The Ely Coucher Book, 1249-50. The Bishop of Ely's manors in the Cambridgeshire fenland
The Ely Coucher Book is one of the great unpublished manuscript sources for the high middle ages. It was drawn up for the Bishop of Ely in 1249–50 to record information about his ‘churches, demesnes, meadows, pastures, woods, marshes and fisheries’, and provides an exceptionally detailed record of his manorial holdings. Its description of one of the most important episcopal estates in medieval England allows the reader the opportunity to step into the undrained medieval fenland landscape and to move among its inhabitants through its villages, their fields and fisheries.
This translation of the returns for all seventeen of the bishop’s Cambridgeshire manors was made by Professor Edward Miller, author of the classic account of the Ely estate, but had yet to be made ready for publication at the time of his death in 2000. That essential editorial work has been undertaken by Dr Frances Willmoth and Dr Susan Oosthuizen, who have chosen the evocative images to complement the description of each manor.