Lord of manor renounces mineral rights

gold market

A lord of the manor has made peace with the local villagers after causing outrage by asserting his rights over their land.

Roy Hart, who bought the manorial title at auction 35 years ago, wrote to the residents of Rettendon, Essex, claiming fishing, shooting and mineral rights over their land. Following an outcry, though, he has promised to extinguish the rights.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "I'm not acting like a big ogre at all, and I will sign an affidavit to say that I won't touch people's properties."

Manorial rights are the ancient rights of the lord of the manor over land that later became freehold.

Mr Hart had written to the villagers under legal advice. Under Land Registry rules, every holder of a manorial title was required to register his or her interest by 13 October this year; otherwise, the rights would be extinguished with the next sale of the manorial property - in this case a house called Toad Hall.

"I didn't like the tone of the letter myself," he confessed, explaining that he'd wanted to make sure he didn't lose the small income from the rental of telegraph poles.

Mr Hart is not the only lord of the manor to have found himself unpopular for asserting his rights. Last week, a protest was held at the gates of Hatfield House in Hertfordshire over the Marquess of Salisbury's registration of rights in Welwyn Garden City.

Nottingham residents are also concerned by the claims of the Duke of Rutland, with some worried that the mineral rights could lead to drilling for natural gas. Even Prince Charles has caused alarm amongst Cornish residents by registering mineral rights on over 130,000 acres of land. The Crown has done the same for its 360,000 acres, and the Church of England for its 500,000.

Manorial Lordships can be bought through the Manorial Society of Great Britain; most cost around £10,000, and there's a list of available titles here. But be warned: "There is no value in owning mineral rights if there are no commercially exploitable minerals, such as granite or aggregate," says the society, "and purchasers should not expect a manorial Eldorado."

The house that hasn't changed in 50 years
See Gallery
Lord of manor renounces mineral rights
John Collingwood has lived in the house all of his life.
He still uses the cooker his mother bought some 65 years ago, and the 1965 fridge.
Some things even pre-date him, with bathroom fittings from 1925.
The retired textile worker doesn't believe in throwing things away just because there's something newer and more fancy on the market.
He was reluctant to have central heating installed.
Collingwood with a collection of antique vacuum cleaners.
Rather than splashing his cash on entertainment, he still uses a wind-up gramophone and a radio from 1950.
The resurgence 1950s and 1960s style means that some of the items he has are in high demand - and he's been made offers on some of his period furniture.
He does have one newer item though!
This laundry room was originally an air raid shelter during WWII.

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