From 13 October 2013, rights reserved to the lord of the manor
will cease to be legally overriding interests when that land is
sold, unless they are registered at the Land Registry. This means
that once an arm's length purchaser has paid to buy the
property over which the lord of the manor could exercise the
rights, the lord's rights will be lost forever.
Manorial rights are not the rights which might have been
expressly reserved out of sales from Estates. Those rights are of a
different legal type and are not affected by the 2013 date. The
rights to be registered are those relating to freehold land which
used to be held as 'copyhold'. Copyhold is an ancient form
of land tenure where the occupant held the land as a tenant of the
lord of the manor. After 1840, most copyholders were able to obtain
the freehold of their land, a process known as enfranchisement.
During the enfranchisement, some lords of the manor, although not
all of them, reserved rights over the copyhold land to themselves.
The rights reserved of particular interest to modern landowners are
mineral and sporting rights.
We have been approached by several Estates who are interested in
investigating whether they have manorial rights worth registering.
The first step is to establish what rights, if any, exist and are
documented. This requires:
a brief review of the Settled Land Act vesting deeds for the
Estate to see if any manors are listed;
an investigation at the public records office at Kew or online
to see if there are any court books for the manors for the relevant
period (post 1840). The records are online for some counties, but
a review of the court books at the county records office or in
the Estate archives, if held there, to look for possible copyhold
a review of a selection of the copyhold records to see if the
manor was one which by custom reserved rights such as mineral or
Assuming the initial steps are successful, the next stage would
involve going through the individual records and matching the
copyhold land against modern OS plans so that title could be
deduced to the Land Registry and the rights registered. This is a
more time consuming exercise than the initial review. However, it
would be worth carrying out the registration if it looked as though
there were significant parcels of open land with manorial minerals
or other valuable rights reserved to the lord of the manor.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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