Lords of the Manor and Headley Heath

Open views of Headley Heath years ago © Kenneth Scowen

Open views of Headley Heath years ago

In the 18th century Headley was part of Ashtead Park Estate. Manors were bought and sold then as today but then the lord of the manor was much more powerful. He controlled the use of his land and the lives of the population, to a great extent; today the title in most cases is just a title without powers.

Rights of the Common

The lord granted Rights of Common to his tenants which gave them the right to use the land to graze animals, collect wood and furze and even, in some cases, fishing rights. Not all tenants had all the rights and the rights were attached to a cottage or property not to a person.

In places like the New Forest these rights are still actively used. At Headley, as in many other places, the majority of these ancient rights were taken away by the 1965 Commons Registration Act. However, at Headley one cottage still has the right to graze geese on Headley Heath.

The ownership of Headley Manor passed from Ashtead Park Estate to the High Ashurst Estate and remained with them until just after the First World War, when it was sold to the Crookenden family of Headley.

Crookendens

In 1946 Mr and Mrs Crookenden gave the Lordship of the Manor of Headley, which includes the heath and many small plots of land round Headley (the Manor Waste), to the National Trust.

Peter Denyer, Friend of Headley Heath