1336 FEUDAL YALDING.
The feudal community system was started by the Saxons and continued well after the Norman Conquest, and was integrated into the manorial system of the new Lords of the Manor. The peasant workers were a self-governing community in relation to each other, but with reference to the Lord of the Manor they were serfs.
The term serf comes a Latin word that means slave, and their status at this time was just midway between a free person and an actual slave, and the actual freemen were not allowed to live completely independent lives from being members of the manor.
This meant they were “bound to the soil” and had no legal right to leave their holdings. That they must grind their corn in the lord’s mill, could not give their children in marriage without his consent, and also owed him field service on certain days, when they must labour not on their own land but on his, under orders of his bailiff. In fact there was a whole list of do’s and don’ts.
Changes were slow to come, but the increase of population meant that there was a greater demand for land, and consequently the number of strips in the open field, and the outer parcels of land, assigned to a single farmer grew less. This allowed the bailiff to enforce more strictly the demand for field-work on the home farm as the condition for tenure of other lands.
In the Yalding of 1336, under Hugh de Audley as Lord of the Manor, the break up of the feudal manorial system can be seen to be well underway, but still the traditional hold on justice and discipline by the Lord was still very much a prominent feature of community life.
In that year Yalding manor had a population of 149, but with the other manors of Lodingford, Woodfolde and Bockingfold, it is estimated that the total parish population was nearer 400.
Much of the wealth and success of a manor lay in its workforce, and the tools they had to perform their annual tasks. The chief implement was the plough, and the main beast was the bull followed closely by the oxen. On the Yalding manor there were 25 ploughs, of which the Lord had 4, and John Giffard the estate bailiff had 2. This left the other 37 families having 19 ploughs between them, and these varied in size. Tillage of the land required teams of oxen. Maybe a single oxen, for a small plot, but usually a pair on a yoke, and some parts of the country up to five yoke pulling a large plough.
To perform this function the manor had 52 oxen, of which 10 belonged to Hugh de Audley, and 6 to John Giffard. This left 36, and with some having 2 oxen, 10 families did not have this beast to offer, or to care for. In this aspect of land management, and other tasks, the community lived together combining their resources as a collective unit.
( There is other information on the net, that has this and more details on Manorial Yalding that seems unique, with no source disclosed. When asked it was admitted that it had mainly been compiled as an educational simulation. )