Lt Col J W Molyneux-Child, lord of the Surrey manors of Dedswell and Papworth in the hundred of Woking and the parish of Send, gave the Barnes and Mortlake History Society an account of the origins of manors, and how he has revived the old customs to raise money for charity.

Manor, he explained, has three meanings: a large house, a landed estate and, by the 15th century, a landed property in which the lord exercised legal jurisdiction over the tenants in a private court.

When William the Conqueror’s commissioners collected information for the Domesday Book, they visited the manor courts known either as the Court Baron or the Court Leet. These courts, comprising local people, realised that the information was almost certainly being gathered for tax purposes, and so would deliberately return values about 20 per cent below the truth. In turn, the commissioners would raise the values in the returns by about 20 per cent, so that the final figures were more or less accurate.

The sources of modern information about the manors are the Court Rolls, which in the case of Papworth start in 1424. In earlier times, tenants were required to work for the lord of the manor in return for their land, but by the end of the Middle Ages, such dues in kind had largely been replaced by rents as being more practical and easier to enforce.

Officials of the manor would include a steward, chaplain and beadle. There was also a hayward - responsible for maintaining the hedges. The ale-taster did the obvious and also checked that the baker had not put stones in the bread to add to the weight by which it was sold.

The manorial hangman has not been allowed to hang anyone since 1150, but could still use the stocks, whipping post, pillory or ducking stool to punish miscreants.