The Manor of Henley-in-Arden
Court Leet & Court Baron

Henley-in-Arden's first charter was issued by Henry III in 1220. One of the early lords of the Manor was Peter de Montfort, who was killed at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. This resulted in Henley being burnt down. Another important Lord of the Manor was Thomas de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. He was one of the principal English commanders at the Battle of Crecy. His forces included 160 archers from Henley. Sir Ralph Boteler, who was Lord High Treasurer to Henry VI from 1444 to 1447, obtained from the King Henley's second charter in 1449.

The second charter granted by Henry VI on 16 May 1449 acknowledged that "Ralph Boteller, Lord de Seudeley, Knight, is tenant and owner of the Town and Manor of Henley-in-Arden…and he and all his ancestors tenants and owners of the Town and Manor aforesaid have had, and from the time whereof the memory of Man is not to the contrary were wont to have View of Frank Pledge of all the tenants and resiants within the same town and Manor, to be holden twice in the year at Henley." This charter also confirmed the right to hold a market on Monday of each week, but in addition conferred an unusual privilege to the Lord of the Manor and his Bailiffs in that officers of the Crown were precluded from entering the Town or Manor to execute writs or summons unless in default of the Lord of the Manor.

The earliest specific reference to the court as such occurs in 1333, when Peter de Montfort granted to Fulk the Armourer the lease of a shop in Henley at an annual rent of three shillings and suit of court twice a year. Detailed records of the court exist from 1546 and edited transcripts of the court rolls from 1546 to 1918 were published in 1919. The names of the High Bailiffs are recorded from 1477. The court declined in importance during the nineteenth century, but was revived in 1915 by the then Lord of the Manor, W J Fieldhouse. The court was specifically excluded by statute from the act which abolished extinct and antiquated courts. It retains its powers of presentment and its authority as a court of record. Its officers are elected annually in the Guild Hall by jurors who must have been resident in the town for a period of five years. The court administers the Guild Hall Trust, which owns the Guild Hall and other property in the town.

The present Lord of the Manor is Mrs Robin Hardy-Freed. The previous Lord of the Manor, Mr Joseph Hardy of Pittsburgh USA, generously established a Trust Fund for the purchase a house in the town dating from the late fourteenth century, which now acts as a Heritage Centre.

The Hertitage Centre is Henley-in-Arden's earliest recorded house ~ part 14th century, with revealed crown post. The town's history is recorded here, including a model of the Norman Castle, which once stood on The Mount, details of the ancient Market Cross, the Town Criers, and a chronicle of the origins of the famous ice-cream can also be seen. Henley-in-Arden is a unique street town with 12th and 15th century churches and a splendid Guild Hall.

Past Lords of The Manor from 1086

Court Leet & Court Baron in 2005