Medieval Manor

Bratton Clovelly Manor Rolls

The concept of ‘manors’ arrived in England and Wales with William and the Domesday Book. His surveyors assumed that all land was owned by the Crown and distributed to lords, or Tenants-in-Chief, who owed military service in return. As the land was let to tenants, the concept evolved into specific areas of land that were worked by tenants for the lord of the manor. Although the concept of manor evolved greatly through the centuries, traditions persisted and the last Lady of Bratton Manor appears to have been Elizabeth Manning who was buried at St Mary’s in 1913.

We are fortunate to have a stunning survival of many Bratton Clovelly rolls loaned to the Devon Record Office in the 1950s and now preserved for the future. The following rolls are accessible, capturing over 60 court sessions :

  • 1377-78: 4 sessions
  • 1408-09: 7 sessions
  • 1416 : 3 sessions
  • 1422-23: 9 sessions
  • 1431-32: 8 sessions
  • 1438 : 4 sessions
  • 1552-53: 5 sessions
  • 1627-28: 11 sessions
  • 1684-85: 10 sessions
  • 1493 : Compotus (account)
Bratton Manor Roll

Bratton Manor Roll

We were also fortunate to find the following translation of the 1377 Manor Roll on the Internet some years back. In the preface, the authors who prepared the description of the roll identify the source of the translation as a work by Rev T W Whale titled Manors in Bratton Clovelly and published in Transactions of the Devon Record Society, Vol 27 in 1895. We’ll add more on this fine work in future.

Several years ago, Devon Heritage Centre digitised these rolls for us and we arranged to have them translated. We are delighted to say that the translations have just completed and we will be making the court roll information available on the website as soon as possible. This is an exciting project and it is already helping us to better understand life in Bratton Clovelly from the 14th to 17th centuries.