A history of Halesworth, Suffolk, UK, through the ages.


Volume 1

east anglia

The Norman Invasion in 1066

To many of the Saxons, these matters of state and royal succession were not important, to them a much greater event was due to take place. This was the year of 1,000 AD, known as 'The Millennium', or the time of the second coming of Christ. Some sign was looked for so that this new era could be recognised. In April 1066 a sign appeared. A fiery comet could be seen every night in the sky for a week, so clearly, that it was embroidered into the background of the Bayeaux Tapestry. This we now know to have been the arrival of Halley's comet, which appears every seventy five years, and was due in 1066. Little did they realise that an even greater change in their way of life was due to come in the form of the Norman Invasion.

By the time William, Duke of Normany had heard of the death of Edward the Confessor, King of England, Harold Godwin, the Earl of Wessex, had been declared king in his place. William was furious, as Harold had been forced to swear a sacred oath to support him to be the next king of England, so he ordered his troops to prepare for war. By August 1066, William was ready and in September he landed on the South Coast at Pevensey, Kent, and marched to make camp at Hastings, Kent.

Harold hurried from London to halt at Battle, Kent, which was nine miles away. William moved inland on the next day, October 14th and quickly attacked the English. For some time the outcome was uncertain, until the Normans broke through the English lines. Harold was killed in the battle, having reigned for only 40 weeks, leaving the throne vacant. On Christmas Day 1066, William was crowned as William l of England at Westminster Abbey, which was set on fire during the ceremony.

William's first action was to reward the Norman and French who had helped him to victory, and he gave them lands which he had taken from English nobles who had either died in battle or fled the country. By 1086, the 629 manors of Suffolk had been shared out between 19 landowners, who in turn granted some of the lands between 71 tenants-in-chief. Count Alan of Brittany took over Earl Ralph's possessions, while William Malet received 221 holdings, including most of the lands of Edric of Laxfield and his residence at the Castle at Eye. Roger Bigod received 117 manors in Suffolk, and he and his heirs became Earls of Norfolk and administered their estate from their four castles at Ipswich, Bungay, Walton and Framlingham.


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