Work on a comprehensive register of details about hundreds of manors in Northumberland, launched by Northumberland Archives, has resulted in a £73,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The grant will allow Northumberland Archives, part of Northumberland County Council, to train and work with volunteers to transcribe manorial documents and develop community-based activities, run workshops and talks across the county, develop an exhibition and a series of guides, digitise core documents and promote work through blogs and social media.
The Manorial Documents Register for Northumberland was part of a national project, and Northumberland Archives completed the revision in September.
The manorial system began in the 11th century and provided a framework for the lives of much of the rural population of England. The Lord of the Manor had the right to hold a court for his local tenants to facilitate management of the manor as a social and economic unit.
The court business was recorded on the court roll and early manorial courts used pieces of parchment which were stitched together to form the roll. Many other manorial documents were produced which have been identified and recorded during this project.
Records date from the 13th century and contain information on family and social change, industrial and agricultural development, local government, land ownership, crime, housing and property.
Northumberland had 396 manors and 39 baronies and records have been documented for 274 of these. The Register remains open so that newly-discovered documents can continue to be added.
Coun Cath Homer, cabinet member for culture, said: “The launch of the register for Northumberland is the culmination of three years of work by Northumberland Archives staff, and has led to the discovery of many fascinating and previously unknown records.
“The register holds a wealth of information on social and urban development, business, family names, land and property ownership, finance, diet, agriculture and even crime, from medieval times to the 20th century.
“We are very keen to promote these collections and increase awareness of the manorial records.”