Translating the Pipe Rolls

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Here in Bishop’s Waltham we are very lucky because the Manor of Waltham has been in the hands of the Bishops of Winchester since 904 AD when Bishop Denewulf exchanged the Manor of Portchester with King Edward the Elder, King Alfred’s son, and acquired Waltham as a result.

The Pipe Rolls (so called because they are rolled up and look like pipes) of the Bishops of Winchester are an extraordinary historical resources. They are the most complete set of manorial accounts in the country, dating from 1208/9 almost unbroken to 1710/11. They depict, in minute detail, a record of income and expenditure on all the Bishop of Winchester's estates across southern England, from Surrey to Somerset and from the Isle of Wight to Oxfordshire - the richest episcopal estate in England.

While some parts of the Pipe Rolls have been translated from the Medieval Latin in which they are written, much of it remains impenetrable. In order to find out what was happening in Bishop’s Waltham when Henry V visited in 1415, the Society sponsored a team to translate the relevant years – this was used to inform part of the exhibitions in the museum, at the Palace, during the recent celebrations. More work continues and we look forward to make good use of this new information as it becomes available.

 

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An illustration of the town's name with a dragon in the pipe rolls