Southwold Railway Trust Archive of Wenhaston

History Note #30: Lords and Masters

History Note #30: Lords and Masters
The Lords and owners of Wenhaston

Who were the first known owners of Wenhaston? It would appear that our village was originally spelt Wenadestuna in Saxon times, which means Wenheard’s Farm. So he was the earliest named inhabitant.

However the Battle of Hastings changed the ownership of most places. Domesday Book of 1086 states that Wenhaston was owned by Lord Alan, the Red, Lord of Brittany, who was the son of Eudo, Count of Penthievre. More to the point it is said Lord Alan was the son-in-law to King William the Conqueror!

Anyway he fought at the Battle of Hastings and was amply rewarded by gifts of much land. In fact 400 Manors in 12 counties, mainly in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and East Anglia. He did not live at Wenhaston but in Yorkshire. He built Richmond Castle and was created Earl of Richmond.

With all his property he was considered the sixth richest man in England with a yearly income of £1100. Bringing that figure in 1086 up to date he would now be classed as a billionaire. He died in 1089.

Mells was owned in 1066 by Manning, a free man, but by 1086 was now owned by Robert De Todeni, a standard bearer at the Battle of Hastings. Naturally he had various gifts of land and his main property was at Belvoir where he built a castle at the top of a hill and a monastery at the foot.

He died and was buried in the monastery, but at the Dissolution in the 1530s his stone coffin was taken up to the castle where one may see it at the door of the chapel (empty one trusts!).

Over the following years a number of owners were named for Wenhaston and Mells, but around 1311 Sir Walter de Norwich, who owned Wenhaston, bought Mells from Peter de Mells and Wenhaston became the parish that we now know.