Early Medieval Sandridge
Early Medieval period of History relating to Sandridge
by Daniel Hill
From the period BC 54- 1483, Sandridge was a sight of many an event. For example in Roman times, Julius Caesar is believed to have attacked stronghold bounded by Devils Dyke and the Slad in BC54, during his war against Cassivellanus. Also around this time, looking at the layout of Beach Bottom Dyke, we can tell from its layout that it is clearly intended as a boundary and Traffic barrier, rather than military work. Sandridge was used by Romans, as well as at the time being situated within the kingdom of Mercia, as it was for a significant period. We can also find reference to Sandridge in the Domesday Book. Much later on, Robert de la Marc, in 1209, was extorted along with Sandridge for money, as well as the monasteries, to fund John I’s war with the French. He was required to pay 13 marks. Then, during the reign of Henry II, there was the case of William Merun against Roger de Nortone, who was an Abbott. The abbot confiscated Merun’s property as he was believed to be a Villein, despite Merun’s claims that he was a freeman. As a result, Merun appealed to the Viscount of Hertford and Henry II, who sent Judges down to investigate. In the end we do not know if he was a freeman or a Villein, which is the direct debate of this case. According to the Feudal system of Sandridge, the Abbot of St Albans is in charge, through a Baliff working the Home farm. Villeins were bound to the land, and as such they could not move or go on strike, even when the manor changed hands. Then came the Black Death. 3 vicars of Sandridge, along with ¾ of vicars in St Albans perished due to this. This lead to a high death toll within Sandridge along with the rest of the UK, along with Crop failure within Sandridge, which helped contribute to the rising death toll. As a result of this, market value of labour was doubled with the low number of workers. Then, there were the Herts Rebels in 1381, coinciding with the Peasants Revolt. The Herts Rebels, under William Grindcombe, attacked the abbey of St Albans, and threatened places such as Kingsbury manor. As a result, they gained farming and hunting rights from Thomas de la Mare. This led to a second revolt calling for personal freedom. Later on, the Abbott was threatened, telling him he had to send money to Canterbury, he didn’t and as a result, some buildings were torched, and as a result crops were being destroyed. Around the 15th Century, more and more people were being granted freedom, to become freemen. In 1466, William and Robert Nasshe of Sandridge were granted freedom, along with any future family, as granted by the Abbot. And again in 1483, when Philip Nasshe and all future heirs were liberated by the Abbot.
Source: HALS Library, “Historic Sandridge Revisited” By Edward Giles and Richard William Thrale, Edited by Janet R Rose