Fancy becoming a lord or lady? Four Norfolk lordships are set to go to auction
- Credit: IAN BURT
Many have dreamed of becoming a lord or lady of the manor and now for some it could become a reality.
Four Norfolk lordships are ready to be snatched up by the highest bidder when they go to auction at the end of this month.
The titles for Bigods-in-Mundford and West Tofts - both near Thetford - and Tottenhill and Watlington - both near King's Lynn - are estimated to fetch between £5,000 and £7,500 each.
The new lords and ladies will be eligible for membership of the Manorial Society of Great Britain and can add their title to documents including passports and bank cards.
There may even be manorial rights attached to the titles - for example common land- but this is not guaranteed.
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With the exception of Watlington, the manors are in Domesday Book, which was compiled in 1086 for William the Conqueror as an inventory of the principal landholders in the comparatively new Norman kingdom of England.
Robert Smith, from Manorial Auctioneers, said: 'People usually buy them because they live there, or they were born there.
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'It becomes very personal for people and they hope that their kids can take them on.'
On the popularity of buying a lordship he said: 'Lords of the manor are hand-made down the centuries and I think there is that element.'
Bigods was, until recently, part of the Lynford Hall Estate, which was broken up after 40 years in the hands of the late Gerald Rand.
West Tofts was also part of the estate and the title includes a large coloured map of the estate, showing West Tofts and its other manors.
The manors of Tottenhill and Watlington were acquired during the 1920s by Dr Richard Edelston, a solicitor, who built up a collection of around 20 titles spanning from the River Tees to Cambridgeshire.
The titles were left to Andrew Hanby-Holmes, whose widow is now offering them for sale.
One of the biggest sales was that of the Lordship of the Manor of Wimbledon by Earl Spencer in 1996, which went for £171,000.
The auction will take place at Stationers Hall in London, on Tuesday, June 27 by Manorial Auctioneers Limited.
History of the lordships
It was named after the Bigods family who held more than 100 lordships across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
Roger Bigord joined the rebellions against William the Conqueror's second son William Rufus in 1088.
He was given the manor of Framlingham and became Steward of the Royal Household.
It is believed the name of the manor was known as 'Tops' during the 11th century, signifying a house or a cottage.
In l682 Henry Jermyn, the Earl of St Albans, was the Lord of the Manor.
He was a wealthy property developer, and worked, with King Charles II's support, on developing the area of London, near Westminster, known as St James's.
The lordship of Tottenhill, West Briggs and Wormgay came into the hands of the Bardolf family, the first of whom was Thomas, who was Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk between 1170 and 1175.
There were at least two manors at the time of the Domesday Book, known as Little Domesday, although Watlington by name is not mentioned.
In the 12th century, the Lords of the place held it through two other Lordships - Shouldham and Westbrigg and an honor, Wormegay.
The name Watlington is derived from the early village's geographical location - which was by the Great Ouse River.