Manors of Ancient Parish of Betchworth

reproduced with the kind permission of Jane LeCluse


The manors are: Aglonds More; East Betchworth; Brockham; West Betchworth and Wonham

The manors did not hold land only within the parish of Betchworth. East Betchworth, apart from owning land in the then hamlet of Brockham, also held land in Charlwood, Headley and Newdigate. Brockham held land in Betchworth and Leigh and West Betchworth held land in Brockham, Dorking and Holmwood. This last manor, despite its name, is usually listed under Dorking. Its lands stretch down the border between Brockham and Dorking.

Conversely other manors also held odd pieces of land in the parish of Betchworth, for example Reigate Priory.

East Betchworth was the original manor. The other manors were carved out of it at various times. Aglonds possibly came into being in 1409 with a conveyance of certain lands.  Brockham Manor may have begun early in the twelve hundreds. It became a separateparishin 1848. Wonham manor possibly dates back to c.1199 with a grant of land to William de Wonham. It is possible that the land which made up the manor of West Betchworth is referred to in Domesday Survey under Dorking, as being held by Richard of Tonbridge and "belongs to no manor".

Aglonds More Manor is also known as Le More and More Place. There are only a few extant documents for this manor. The earliest Court Roll dates from 1339, and runs (non-consecutively) until 1476, where there is a long break. They begin again in 1542 and run, again non-consecutively, until 1568. There are also several rentals during these periods.

Brockham Manor has a fine set of Manorial documents dating back to 1272 for both Account Rolls and Court Rolls. They run (again non-consecutively) until 1738, with rentals, surrenders and admissions to land carrying on until 1849. The last Rental is in 1871. There are also maps showing the manor at various times, and custumals which give the customs of the manor, from 1798-1825.

East Betchworth Manor also has a good set of manorial documents. The first Court Roll dates from 1325 and the Accounts from two years later. The first Rental is dated 1482. The last Court Roll is 1776, but other documents, such as Quit Rentals and Tenant list go up to 1872. None of the series of documents are consecutive runs. For this Manor, maps, plans and custumals are also extant.

Wonham Manor has few documents which survive. The Court Rolls date from 1532 and run to 1788, but only seventeen Courts survive for this period. Other documents include a Survey dated 1662-1716 and one Rental for 1732.

West Betchworth Manor Only four Court Rolls are known to survive: 1539, 1604, 1776 and 1790. Quit Rents for 1823.

The Documents:

The majority of manorial documents are written in Latin until c.1750, when they began to be written in English; the exception being the period of the Commonwealth, when they were written in English. The Latin is Mediaeval Latin, so not exactly the same as Classical Latin. It is also highly abbreviated. Some documents are in good condition. Others look as if they have been sitting in water, or been eaten by rodents. So apart from the fact that no set of manorial documents is complete, even those we have cannot always be read, or parts of them are missing. But even so, there is an immense amount of information waiting to be researched analysed and made public.

The Information in the Documents:

From the vast amount of information held in these documents, there should be something of interest for anyone interested in history, and especially the history of a place. The Court Rolls tell us about the people who lived on the manor, the land they held, the entry and other fines they had to pay to hold land, the rent they paid each year, and the customs of the manor which often dictated to whom the land passed after the holder's death. They therefore also give a lot of detail about the families concerned. For those interested in tracing their family history, manorial documents are a goldmine - as long as you know where your family lived, you can discover if any manorial documents are available. The index to all known manorial documents is gradually being put online (eventually the complete index will be available). The organisation is the Manorial Documents Register at:   Click on Advanced Search to find the list of Parishes. It will then bring up the known manors and the whereabouts of the documents.

Apart from personal and landholding data, there are also the misdemeanours which were brought before the manorial court. These include such things as bridge repairs; ditches unscoured; hedges uncut; encroachment and enclosure on the common-lands or wastes of the manor; illegally building cottages; trespass; straying animals and obstructing footpaths. Orders were given for these things to be rectified by named individuals within a certain time, and the fine penalty if not carried out. There is a short list of some misdemeanours in the eponymous table. From that you will see that some things dragged on for years!

The early Account Rolls, especially those in the 1300's give a fascinating insight into the agriculture of the manor. The accounts relate to the demesne farms of the Lord of the Manor. In the 1300's he was often farming the demesne himself, rather than letting it out to others for a rent per annum. The accounts give in minute detail exactly what was spent (down to the last nail for a repair, including the type of nail) and the amount of livestock, grain harvest etc, and what it was worth. At this time, many of the peasants had to do weekly works for the Lord, or other works as required, the names of these people are recorded. If they had managed to change the work for a fee, this is also recorded with their name, and often what it was in exchange for.

Manorial officials were elected or appointed each year. The office of Reeve was originally undertaken by one of the un-free tenants of the Lord. Often the person appointed held one of certain landholdings in the manor. He was similar to a foreman, overseeing the workers on the Lord's lands, ensuring they came to work when they should, and keeping accounts of any monies which passed through his hands. The Constable ensured that law and order was kept on the manor, and the Headboroughs were under him. The office of the Headborough changed over time, but in the 1600s they looked after the law and order of smaller parts of the manor. In the case of Betchworth, there were Headboroughs for East Betchworth (mainly in what we know consider to be "Betchworth"), Brockham, Wonham and Newdigate. Ale Tasters - a marvellous job some might feel - were not only responsible for ensuring the quality of the ale was as it should be, but they also ensured that the weights and measures used on the manor were accurate. There were two of these; one for East Betchworth and one for Brockham. Beadles were minor officers, often acting as messengers.

link to Manorial Officals

link to Pannage

Jane LeCluse  July 2010