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SEG Home > The History of Saltford > A - Z > Owners & place name origins of Saltford

The owners of the manor (area of land) of Saltford

Ownership of land in England after the Roman occupation and the arrival of the Anglo Saxon Kings had its roots in the feudal system established by William the Conqueror after 1066. The Domesday survey led to the 1086 Domesday Book that was produced to settle all quarrels and disputes whilst at the same time to take stock of William's new kingdom and it was the reference source for all land and its value. Groups of men, the "Commissioners of Domesday", had been sent out all over the country (much of England and parts of Wales) to find out who owned the land in each county and assess how ownership had changed since 1066.

Here is recorded the known owners of the manor or land of Saltford until the late 18th Century, by which time social and property law changes had led to wider land ownership amongst the population as the aristocratic presence associated with land ownership diminished.

Please note: Various sources have been researched to produce this account but we accept that due to the assumptions made by some of those sources and the lack of early documented records, the accuracy of the dates and some of the ownerships of the manor of Saltford may not be 100% or complete and this account is thus subject to future updating, expansion and correction. We will update this record as and when new information is revealed by research.

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The owners of the manor (area of land) of Saltford

Possible meanings of 'Saltford'

Pre-Roman and Roman Britain

Saltford Axe Heads

The earliest evidence of human activity in Saltford is provided by our oldest artefact, a stone axe-hammer that could be over 4,000 years old (from the late Stone Age or early Bronze Age).

An example of a roundhouse reconstruction.

Geophysics surveys on the southern side of Saltford have revealed evidence of roundhouses that could be from the late Bronze Age (1,100 BC - 800 BC) or Iron Age (800 BC - 43 AD); together with bronze socketed axe heads found in Saltford (see our Online Museum) these provide evidence of actual settlement, rather than just human activity, during those time periods.

The Dobunni tribe was one of the Iron Age tribes and lived in the south west of the British Isles prior to the AD43 Roman invasion of Britain. Their territory included Bath and north Somerset and thus most probably Saltford too.

Examples of Roman coins found on the south side of Saltford in 2014.

There is plenty of evidence of Roman settlement in and around the parish of Saltford (see our Online Museum) but precisely when the Romans arrived in Saltford is not known.

After the Roman invasion of Britain in AD43 the Romans began building a formal temple complex at 'Aquae Sulis' (Bath) in the AD60s. It is therefore reasonable to estimate that the Saltford area was occupied by the Romans from around the end of the first century AD. The new Roman city of Bath would have required a constant food supply; the surrounding countryside including Saltford with its fresh water springs was ideally placed to provide food crops and for holding and rearing livestock to keep Bath's growing population fed.

Post Roman Britain

With the ending of Roman rule in Britain in c.430 and the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons we might presume that after a short period of ownership by the West Country Britons when the Romans first left, the Anglo-Saxon Kings of England (House of Wessex) owned this part of England from 577. Certainly the Anglo-Saxons lived in Saltford; an Anglo-Saxon burial ground was discovered in c.1936 on the northern edge of the parish and the base of St Mary's church tower is thought to be of Anglo-Saxon construction.

In 577 the Battle of Deorham (or Dyrham) led to the capture of 'Aquae Sulis' (Bath) by the West Saxons from the Britons.2 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (c.890) is the only source that records the battle. Compiled over 300 years after the event, the Chronicle claims this victory gave the West-Saxons Glevum (Gloucester), Corinium (Cirencester) and Aquae Sulis (Bath).

Viking rule of England commenced with Sweyn Forkbeard on 25th December 1013 soon after he had captured Bath, was interrupted after his death 5 months later in 1014, and recommenced under Cnut (Canute) in 1016 after a brief period of Anglo-Saxon rule in 1016 by King Ethelred II the Unready who returned to the throne in 1014 until his death in 1016 and a brief period in 1016 under the rule of Edmund lronside. The 11th Century bronze Viking Buckle found in Saltford in 2018 is intriguing evidence of the Vikings' presence or influence in Saltford.

However we cannot be certain who owned or held Saltford until after the Norman conquest in 1066 and the record provided by the 1086 Domesday Book.


The earliest known record is the 1086 Domesday book entry for Saltford: "Roger holds SALTFORD from the Bishop (?Geoffrey of Coutances)".

  • "Roger" in the Domesday book entry for Saltford was Roger de Courseulles, also called Roger Whiting, from Courseulles-sur-Mer, Calvados, Normandy. He had large holdings in Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire.
  • Roger de Courseulles was born c. 1045 in Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, and died after 1100 in Curry Mallet, Langport, Somerset. Name of spouse unknown. As far as we can tell he had one daughter, Miss de CORCELLE, Heir of Shepton and Curry Mallett (b. c.1065 Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, d. 1105, Curry Mallet, Langport, Somerset).

The Bishop of Coutances, Geoffrey de Monbray, was present at the Battle of Hastings (1066) and at William the Conqueror's coronation; his reward was a large fiefdom (the estate or domain of a feudal lord) including Saltford. He died at Coutances in 1093.

The Honour of Gloucester was one of the largest of the medieval English feudal baronies. Feudal baronies are largely thought to have been brought into existence by the early Norman kings of England after the Norman invasion of 1066. The manor of Saltford was one of many landholdings that were originally annexed to the Honour of Gloucester; but the date that this occurred is not known, possibly in 1122 when the first Earl of Gloucester was created, or soon after.

Robert Fitzoy a favoured illegitimate son of Henry I of England and brother to the mother of Henry II, the Empress Matilda, was created the first Earl of Gloucester by Henry I in 1122. Robert FitzRoy was also known as Robert de Caen and died 1147, the year before Saltford Manor House was built from stone, possibly to replace a wooden structure, by his son the Earl William of Gloucester.

Saltford Manor House (2015). The main house was constructed in c.1148.

The Norman period of reign in England was succeeded in 1154 by the Plantagenet dynasty (1154 - 1485), a family of French descent from Anjou in the lower Loire Valley), Henry II being the first Plantagenet monarch (King of England 1154 - 1189).

1216 - 1603

The manor of Saltford was held by the Honour of Gloucester in the time of Henry III (King of England 1216 - 1272) and Edward I (King of England & Wales 1272 - 1307). Thereafter it was held under the Honour of Gloucester by the family of Bayouse, and afterwards by the Bassets and the Rodneys. The Rodneys possessed it from the reign of Edward I to that of Queen Elizabeth I inclusive, i.e. 1272 - 1603.1

Early 1600s - 1789

The manor of Saltford became the property of the Duke(s) of Chandos1, of the Brydges3 family, but the year this change of ownership came about or from whom is not known.

  • The first creation of the Duke of Chandos was in 1337 when Roger de Chandos was summoned to parliament. It is thought the title became extinct on his death, although some sources include a 2nd and 3rd Lord (his son and grandson) before the title became extinct.
  • The dissolution of monasteries under Henry VIII's rule (including the dissolution of Keynsham Abbey in 1539) led to a significant re-distribution of land holdings in Keynsham and Saltford.

The 1st Duke of Chandos2 from the second creation of this title was James Brydges (1673 - 1744) and he was made Duke of Chandos in 1719.

3rd Duke of Chandos, James Brydges (1731-1789)

The 3rd Duke of Chandos4, also named James Brydges (1731-1789) was the last Duke of Chandos as he died without a male heir although his son-in-law, the 2nd Marquess of Buckingham, was made Duke of Buckingham and Chandos in 1822.

  • The 21st March 1788 edition of the Bath Chronicle records that the 3rd Duke of Chandos appointed the rector of Saltford, the poverty stricken Rev Thomas Davies from Wales in 1788 (Rev Davies was rector from 1788 - 1813).

Duchy of Cornwall owned land in Saltford5

Following the death of the fifth Earl Temple (family name Gore-Langton) in 1940, a parcel of land on the south side of Saltford, principally Longwood and land containing Saltford Golf Course was purchased in 1941 from the Gore-Langton estate by the Duchy of Cornwall as part of the Newton Park Estate. The 1941 conveyance documentation refers to Col The Hon J G B Morgan Grenville and Edward Harington who were possibly the trustees or executors for Earl Temple and the Gore-Langtons.

The estate had been in the Langton and then Gore-Langton family since 1666 and as the Duchy of Cornwall had owned Inglescombe which includes Englishcombe and Inglesbatch and stretches across to Newton Brook since 1421, the purchase of Newton Park when it became available in 1940/41 would seem a natural addition.

Version (last updated): 6 April 2018

Information sources
1 'History of the Antiquities of Somerset' by John Collinson (1791)
2 en.wikipedia.org/wiki (2017, 2018)
3 St Mary the Virgin, Saltford by Harold Lewis (The Church Rambler), Bath Herald (1876)
4 www.thepeerage.com/p1252.htm (2016)
5 Mr Nick Mould, Duchy of Cornwall (2018)

Other sources:
Valor Ecclesiasticus (Church valuation) 1535 - commissioned by Henry VIII.

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Possible meanings of the Place Name 'Saltford'

Saltford ("Sallford") shown on a 1610 map of Somersetshire
created by John Speede during the reign of Elizabeth I

"A Dictionary of British Place-Names (Oxford Paperback Reference)" by A.D. Mill, Emeritus Reader in Medieval English, University of London, and a member of the Council of the English Place-Name Society and of the Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland, suggests:-

   Saltford, Somerset

   1086   Sanford   (Domesday Book) (link for more info)
   1229   Salford    (no source given)
   1291   Saltford   (no source given)

and concludes: "Probably 'salt-water ford' but the first element may, originally have been 'salh' meaning 'sallow, willow' ".

So, the derivation of Saltford's place name could be one of the following:

1.'Salt-ford', because in those days there were no weirs or locks on the River Avon and water here could have been salty, whereas, the tidal salt water did not reach the riverside village of Freshford, on the Avon to the east of Bath. Sal is also the Latin word for salt.

2. The 1229 entry in Mill's book refers to 'Sal-ford', meaning 'ford of the willows'. That is also plausible - indeed, you will see many picturesque willows along the bank here.

3. The Domesday Book entry for this place was 'San-ford' and that could have come from 'Sand-ford' because the banks of 'The Shallows' are sandy.

4. Another interpretation of 'Salt-ford' held locally by some residents is that the ford could have been named after the salt that may have been carried across the ford as a trade item.


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