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Page history last edited by Peter Tipton 13 years ago

Was Yateley's mediaeval wealth based on fish-farming?

Contributed by Peter Tipton, and first published in the Yateley Society exhibition to commemorate 25 years of the new Yateley Library


The Myth: Yateley never was an important parish

Until recently it has been believed that Yateley has always been a rural backwater, of no real economic importance. This attitude is encapsulated in the opening paragraphs of A History of Crondall & Yateley by Rev C D Stooks MA 1905:


The Parish of Yateley is unusually deficient in historical material. It was never an important parish, being only a Chapelry of Crondall, and in ancient days must have consisted for the most part of heath and forest land. Its name is not mentioned in King Edgar's will, which defines the boundaries of the Manor of Crondall; nor is it mentioned in Domesday Book, although Cove, which then formed part of the parish, is spoken of there. The first mention of Yateley is, apparently, in the beautiful 13th century Compotus Roll in the Library of Winchester Cathedral and in the Customary of forty years later.


Many of the above facts are wrong, or misleading. Yateley is not unusually deficient in historical material, in fact quite the opposite is true. The Yateley Society believes Yateley is mentioned in the Domesday Book, but under a different name, and the parish of Yateley was certainly not a rural backwater. However it is Yateley's relative economic value in the Middle Ages which concerns us here.


Initial conclusions

Yateley was much more important economically in the Middle Ages than has previously been thought. The Rev. Stooks was right about the economic value of the heathlands in Yateley and Hawley, but either there were some very rich people living in Yateley, who made their money elsewhere, or there was some economic activity in Yateley which made several individuals rich enough to be taxed at relatively high levels when judged by national taxation standards.


How do we know Yateley was comparatively wealthy in 1334?


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