Manorial rights

The following Property practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Manorial rights
  • Copyhold
  • Inclosure
  • Registration of manors and manorial rights
  • Manorial rights as a former overriding interest
  • Registration of manorial rights
  • Manorial rights already registered
  • The value of manorial rights
  • Possible reform

Manorial rights

Manorial rights are relics of the feudal system of land tenure. They can still exist in relation to land that:

  1. is former copyhold land, or

  2. was inclosed pursuant to an inclosure award


In medieval times, the lord of the manor would allow local inhabitants to occupy and work open land within the manor in return for payment (in cash or in kind (in the form of tithes and corn rents)) or services (ie labour or military service).

In addition, the lord of the manor retained rights over the land. These manorial rights attached to the lordship (ie the title ‘lord of the manor’) and not to the land of the manor.

Over time, the rights of the occupiers came to be recognised by the courts as a distinct form of land tenure, known as copyhold. However, copyhold was abolished on 1 January 1926 (after which date the only estates capable of existing in land are freehold and leasehold). All copyhold land was compulsorily enfranchised (ie the copyholder was vested with a freehold or leasehold title). Prior to the Law of Property Act 1925 (LPA 1925), a number of earlier Copyhold Acts had permitted voluntary enfranchisement of copyhold land. Both these Acts and LPA 1925 nonetheless allowed the lord’s manorial rights to be preserved.

A comprehensive list of these manorial rights was contained in Law of Property Act

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