14 Nov 1087
‘ To Janet and our beloved children who live in the south of Normandy.
Life in Shropshire is a very peculiar thing as of present.
King William needs to arrange the funds of tax for buildings, the community and perhaps also his own pastimes.
A massive investigation is taking place. I would estimated it could go on for at least 2 years – if not longer. The system involves the tenants-in-chief visiting areas that are not just local but also ones that are many hundreds of miles/ kms away.
Our tenants in chief move left.. for Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. The inspector to carry out base check is Henry de Farrers from Derbyshire. To sum up his attitude in inspection would be ‘grotty’ at worst and ‘very boisterous’ at best! He has a camp situated outside my motte and bailey, and a few hundred metres from the village.
I know him briefly from the Battle of Hastings and when William came to my masters and gave land on that special day. Since I have less rank than he does, he deigns to treat me like just another shepherd.
He comes to the village or castle every hour and then retreats to his tent to update his journal.
He also boasts that Derbyshire is far superior – yet bias does not affect me in the slightest”!. As an inspector he knocks at a townsman’s house and comes in with three guards. I have not experienced it like my people have done but the rumours – which I can take seriously given all that I know otherwise -prove how ‘iron-fisted’ he really is.
With my castle he treats it only marginally better than the town.. I feel that he delves a little too much into the family treasures but at least he admires them into the bargain. It is another 10 days before he leaves..
My wife, Valanice has a little bit more patience than I do.
Until I have an opportunity to visit you, please keep good care of my children.
Valanice – (what’s in a name??)