‘Manorial’ land rights given back to owners

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Manorial rights in Whitfield, currently owned by Worcester College, Oxford, have been given back to the owners of the properties which sit above them.

The College had moved to register its interests following a change in the law governing land registry. Manorial rights, which gives the owner rights to mine, hunt or fish on land, are a hangover from medieval times, when lands were divided into manors. When the lands were sold on, the manorial rights were often excluded from those sales.

Claire Jones, a partner at Darby Solicitors, said the rights over the land had always existed in the background. But the change in the law meant these now had to be registered on the title which is why property owners had been notified.

She added: “Worcester College’s intention was not to cause angst among people who have flats and houses in the village. They would not have any intention of exercising manorial rights in the back gardens of residential properties.” Ms Jones advised anyone in a residential property who had received a letter from the Land Registry that the College had registered manorial rights to appeal by filling in the necessary forms found on the registry’s website.

Claire Clarke, a Whitfield resident, said the whole issue had caused a lot of worry for around 80 households. With villagers concerned the registration could lead to future fracking on their land. She said: “I do not know what on earth they were thinking of doing it in the first place. I am absolutely delighted they have made this decision.”

Brackley-based estate agent director and co-owner Ben Macintyer, of Macintyers, said he thought manorial rights would not affect property prices as indemnity policies could be put in place to insure against them.