Each year, by chance or design, hundreds of visitors arrive at Hooton Pagnell and are immediately charmed by its buildings, nestling harmoniously into the natural surroundings, it beautiful views, its fascinating history. Variously described as "the Jewel in South Yorkshire's Crown", "the queen of all villages', Hooton Pagnell typifies the amazing juxtaposition of industry and rural life in the county. In a trice one can step back a thousand years and, standing by the Butter cross, gaze across westwards to the distant Pennine..hills to enjoy a view that delighted our forebears.
These pages do not set out to be a scholarly work. Its aim is to enhance the enjoyment of visitors by providing brief encounters with moments of the village's history, and to remind those of us who are fortunate enough to live here about the richness of our inheritance.
The first recorded mention of Hooton Pagnell is found in Domesday Book, where it is called "Hotone" ("The Town on the Hill" or "The High Dwelling Place"). "In Hotone and Bileham Earl Edwin had one manor of ten carucetes for geld, and ten ploughs may be there.. . . . . . . . . In the time of King Edward it was worth eight pounds, now one hundred shillings."
The village was variously called "Hoton", "Howton", "Hutton", the second part of the name being added during the time of the Paganals, a distinguished Norman family into whose hands the manor passed towards the end of the 11th Century. The second part of the name is variously spelt - "Paynel", “Painell", "Pannell", "Pagnell". Hence, "Hooton Pagnell" - "The High Dwelling Place of the Paynels':
The Norman invasion changed the face of England, forged a new historical direction, and significantly altered our language. Whatever the legitimacy of William's claim to the English throne his iron fist closed round his new kingdom during the first 20 years of his reign, and he laid waste huge areas of the North where Saxon remnants had dared to rebel. Lands and manors were given to supporters as spoils and as rewards for loyalty. The 200 acres, that was in 1086 the extent of the cultivated land in Hooton, were given to Robert, Count of Mortain. He in turn sublet the land to Richard de Surdeval, a Norman knight.
William the Conqueror's aim in ordering the compilation of Domesday was to establish the value and extent of the properties and land he claimed to be his as the successor to Edward the Confessor. The surveyors he sent out covered most of England during the first seven months of 1086. Using a questionnaire they ascertained the male population of each district and noted the sources of wealth of each manor.
"There was not a single hide, nor one vintage of land, nor even, it is shame to tell, though it seemed no shame to do, an ox, nor a cow, nor a swine was left that was not set down." (Contemporary Saxon Chronicler)
The manor of Hooton was deemed to be worth £5 per year, £3 less than before the Conquest. William had no-one to blame for this apparent devaluation but himself. His Northern campaign resulted in thousands being slaughtered, and lands and properties being laid waste. Nevertheless Hooton was important. It commanded a fine strategic position overlooking the flat country by the Dearne and Don, and it had a supply of wood and fresh water.
Towards the end of the 11th Century the estate of Hooton passed from Richard into the hands of Ralph Paganel, a distinguished Norman who had supported William. Ralph also owned lands in Somerset, Devon, Gloucester, Northampton, Lincoln, and other parts of Yorkshire. This made him one of the richest and most powerful barrons in the county.
The ownership of Hooton remained in the hands of the Paganels and their heirs till
the reign of Edward IV through the names of Paganel, and through marriage,
Luterel and Hilton.
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