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Sunday Times Domesday Project

Sunday Times Exhibition and Colour Supplement

On May 6th, 1985, the Sunday Times Colour Supplement published a feature entitled Domesday, The Conqueror Who Shaped England. The article described in great detail the state of England under William the Conqueror and the publication of the Domesday Book. It announced a Sunday Times exhibition in Winchester’s Great Hall, and included three photographic panels of East Meon, as ‘The Domesday Village’. These are photographs of the panel, with the text below.

First , “The Rev Peter Wadsworth in front of the Norman All Saints Church, East Meon.

Second, “The Domesday Heritage. The Hampshire village of East Meon, target for The Sunday Times Domesday project, spreads itself beyond its Norman church under soaring hills which once formed a medieval deer park. Though only five miles west of bustling Petersfield, the village retains an ancient calm such as existed during the reign of William the Conqueror. Above left, the gable of a 14th-century manor house testifies to the site of an earlier manor held in Harold’s day by Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury before the Conqueror replaced the Anglo-Saxon with a Norman priest. Where the village ends abruptly at its southeast corner (above right) the farming fields begin: now modern allotments, they were worked in the 11th century on a field strip system by the villagers for their lord and themselves.”

Note that in this note and the subsequent one, the paper has mis-identified the site of the Court Hall – its photographs are of The Tudor House.

Third, “Landmarks in Time. Two fine old Hampshire houses stand at the site of an ancient bridge over the River Meon. On the left, Forge Sound, a rare 14th-century aisled building, faces a second timber-framed cottage of the 1300s, with a 16th century extension. The Domesday Book records ’70 villagers and 32 smallholders’ living in this village, that might have looked much like these dwellings, though smaller. Right, a handsome 17th-century house with a mediaeval core. Such a building in William’s day might have housed the steward of the lord’s estate. The River Meon (left) runs through the village. It was diverted in the past to feed the six mills recorded in the Domesday Boook. The river, which reaches the Solent above Gosport, acted as a lifestream to villagers in the 11th century, providing them with fish and flooding their meadow-land. Researchers are now worming their way back through ancient maps and bishops’ accounts to produce a picture of Domesday East Meon, just as this summer thousands of schools all over Britain will be turning back the clock in the search for their Domesday origins.”

It is more likely that there was a ford, not a bridge, at Forge Sound.

Click here For a report on the village’s experience as ‘The Domesday Village’ in 1986.