Eng­land’s last feu­dal vil­lage, with an inn, 10 cot­tages and 17 farms, is yours for £7mil­lion, writes Tom Ough

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - DAYS OUT -

Whis­per your name to your­self – your nor­mal, bor­ing, un­re­mark­able name. Now say it again, but add “Lord of the Manor of Laxton”. Mm­mmm. Much grander. Wouldn’t fit on many ap­pli­ca­tion forms, but it’s got a ring to it.

If you’re will­ing to pay £7 mil­lion for Eng­land’s last feu­dal vil­lage, the ti­tle could be yours. Laxton, Not­ting­hamshire (not to be con­fused with Laxton, east Northamp­ton­shire, which is def­i­nitely NOT for sale), com­prises 1,845 acres, on which re­side one inn, 10 cot­tages and 17 farms. Th­ese still share three large fields, each one di­vided, ac­cord­ing to ar­chaic custom, into strips.

Who­ever buys the whole ca­boo­dle from the Crown Es­tate (which ac­quired Laxton in 1981 af­ter Ger­vas Evelyn Pier­re­pont, 6th Earl Man­vers, sold it to the Govern­ment in 1952) will have the ti­tle thrown in, too. The buyer will be re­quired to main­tain the open-field farm­ing sys­tem, which is the last of its kind in the coun­try.

Open-field farm­ing was largely elim­i­nated fol­low­ing the En­clo­sure

Act of 1773, which al­lowed landown­ers to con­sol­i­date land­hold­ings, but it sur­vives here, thanks in part to lo­cal farm­ers’ sup­port for the tra­di­tion.

They also main­tain a mano­rial or “leet court”, the low­est court in the land, which meets ev­ery De­cem­ber at the vil­lage pub and im­poses small fines on farm­ers who break rules. (Daytripper would like to take this op­por­tu­nity to ad­mon­ish one Kevin Sax­ilby, who, ac­cord­ing to the Ne­wark Ad­ver­tiser, was fined £10 a year ago for “caus­ing spray dam­age to Roe­buck Syke.” Let that be a les­son to you, Mr Sax­ilby.

Wary of caus­ing spray dam­age, but cu­ri­ous about this strange, an­cient vil­lage, we vis­ited late in Oc­to­ber. Laxton isn’t much more than the in­ter­sec­tion of three coun­try­side roads, with cot­tages at the cen­tre and some semis a lit­tle way fur­ther out. Where the roads meet, there’s the inn where the leet court is con­vened, and a vis­i­tor cen­tre (read: large room with maps and posters) in its car park. The pub was shut for the day. The vis­i­tor cen­tre was un­manned. It was as if we were in a ghost town, or one of those vil­lages which was sud­denly aban­doned and so re­mains eerily sus­pended in his­tory.

If we looked through one of the cot­tage win­dows, per­haps we’d see a pot of por­ridge, left out for decades, as solid as dried ce­ment. Maybe you’re won­der­ing what peo­ple used to do for fun around here. The an­swer, we’d learned from the vis­i­tor cen­tre, is that there were more home brew­ers here by the end of the 19th cen­tury than any­where else in the area.

Even­tu­ally we saw some dog walk­ers. Laxton lived. A cou­ple showed us an old motte and bai­ley for­ti­fi­ca­tion within sight of the church. From its peak we could see Lin­coln Cathe­dral, 20 miles to the east, and a few of the open-field farms that make Laxton a his­tor­i­cal rar­ity. One day, reader, this could all be yours.

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