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Great Staughton and its people by Anthony Withers, Chapter 4 & 5

2000 Years of English History.

This book is about the remarkable people from this modest Huntingdonshire village who, over thepast two millennia of England’s history, exercised power and influence both locally and on the national stage. The book gives a detailed biography of each of these characters, setting their lives in the wider context of English history from the time of the Romans to the present day.

An introduction to Chapters 4 and 5

These two linked chapters tell the story of Great Staughton after the Roman legions abandoned Britannia in the 5th century. Chapter 4: Peoples from across the sea charts the migration of the North Germanic tribes who collectively became known as the Anglo-Saxons. Karl-Inge Sandred, late Professor of Philology at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, puts forward his hypothesis on the likely origin of Beachampstead.

With Chapter 5: The will of Ælfhelm Polga, 31 October 989 we come to the first documentary reference to our village in a will which gives a fascinating account of life in what is mistakenly called the Dark Ages. The chapter explores the life and times of this Anglo-Saxon nobleman who served King Edgar the Peaceful and his successors. Ælfhelm Polga was a benefactor of the two most powerful abbeys in the kingdom, Ely and Ramsey and it is principally through the records of the abbeys that we know so much about his life. Ælfhelm Polga is also mentioned in numerous charters and his presence is recorded at the dedication of various religious houses, including the Priory of St Neots.

NEXT WEEK: Great Staughton in the Domesday Book

This chapter of the book will be uploaded to the website on Monday September 26.

Feedback is welcome:

Click the PDF below to read Chapters 4 & 5.

Chapters 4 and 5
Download PDF • 169KB

For further information on this book and to read the rest, visit:

The will of Ælfhelm Polga

The manuscript of Ælfhelm Polga’s will is held by the British Library under reference STOWE: Ch[arter] 36. The will was originally held by the church of St Peter, Westminster, better known today as Westminster Abbey.

The reference to Great Staughton begins in the middle of line 8.

It begins:

7 ic gean Leofsige Lytlanbyrig æfter minum dæge. on þæt gerad þe þæt stande. þe wyt beforan þan ealdormen lucan. 7 ic gean him 7 his wiue þæs landes æt Stoctune. wið an hund mancosa goldes.

And I grant Littlebury to Leofsige after my death, on condition that the agreement which we concluded before the ealdorman shall hold good. And I grant to him and his wife the estate at Stockton for a hundred mancuses of gold, and I wish that the gold be given to my lord in payment of my heriot.

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