Manors and minerals

A recent case on manors and minerals — Wynne-Finch v Natural Resources Body for Wales [2021] EWCA Civ 1473 — concerned the rights to a low-grade form of rock known as “mudstone”, underlying substantial areas of land in Wales.

The land comprised two manors, which would originally have owned everything beneath the surface, including valuable minerals and other resources.  The question was whether the right to mudstone had been granted away over the years, or whether it had been reserved and not granted away when land was disposed of,  as had been done for more valuable minerals.

The case involved a careful consideration of the history of the two manors, going back to the 16th and 17th centuries.  In the event, it was decided that the right to mudstone under the land had not been reserved.  Because of its low commercial value it was not to be regarded as in the same category as more valuable minerals.  It therefore did not belong to the current owners of the manors.

Manors and minerals, both legal concepts with a long history, remain important today.  An understanding of the history is essential to the resolution of disputes.  In many cases, a manor has been shorn of all its lands and other assets, so that nothing remains but the title.    In others, however, a manor may carry with it the right to manorial records, or a franchise (the most important being the right to hold a fair or market) or even small areas of land, such as land which was once part of the “waste” land of a manor.  Manorial titles can no longer be registered on the Land Register.  The word “manor”, however, remains full of significance, being applied to Manor houses, and other buildings and places which once formed part of the relevant manor.

See our Historic law page.

For our publishing website, please see