One remnant of medieval life that arouses curiosity about its origins is the ‘hundred house’. A hundred was an administrative division of a county which is thought to have been based in the 10th century on an area of land that could support a hundred households. In other words, the hundred was a form of local government – with powers to raise taxes, organise a militia, and administer justice. It was overseen by a reeve who was in turn responsible to the sheriff of the shire (shire reeve) or county. In subsequent centuries as the population grew, there were many more people living in each hundred and its function gradually diminished to be replaced by other parochial and judicial authorities.
Hundred courts or moots were held monthly and presided over by the hundred reeve with a jury. Any appeals were referred to the sheriff at his shire court. Hundred courts were superseded by manorial courts in the Middle Ages.
The hundred house was a workhouse to house the poor and homeless but many served other purposes as general meeting places, hosting courts, collecting taxes, and holding fairs. Some of today’s roadside inns and pubs were former hundred houses, perpetuating their role as a place to meet.Posted in Blog, Historical records Tagged building history, documentary records, house detective, house history, hundred, old documents, record offices, research