The Great Domesday Book - Surrey - 1988 - Alecto Historical Editions, London - Set number 35 of a limited edition of 1, 000. ‘Domesday Book is England's first - and arguably most remarkable - public record. Although written more than nine centuries ago it is still legally admissible evidence on title to land. It is at once the foundation document of our national archival heritage, a matchless historical source and an icon linking England's past with her present and future.’ - Dr. Elizabeth Hallam, Public Record Office.

For anyone interested in where they live now or where they come from, Domesday reveals fascinating facts about customs, value and ownership of their village, town and county more than 900 years ago. It is the beginning of all local history.

In 1984 the Public Record Office at Kew took the historic decision to unbind the original Domesday manuscripts and invited Alecto Historical Editions to undertake the publication of the first and only ‘brilliant forgery’ or ‘indecently exact facsimile’, to quote Professor Geoffrey Martin, the then Keeper of Public Records and custodian of the original Domesday. Due to the fragility of the original, it is unlikely that this will be done again.

Three large folio volumes housed in their original slipcase, together with the prospectus, correspondence and limited edition certificate.
  The first volume contains the Domesday facsimile for Surrey and A modern Ordnance Survey map of Surrey, overlaid with the most important Domesday features that can still be recognised today. The second contains a new English translation, so arranged that each phrase and sentence appears in precisely the same position on each page as the scribe’s words. This volume includes indexes of people and places as well as a complete introduction to Surrey. The third volume, Domesday Studies, tells the story of how Domesday came to be compiled and includes 16 articles on various aspects of medieval life. There is also a glossary and general bibliography and the volume is copiously illustrated with maps, drawings and photographs.


At Christmas in 1085 William the Conqueror commanded his civil servants to survey the 34 Counties that then constituted England. This included classifying and valuing mills, plough lands, ox teams, saltpans, fish ponds, vineyards, castles, agriculture and trade.

With a population of around one and a half million people, the king needed to know who his tenants were, what title they had to their land and what it was worth for taxation purposes. But the survey also covers local customs and disputes thereby providing a picture of life in nearly every village and town almost ten centuries ago. It has also been consulted for legal precedent and was last cited in 1982, a mere 896 years after it was first written!

Of the 13,418 places named, almost all are still occupied but not as they were. Birmingham, for example, was merely a village, and Hampstead was valued at 5 shillings. We can still relate to, and trace, not only the place names but also those of people. Contrary to myth, not all of the country was forested – indeed, as much was under cultivation as in the 19th Century.

So detailed was its coverage and so invasive was the process of the survey that the native English nicknamed it Domesday Book, after the Day of Judgement against which there could be no appeal. Within a century this name had officially superseded its original names, the Winchester Roll or the King’s Roll.

In 1984 the Public Record Office at Kew took the historic decision to unbind the original Domesday manuscripts and invited Alecto Historical Editions to undertake the publication of a facsimile. Reproducing this as the first and only ‘brilliant forgery’ or ‘indecently exact facsimile’, to quote Professor Geoffrey Martin, the then Keeper of Public Records and custodian of the original Domesday, has taken many years. Not only was each double page carefully laid flat and photographed actual size using a plate camera the size of a modest family car, but it was then printed using a continuous-tone lithographic process, making so exact a copy of the original that the ‘hair’ side of the old sheepskin folios can be distinguished from the ‘flesh’ of the reverse.

‘Domesday Book is not only one of the most important documents in English history: it is one of the most extraordinary documents in any country’s history. We are lucky to have this remarkable snapshot of life in the late eleventh century.’ -
Lady Antonia Fraser.

Text with thanks from Addison Publications and Alecto Historical Editions Websites.


Three volumes, folio (11 x 15.5").
  Condition: Fine in fine slipcase.   Ref: 104068   Price: HK$ 2,000