Domesday Book of 1086 lists a number of major landowners in Nottinghamshire.

The main ones among these include:

The King,
The Archbishop of York,
The Bishop of Lincoln,
Walter D'Aincourt,

There were many others, but the chief landowners in terms of the scale of their possessions were Roger De Busli (De Bully) and William Peverel.

The land holdings of Roger De Bully (the Hounour of Tickhill) were concentrated in the north of the county and will be the subject of a post soon, for now we will look at the lands of William Peverel- collectively known as the Honour of Peverel.

William Peverel was perhaps the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror, and he fought alongside him at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

He became custodian of vast tracts of land in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and built Peveril Castle in Castleton in Derbyshire as well as Nottingham Castle for William I.

His collection of Manors known as the Honour of Peverel were presented to him as such by King William I.

In Nottinghamshire at Domesday he held 43 Manors, a number of associated Berewicks (outliers to manors), as well as large amounts of Sokeland (land that owed tax to a manor). This land was concentrated in the south and western parts of the county (see map).

William Peverel was a very important magnate locally as builder and custodian of Nottingham castle in 1067.

He also founded Lenton Priory which would become the richest religious house in Sherwood Forest and Nottinghamshire.

However despite this little is known about his life.

William Peverel the younger was the son or Grandson of William Peverel senior.

He too was an important figure locally- involved heavily in fighting for King Stephen in the Anarchy he was driven into exile by Henry II in 1154.

He had poisoned Ranulf Earl of Chester in 1153, and was banished for his actions- possibly taking refuge in Lenton Abbey, founded by his grandfather (more on Ranulf Earl of Chester coming soon).

The Honour of Peverel was taken into the hands of the crown by Henry II.

This was important for the history of Sherwood Forest as it allowed extension by the Crown of Forest law over these lands (it is assumed it was not in the forest before this time - see below).

This expansion of the Forest both locally and nationally would be part of the disquiet that led to Magna Charta in 1215, and to the subsequent Charter of the Forest in 1217 under Henry III.

The Charter of the Forest led to boundary disputes and a reduction of the area under forest law.

It seems the forest retreated back within earlier boundaries following these disputes.

The area under the Honour of Peverel, especially that in the area of the Wapentake of Broxtowe was disaforested and this probably meant it was outside the original forest.

The Honour of Peverel is important then, as it helps us to understand why Medieval Sherwood Forest was the shape it was.

We know that all of Nottinghamshire north and West of the River Trent was Forest in the reign of Henry II, Richard I and John (see boundaries page for more information).

The Honour of Peverel was in crown hands at this time- due to the reasons outlined above.

Following the Charter of the Forest the areas of the Honour of Peverel were deemed to be outside the forest suggesting that they had been originally outside the forest.

It would seem then that the jurisdictions of early Norman lords, castles and politics following the conquest had an impact on the original shape of the Norman Forest in Nottinghamshire...



(Andy Gaunt, first published 03/11/2011)


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