The Anglo Saxon Chronicle was created in the
early 890s under the orders of King Alfred the Great. Going back to AD
1, the Chronicle was a year-by-year record of events maintained
by clerks at great ecclesiastical centres until the mid 12th Century. At Peterborough Abbey, the chronicle was maintained until 1155, and it is in these
records, that we find a mention of Cottingham.
Between 1135 and 1154, under the
reign of King Stephen, England descended into civil war. The Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle observes that the rich men in England rebelled against Stephen,
filling the land with castles built by forced labour. The ordinary folk were
taxed, imprisoned and tortured. When they had no more to give, the landowners
plundered and burned towns and churches – and, with the land laid bare, the
townsfolk died of hunger.
Against this backdrop, the great abbey of Peterborough was controlled by a prior
Martin de Bec. At this time, the church was extremely powerful, and owned a
great deal of land. The Chronicle records that, since 1132, Martin had significantly enriched the abbey with
lands and rents and, in 1140, he "brought them to the new minster".
The Chronicle reports that,
in 1197, Martin,
under the authority of the Pope, "got in
the lands that rich men retained by force. From William Mauduit, who held the
castle of Rockingham,
he won Cotingham
and Easton; and
from Hugh de Walteville, he won Hirtlingbury and Stanwick, and sixty shillings
For further information
about the power of the church in Cottingham up until the 16th Century, click here.