Dagworth 1066 to 1189
We can only speculate what Dagworth was like before 1066. Patey's 1985 History
suggests that the River Gipping may have been navigable as far as Dagworth at
the time of the Conquest, and mentions the local name for the ford, “Dagga’s
Dock”, and the depth of the sunken lane from there to Haughley (1.5 miles away)
as a sign of ancient origins. There is the suggestion that there was a Roman camp
at Haughley, and evidence of Roman occupation nearby, and we know that by
1066, Haughley was an important place held by a lord named Guthmund (possibly
the brother of Abbot Wulfric), who may well have had his Hall on a fortified mound
on which Hugh de Montfort built Haughley Castle following the Norman Conquest.
The Domesday Survey
Like many English villages, the first record of Dagworth is in Domesday, and the
entry can be viewed here. The survey tells us that, before the Norman Conquest,
Dagworth was held by a free man called Breme, who was killed at the Battle of
When Michael Wood visited Dagworth to film for The Great British Story in
September 2011, he explained that Breme is noteworthy because he was a free
man, just a local farmer who held his own land, and yet he is named amongst the
Saxon nobles we know were killed at Hastings. Michael Wood also suggested that
“Breme” was perhaps not this man's real name, because there is no other
occurrence of the name "Breme" in Anglo-Saxon sources, so perhaps it was a
moniker by which he had become remembered 20 years later when the Survey
took place, meaning “famous” or “renowned”: a local hero.
Domesday tells us that Dagworth was 1 league (probably about 2.2km) long by a
half (1.1km) broad (a total area of up to 600 acres), which is much larger than
and that it had a mill, a church without land (perhaps a chapel for the Hall), and half
a church with 30 acres of land. To see Dagworth mapped with nearby Domesday
places, visit Open Domesday. By 1086, Hugh de Montfort held 2 carucates of land
(about 240 acres) in demesne, of which most had been Breme's, and a further 240
acres of land are identified in addition to meadow and woodland. Dagworth Hall
farm was still about 200 acres in 1762, 1859, 1929 and through to the 1990s,
suggesting that the boundaries may have changed little in the following 900 years,
although demesne land would not necessarily be contiguous to the manor house in
the open field system.
Hugh de Montfort is one of only 15 proven Companions of the Conqueror, for
whom there is clear evidence that they fought at Hastings. This means that we
know for certain that the land at Dagworth passed from a Saxon who fought at
Hastings and died to a Norman who fought there and lived: the whole Conquest in
microcosm. Domesday tells us that by 1086, William fitz Gross held Dagworth from
Hugh, but this is the only record we have of William, and we have no knowledge of
who held Dagworth through the 12th century.
In 1088, Hugh de Montfort became a monk at the Abbey of Bec, and was later killed
in a duel with Wacheline de Ferrers. His son, Hugh, became Lord of Haughley, but
was deprived of his lands in 1100 after favouring the cause of Robert against his
brother Henry I, and departed on a crusade to the Holy Land.
By 1141, Gilbert van Gent, grandson of Alice de Montfort, daughter of the first
Hugh de Montfort, held Haughley castle and manor. He gave lands to William, son
of Hervey, possibly the freeman mentioned in the Domesday entries for Haughley.
In 1154, Henry II resumed his right over the Haughley lands at his accession, and in
1173 Haughley Castle was destroyed by Beaumont, Earl of Leicester, leading
Flemish mercenaries, supported by Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, who held
Framlingham castle. They were supporting Henry, Duke of Normandy, in rebellion
against his father Henry II. They were defeated by Humphrey de Bohun, Constable
of Haughley, in a battle at Fornham. The castle was never rebuilt.
Between 1189 and 1199, Richard I appears to have given the manors of Haughley
and Dagworth as part of the dowry of his niece, Matilda of Saxony, when she
married the Count de Perche, who held Haughley at his death in 1218. [1,2]
This satellite view shows the position of Dagworth relative to Haughley, about
1.5 miles away. The motte (earth mound) of Haughley castle is still clearly
visible today, surrounded by a moat, located in the wooded area at the Northern
edge of the village. Dagworth lies South-East in the valley, the course of which
can be identified by the ribbon of woodland that stretches along the river banks.