Manorial rights

    Register now to preserve manorial rights


    All manorial rights must be registered with the Land Registry by 13 October, otherwise they will be lost on the subsequent sale of the land to which they apply. Landowners are therefore advised to act now to ensure that their manorial rights are registered — and preserved.

    Manorial rights come with the Lordship of a Manor and can be hugely varied: they may include the rights to shipwrecks; the right to operate a ferry across a river; the right to hold fairs or markets; sporting rights; and — most important in terms of potential value — the right to extract minerals.

    ‘The value of manorial rights should not be underestimated,’ warns Crispin Mahony of Savills Rural. ‘Trustees in particular should consider whether they have any manorial rights, which should be registered in order to comply with their duties as Trustees and avoid the risk of beneficiaries making claims against them for failure to preserve trust property.

    ‘Ultimately, the decision to register should balance the cost of the registration process, which could run into thousands of pounds, against the potential benefits of preserving the rights. The research and registration process can be lengthy, so with less than four months until the deadline this is the last chance for landowners to take steps to preserve their manorial rights.

    ‘Mineral rights are often the most valuable. Silver, gold, oil and gas are owned by the Crown. Coal is more complex and requires careful research. Generally, mineral rights are limited to sand, gravel, stone and clay.

    ‘Manorial rights are owned separately from the surface land, so although the surface owner can carry out normal agricultural operations, deeper works which could interfere with minerals require the consent of the Lord of the Manor. There are numerous cases where the mineral owner has received compensation to allow surface development to proceed.’

    Manorial rights generally occur where the land is former copyhold of a manor, or was subject to an inclosure award. Copyhold tenants held the land from the Lord of the Manor, who usually retained the sporting and mineral rights. In 1926 all copyhold tenancies were converted into freehold ownerships; however, the manorial rights remained with the Lord of the Manor and became ‘overriding interests’. Likewise, when commons and wastes were inclosed in the 18th and 19th centuries, sporting and mineral rights were sometimes retained by the Lord of the Manor, and also became overriding interests.

    Hitherto, overriding interests have been protected by law without the requirement for them to be registered at the Land Registry. But the Land Registration Act 2002 states that for manorial rights to continue they must be registered by the 13 October 2013. If they are not registered, the overriding interests will be lost on any subsequent sale of the property over which they extend.

    The registration process

    The first step for registration is to establish ownership of a manor and the extent of the manorial lands to which the rights apply. A historical researcher will often be required to examine manorial records, enfranchisement deeds and inclosure awards.

    An application, along with the supporting evidence of ownership, may then be submitted to the Land Registry, which will notify the surface owners (if they are registered) of the application. It is possible that the surface owner may object to the registration of the manorial rights, especially if he was not aware of the existence of the overriding interests, and even more so if he had been exercising the rights himself. In such circumstances the surface owner may argue that he has acquired the rights and that the Lord of the Manor has abandoned them, which could lead to a legal dispute.


    Key contacts

    Crispin Mahony

    Crispin Mahony

    Head of Department

    Savills Winchester

    +44 (0) 1962 834 011

    +44 (0) 1962 834 011