The term “Manor Court” is often heard in the Orton area and some may wonder just what this is and how it started.

Each Manor (an estate granted from a superior Lord or King) belonged to “The Lord of the Manor” and it was his responsibility to organise the life and maintenance of his manor.

In the case of Orton the first Lord of the Manor appears to be Gamel de Pennington in the reign of Henry II A.D. 1154. About 100 years later the Manor was divided into moieties between the Dacres and the Musgraves. The Dacres seemed to have kept their moiety but the Musgraves kept dividing theirs. These moieties were not separated by boundaries but the owner of each moiety had tenants interdispersed throughout the whole manor. A division seems to have been made according to the lord's rent, however, since very ancient times this manor was divided into two constablewicks and were known by the names of Orton Lordship and Raisbeck Lordship. This division of land continued and portions were sold to trustees for the use of the tenants. In the 17th century the tenants of the Manors of Raisbeck and Orton bought their freehold but the Manor Court still continued to administer common lands and collect rent due to the manor. By the mid 18th century Orton and Raisbeck started holding a single court at Orton. The Enclosure Act came into force in 1769 and commissioners were appointed to implement it. At this time certain tenants of Raisbeck had turbury rights. (The right to cut peat). The commissioners tried allotting a large part of the commons in Raisbeck to the owners of land in Orton, even though they were separate manors. The freeholders of Raisbeck were not happy and made a legal challenge and this delayed the implementation of the Enclosure Act in this area for another 10 years.
Orton Manor Court and its Manorial Rights have now become vested in the Freeholders of Orton and Raisbeck who elect a committee every 3 years and this committee meets 3 times a year.
At this time Orton Manor Court is looking very healthy and the committee are very active collecting rents and dues as well as trying to look at ways to improve our area that they control.
Under the current Stewardship of Wendy Higgins they are actively trying to obtain grants to renovate Dame School at Raisbeck, list and register all land that it owns and tidy some of the areas within Orton Village.
We are, reputedly, one of the last Manor Courts in England as others have been absorbed into Parish Councils over the years.
Long may the Freeholders keep this tradition going.

Manor Court Boundary

According to "The History of Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland" in 1777 the boundaries were as follows:

"As a certain syke between Overton and the hamlet of Rayssebeck runs through the middle of Freemire down into the Bibeck, and by the middle of the water of Tybay, and so going up the middle of the water of Tybay to the Scoddigate of Hanskew as Boudirdal beck falls into Tybay. And so going up by the boundaries of Raustindall, Crosseby Gerard and Little Askeby, and the aforesaid hamlet of Rayssebeck in the vill of Overton aforesaid, to the top of the Sker, by the right metes and boundaries between Great Askeby and the Grange thereof and the aforementioned hamlet unto the Hundehow, and so going down from the Hundehow by the nearest way into the aforesaid sike, runnig through the middle of Freemire"

The following description of the boundaries of Orton Manor is thought to have been done by Rev Harold Sawrey.

" Beginning at a certain round stone about 140 yards towards the south-west from a certain close called Pickerings Close, from thence in a straight line upwards to Brentbank-How, from thence in a straight line to the beacon on Orton Scar, from thence in a straight line to the highest part of Cattle How, from thence in a straight line 5 yards north of a quarry towards the north of Whelps End, from thence in a straight line to Greengar (scar?) Well, from thence in a straight line to Gibson's Stone, thence down the Wood Gates to Sproat Keld Well, from thence down the runner to Birkbeck Water, from thence down Birkbeck water till the same runs into the River Lune, thence up the River Lune to where Bowderdale Beck comes into the said river, from thence to a wall or fence which divided and seperates the two closes of Robert Murthwaite and Edmond Whitehead on the other to the waste or common and from the end of the said wall or fence adjoining the said commons in a direct line to the middle of that part of Sunbiggin Tarn which is always covered in water."