The Polden Hill Manors of Glastonbury Abbey : Land and people circa 1260 to 1351


Research for this thesis draws on evidence from manorial surveys of 1189, 1239, 1260, 1317 and 1325 and all extant court and account (compotus) rolls pertaining to the manors of Shapwick with Moorlinch, Ashcott, Walton, Street and Greinton in the period 1258 to 1352. The contiguity of this manorial bloc which was subject to common lordship enables a close study of differences of custom and practice, and demographic experience, within a spatially limited compass.;Following a brief account of the sources and early history of the manors, the distinctive topography of the Polden vills as illuminated by 13th- and 14th-century descriptions of the demesnes is examined. The operation of the classic two-field system of open-field farming and how this was subject to change in a process of demesne rejuvenation fed by land reclamation is then described.;These introductory chapters provide the background for the principal themes of the thesis relating to Polden demography, peasant standards of living, and stratification of wealth in the first half of the fourteenth century. In what it is hoped will prove to be an important contribution to the ongoing debate about the nature of the 'crisis' of the early part of the century comparisons are made with other areas of lordship, most notably manor of Taunton the retailed demographic experience of which, until recently, has been so influential in forming perceptions of the period.;The development of tenurial structure, characterised by 13th-century growth in the size of customary holdings and, notwithstanding the growth of cottar and smallholding classes, the absence of fragmentation, is described in Chapter 3 which concludes with an account of the unique nature of Glastonbury's manor court records as they pertain to the resident landless men (garciones). Chapter 4 utilises garcio and tenant data in an examination of demographic aspects including population trends, household size, acres per head, and mortality before and during the Black Death.





Social Bookmarking



Thompson, Michael Gray, “The Polden Hill Manors of Glastonbury Abbey : Land and people circa 1260 to 1351,” Centre for English Local History Theses and Papers, accessed December 7, 2022,