Manorial System

An area of land consisting of the lord of the manor’s demesne, which he farmed himself, and of other lands farmed by tenants or used as common pasture and waste.

The manorial system was in existence by the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086. It was a territorial unit, with the landlord ultimately being a tenant of the Crown. Much land was granted in this way after the Norman Conquest in 1066. In the medieval period the manor was an economic unit. Tenants paid rent to the lord or gave certain services, such as working on the lord’s land. The manor also had a legal function. Transfer of land between tenants was controlled by the manor court and tenants who failed to carry out work like repairing ditches or tracks within the manor could be fined at the court. Some manorial courts continued to meet until the early 20th century. Some commons and open spaces have been preserved because local authorities bought manors which included control over the common land.

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