Unusual tenures of Nottinghamshire

Photo:The Wolf Hunt House

The Wolf Hunt House

High Street front

Photo:Wolf Hunt House rear

Wolf Hunt House rear

Medieval doorway, stonework at rear

Photo:Cumin seed

Cumin seed

Photo:A pair of gloves

A pair of gloves

Photo:One steel needle

One steel needle

By R B Parish

Folks from mud-wall’d tenement, Bring landlords pepper corns for Rent.”

In Mansfield Woodhouse is an old house called Wolf Hunt house, this house recalls an ancient quit rent where the owner of the property would live there rent free on the proviso that they would blow a horn to scare away wolves. This was established when Henry VI gave 13 acres of land to Sir Robert Plumpton.  This is an unusual, perhaps unique type of quit rent. Rents which are small or trivial in nature but recognise the real owner of the property. Often these rents were red roses, as noted in the article on Rose rents, however there are some very odd tenures and rent agreements established in the country.

Many of these were arrangements with the King, and established both loyalty and the provision for the monarch’s pleasure often when he visited the area. For example, a Sparrowhawk and one penny was given at Easter by Robert de Bingham and his heirs, obviously to provide the King with the sport of falconry. For the sport of archery, Reginald de Colwick held land on supplying 12 arrows to the King when he came to Nottingham castle once a year. Although in, Over Colwick he had to pay twelve barbed arrows when he should come, perhaps it was worth more.

Sometimes the gifts had a battle association; Edward Willoughby held land in Calton by doing service with a catapulta, a medieval siege engine of sorts, or often it was the provision of a horse. A Roger Rastall held lands of King John in Bulwell for the payment every year of a horse and halter. Land was held at Cuckney for shoeing the conqueror’s palfrey ‘upon four feet with the Kings’s nails.” The serjeantry of Willoughby was to owe his army in Wales, one horse, price 3s 4d, one sack, one large iron pot and one horse collar and canvas cloth worth one penny. Stephen de la Hay held lands at    by services of finding a man-at-arms forty days at his own charge at time of war.

To return to the opening line, peppercorn rent is still an often heard term and Nottinghamshire had a number, although often cumin, a more expensive spice was added to the mix. For example Hugh:

“shall render each year to me and my successors one pound of incense and one pound of cummin, in lieu of all service except service to the King (forinsecum servitium), and I and my successors will render for the same land to William de Staunton and his heirs, each year at Christmas, one pound of cummin, doing (also) the service to the King which belongs to the said two bovates of land. Moreover, lest by my craft the said service may be extorted or withheld from the said William and his heirs.”

In Herny VIIIth reign, Elston was held for one pound of cumin seed, two pairs of gloves and one steel needle’ and land at Kinoulton was held for one pound of pepper and one pound of cumin in 1304. Spice or seasoning rents were common, salt also figures. At the Domesday, the tenant of Saundby had to provide it for the King’s fish. A more expensive tithe rent was recalled at Attenborough to the Prior of Lenton being one pound of frankincense.

Often the rent would include gifts for the King.  Water de Marsh held the Manor of Cottington by presenting yearly a pair of scarlet hose to the King. Edward Willoughby held lands in Linby for the charge of a grey coat. Gloves were common gifts, for at Christmas, for 20 bovates in Barton, it was given to Gervas de Clifton by Robert de Pierpoint .

Many of these rents existed only for the life of the tenant, but in some cases their heirs. However, due to the private nature of rents, they may continue but are unrecorded.

The author is researching folklore and customs in Nottinghamshire, any correspondence is welcome, Rossparish@hotmail.com

This page was added by R B Parish on 26/03/2013.

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