Ancient demesne


Also found in: Legal.
(Eng. Law) a tenure by which all manors belonging to the crown, in the reign of William the Conqueror, were held. The numbers, names, etc., of these were all entered in a book called Domesday Book.
(Eng. Law) See under Ancient.

See also: Ancient, Demesne

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The question of what was "ancient demesne" - that is land held directly by King William or by his Saxon predecessor (and therefore now his as well) - was the one best answered by Domesday, and in a sense most important to the man who commissioned it.