The History of Clevedon

Part 3: Medieval Times

Clevedon in the Domesday Book, 1086 is down as land held by Mathew of Mortaigne from the King.

Listed Mathew holds Clevedon from the King, and Hidelbert from him [Mathew was letting out on Knight's Fee or Knight's Service, land which was part of his tenancy held from the king. In this way Mathew by obtaining service from Hidelbert could take him into the train of men at arms and knights, which Mathew had to maintain for the King's service]

John the Dane held it before 1066. It paid tax for 5.5 hides and 2 furlongs, and land for 6 ploughs.

In Lordship are 2 ploughs and 2 hides (96 Hectares) with one slave.

In the settlement were 8 villagers and 10 smallholders with 4 ploughs and 2 1/2 hides (121 Hectares) and 2 furlongs. Meadow 46 acres, (18.6 Hectares) pasture 1.5 leagues long and as wide. Woodland 2 furlongs long and 0.5 furlong wide. 7 Unbroken mares, 1 cob, 22 cattle 25 pigs, and 115 sheep. Formerly worth 40/- it is now worth 80/-

One league was approx. 1.5 miles. This would have given Clevedon about 2.5 Sq. miles (approximately 6.4 Sq. Km) of pasture. Woodland would have been about 25 acres (approx. 10 Hectares) while there were plenty of goats in the Gordano valley Clevedon had none. 1 hide equalled approx. 120 Acres (approx. 48 Hectares) in Somerset. In some other counties it was 160 acres. It represented the amount of land needed to support one family for a year. It is from this that the name Highdale derived.

Hide Hall-- Hydhall --Hydal -- Highdale.

Highdale Farm, la Hildehall in 1377

It was originally the Demesne Farm of the Manor of Clevedon, and the USE of the site dates back to Domesday, although the age of the present building is probably not earlier than 1550 in its early work. Most of the later work on it is more likely to be 1700's. It became a farm in its later years, and farmed many of the fields on which lower Clevedon was built. It ceased to be a farm in the 1930's and is now divided into two houses. It stands on the hill behind the Fire Station up a small side lane.

The Lords of the Manors of Clevedon and Tickenham and Nailsea shared pasture on the Moorland. The Danes Gunni (Gunni is a variation of John. Was this one man?) & John held a great amount of land in the North of Somerset before the Norman Conquest; villages in the Gordano Valley, north of Clevedon, and Yatton, a very large settlement of 20 hides, south of Clevedon. It would seem that Clevedon pastures were being used for Horse Rearing, To have 7 unbroken mares was rather a lot in those days.

Clevedon means literally Cleave or Cleft and Don or Hill, it derives from the Saxon. It is easy to see why it is called this; the hill at East Clevedon near the Court shows a very deep cleft in it at the entry to the Gordano valley. I hold this opinion contrary to the statement in the Sanitation report and various guidebooks. There is no valley where the cliff ends at the channel.

Furthermore the de Clyvedon family had their manor not at the channel but at or near the Cleave or Cleft of Swiss Valley. How much more likely is it then that this valley was the 'Cleft Hill' from which they took the family name

The Norman holders later became called De Clevedon, and took their family name from the village, also spelt Clyvedon, Clivedon etc. They also held land at Aller in the south of Somerset at a later date and a place known as Milton Clevedon below the Mendip Hills. They were a family who held many minor offices for the king, but never rose to great heights, some members of the family were very turbulent, and constantly in trouble. 

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