POLITICAL HISTORY sacred place hallowed by the crowning of the first Christian king of a nation. It was probably then, as later, a royal possession. A possible origin of the custom is that this happened to be the place of meeting of the Council in 836 or 838, when Egbert and Ceolnoth the arch- bishop seem to have made a lasting league between the West Saxon crown and the metropolitan see, with the aim and the result of ruling all southern Britain between them. The first wave of the Norman invasion necessarily broke upon Surrey, along with the other counties between the coast and London, the objective point of all invaders. William, after securing the coast of Sussex and Kent, turned the flank of the forest of the Weald and came from the eastward to Southwark. He probably had divided his forces and sent part due west along the Pilgrims' Way into Surrey, on the road to Winchester, his second most important point. London however was always impregnable in the Middle Ages to an enemy attacking from the south. The fortified end of the narrow bridge was a very strong posi- tion of defence and no ships could pass the bridge to aid an attack from the river, nor could boats pass it against the will of those who manned it. William burnt some houses outside the bridge head, ravaged the neighbourhood as far up the Thames valley as Walton, and specially Harold's lands at Mortlake and Battersea, but then went down the Stone Street to join the rest of his forces near Dorking. The marches of the two bodies had devastated most of east Surrey between them. From Dorking westward the line of ravage is narrow and along the road towards Winchester, sparing the lands of the only considerable English Surrey tenant in Domesday, Oswold, who evidently at once made his peace with the invader, 1 and the lands of Edith the widow of the Confessor. Winchester anticipated a visit from the Normans by a surrender, and London gave in when William had crossed the Thames and was coming down upon it from the north-west. Two men stand out prominently among the tenentes in capite of Domesday as great local lords in Surrey : Richard son of Earl Gilbert, called Richard de Tonebrige, and Odo Bishop of Bayeux, the king's half- brother, Earl of Kent. Kent was Odo's earldom, and he, an ecclesiastic, would in no case have become the founder of a territorial power in Surrey. 2 His quarrel with the Conqueror led to his arrest. Odo's release under William Rufus was followed by his rebellion in favour of Robert, which led to his final exile from England. His lands lapsed to the Crown. Richard de Tonebrige founded one of the two houses which dis- puted the pre-eminence among the baronage of Surrey. He held 38 manors in Surrey, forming a fairly compact territory towards the south- east of the county, with outlying possessions reaching north-westward by Cobham to the Thames at Walton and Moulsey, and westward to 1 See 'The Conqueror's Footprints in Domesday,' Baring, EngKsb Historical Review, January, 1898 ; History of Surrey, Maiden, p. 63, and the Introduction to Domesday in this History. 1 The collateral heir of the younger half-brother of the king would, in practice, have been the king. 339
Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/405
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