Have you ever wondered what role manors played in Medieval local government? For many centuries the lives of our ancestors were controlled by the Lord of the manor on which they lived. This was because the system of parishes covering England was not in place until c. 1300. The manor was the basic unit of local government until the parish took over this role in Tudor times. Even then, manors remained important.
The Lord’s manor courts collected income in fines and rents and recorded the names of his tenants. They appointed officers such as constables and haywards, and controlled the quality of local bread and ale. The chief tenants used the manor courts to organise collective farming on the open fields, before these were enclosed into farms in the 1700s and 1800s. After enclosure, manor courts still had the power to transfer copyhold, or leasehold, property.