Ancient Froyle
Iron Age Barrow

We know that Froyle has a long history. Stone Age and Bronze Age implements have been found in the area and there are the remains of a Roman Villa at Coldrey on the southern edge of the parish. Some twenty years ago, a dig (picture above) found evidence of a round barrow, along with a great deal of broken pottery ranging from the Bronze Age to the Romano-British period (around 55 B.C)But we will begin with the country’s earliest public record, the Domesday Book. The entry for Froyle, translated, reads:-
Land of St.Mary’s Winchester.
The Abbey itself holds Froli. It was ever there.
Before 1066 it answered for 10 hides, now for 8 hides.
Land for 10 ploughs. In Lordship 3 ploughs.
15 Villeins and 23 smallholders with 8 ploughs.
A Church; 10 slaves; 2 mills at 22s 6d; meadow, 8 acres.
Value before 1066 and later £12; now £15, however it pays £20 of revenue.

Prior to this time Froli was a Royal Manor held by Edward the Confessor “in his own person”. His Queen, Editha, held the manor of Alton (Aweltone). With the Conquest, Froli came into the hands of William the Conqueror who gave it to the Nuns of St.Mary's Abbey, Winchester, known then as Nunnaminster, and it was held by them until the dissolution of the nunnery in 1540. But let’s just go back to that Domesday entry for a moment and look at it in a little more detail. First, the name, “Froli”, as it was then. There are two schools of thought with regard to the meaning of this name. The first is that it derived from Froehyll or Frija’s Hill. Frija was the Norse goddess of Love and one of Odin’s wives; she protected men’s marriages and made them fruitful. If this is the case, then the hill referred to has been suggested as Saintbury, but there is no documented proof that this hill has ever born any name that would suggest this. The second school of thought, according to the extensive research undertaken by the late Theo Beck is that it comes from Mediaeval English “frow” translating as “swift” and Old English “wiell(e)” - “spring or stream”.

This “stream” he sees as “the Ryebridge stream rising in the Combe Field opposite Blundens House and known for generations as “Newmans Spring" which flows continuously, but at a season of the year becomes “lavant” and swollen by water gushing from the adjacent ground, floods the stream, overflows the culvert and floods the road with a swiftly flowing stream.” Mr.Beck also adds, “With reference to Ryebridge Stream, it is interesting to note that in West Sussex the word Rithe, Ang. Sax., is a fountain; well; rivulet. A small stream, usually one occasioned by heavy showers of rain. (A Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect, by the Rev. W.D.Parish, 1875).”But whatever the origin of the name, it is interesting to trace it’s transition from ‘Froli’ to ‘Froyle’. In 1086, as we have seen it was Froli; Frolia, 1166; Froila, 1167; Frolia, 1196; Frohill, 1199; Froyles, 1229; Froyle, 1236; Froille, 1236; Froile, 1237-1242; and the Froyle that we are so familiar with came into use around 1316. By far the largest class of the population at the time of the compilation of Domesday was that of the villeins or villagers; these occupied nearly everywhere the greater part of the lands of the manor, and the lord depended mainly upon their labour and services for carrying out the agricultural work on his estate.

The average holding of a villein in addition to his homestead, the messuage with toft (a place where a house formerly stood) and croft (a small piece of pasture land near a house) in the village was a virgate or yard-land, being about 30 acres, consisting of a number of acre and half acre strips distributed through the three arable fields, generally ten or twenty in each field. The distinctive feature of these holdings was that the strips were not collected together in one plot but lay interspersed in the several fields; one in this furlong or shot (shoot), another in that. Hence we have Indentures, like this one in 1760, between William Draper and Adam Blunden, both of who we shall meet later, which contain pages of references to the fields owned:

“.......In Burrowfield thirteen acres and a half dispersedly in eight pieces (to wit) one piece upon Reed by Reed Close one acre; one other piece butting to Bonhams ground two acres; one other piece called the Rainbow acre one acre; one other piece that goes across the way that goes to New Close two acres; one other piece by late Forders half an acre one acre; one other piece near the field Gate half an acre and one other piece butting to Hill Close one acre.........”
Looking at Froyle today it is hard for us to visualise that the whole village consisted of just these three fields at the time of Domesday and for many years to come. But their names are, perhaps, quite familiar to many of us - Coombefield, Coxfield and Burrowfield.But by the 1800s the Enclosure Acts had put an end to this open farming and Froyle looked very different. In the Froyle Archive is a copy of the Tithe Map of 1847, painstakingly traced by a Froyle resident, Sue Clark, which, along with its accompanying Apportionment Book, gives us a snapshot of the village 153 years ago. We know who all the landowners were and who rented the land from them and there before us are all the names of every field in the parish. To view a copy of the Apportionment Book in Adobe Acrobat format, follow the menu item below.