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
been absorbed into Parish Councils over the years.
Long may the Freeholders keep this tradition going.
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
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
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."