows and pastures £4.
From the year’s corn £8.


De helvewecha XXX solidi.
De Circieto X solidi et VI denarii.

From “half-week” 30s.
From church tax 10s 6d.


De aliis consuetudinibus
C solidi et XXV denarii.

From other customary dues
100s and 25d.


Hidas rethit sibi. Duorum HUNDREDORUM soca pertinentes huic manerio Ricard de Curci de XVI

The Jurisdiction (soca or soke) of two HUNDREDS6 belongs to this manor: Richard de Courcy withdraws for himself [the Jurisdiction] of 16 hides.


In toto reddit LX libras […] numeru'.

In total it pays £60 [a year at] face value.7


1. A hide was a land unit, reckoned as 120 acres; so Headington in 1086 was measured at 1,200 acres.

2. Bordars or bordage tenants were peasants with more land than a cottager, but less than a villager.

3. The Open Domesday Project describes a total population of 44 as being very large.

4. Headington in 1086 stretched down to the River Cherwell, and one of its two mills was the King's Mill on the River Cherwell.

5. For the fisheries, see the caveat below.

6. Headington was the head of the Bullingdon Hundred (also spelt Buleden, Bulesdon, or Bulledon) In 1086 this comprised (as well as the Royal Vill of Headington itself) Ambrosden, Arncot, Little Baldon, Marsh Baldon, Toot Baldon, Beckley, Chippinghurst, Cowley, Cuddesdon, Wood Eaton, Elsfield, Forest Hill, Garsington, Holton, Horspath, Iffley, Merton, Nuneham Courtenay, Piddington, Sandford-on-Thames, Shotover, Stanton St John, Thornley, Waterperry, and Woodperry, as well as Holywell and Walton in the city of Oxford. The second Hundred over which Headington has jurisdiction is probably the Soterlawa Hundred (also spelt Soterlawa), which is last found in official records in 1219.

7. The value of the Manor of Headington at £60 was equal to that of Oxford itself.

The Manor of Headington remained with the King until it was sold to Hugh de Pluggenait in 1142.


The area covered by Headington was very much larger at the time of the Domesday Book than it is today. H. E. Salter points out in his book Medieval Oxford:

Not only was North Oxford part of Headington, but also west Oxford, and portions of meadow on either side of the Botley Road, which were given to Oseney, were held of the Manor of Headington, and the lord of Headington had the right to pasture his beasts in that meadow, to the number of twenty, after the hay was carried. It is clear, therefore, that much of what we call Oxford is entered in Domesday under Headington. For instance, in 1141 a weir called Aldweir, built across the river a short distance above Folly Bridge, was given to Oseney, and the Pipe Rolls record every year that the Sheriff was allowed to deduct 4s. because he had the profit of this weir no longer. If we search for this weir in Domesday, we can only find it among the five weirs which are attached to Headington, being valued at 4s. each. It is obvious that there could not be five weirs of this value on the Cherwell; probably not more than one; the other four must be found on the Thames, though we can only identify Aldweir for certain.

The Godstow and Walton manos also came under Headington.

See also Headington on Open Domesday

© Stephanie Jenkins

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