VCH Explore

Explore England's Past

Estate Management

There have been different ways of managing land in the past, which have tended to reflect the level of involvement of the landowner with his property, as well as the size of the property. The demesne land integral to the manorial system was often overseen by the landowner himself, or an steward working on his behalf. Institutional owners, along with some private landlords, preferred to keep a distance between themselves and their farms. In these circumstances, systems of management was developed which enabled owners to manage at a distance. Copyhold, for example, was a way of ensuring intergenerational property transmission (through the payment of a ‘fine’) in which the incentive lay with the tenant.

By contrast, with freehold tenancy, the landlord looked to maximise his income by direct management through an appointed agent or steward, whose duties included the twice yearly collection of rent. As tenancy shifted through time towards direct management, the role of the steward evolved into that of the professional agent, and on larger estates these men could be figures of regional importance, who commanded considerable salaries. On medium estates, landowners often employed estate agency firms to look after their estates, when they did not require a full-time agent of their own. Smaller owners tended to run their estates themselves, or to employ the services of a bailiff, who was often one of their own tenants. One unwritten rule was that if the landlord did not visit his estates on a regular basis, management became more difficult because tenants took the view that absence meant rents did not need to be paid.


Theme Items

The Barle valley below Simonsbath in the heart of the former Royal Forest of Exmoor.

William Senior's plan of Hardwick, c.1609, showing the two mansions and the surrounding park shortly after Bess had died.

The fortuitous survival of two great surveys, Boldon Book, and Bishop Hatfield's survey, drawn up some two hundred years apart, has provided us wit

Some two hundred years after Boldon Book, the townships of Bishopwearmouth, Tunstall, Ryhope and Burdon, together with the borough of Sunderland, a

The gardens and grounds at Parham House are featured in this section.

The very best oak building timber at the end of the 16th century came from woods which were specifically managed to produce tall, straight trees fo

Exmoor National Park Authority bought the Simonsbath sawmill from the Fortescue estate in the 1990s to safeguard the character of the building and

In 1597, shortly after Sir Edward Penruddocke completed his purchase of the manor of Compton Chamberlayne, he commissioned this survey of the entir

During the 17th century, the rectory lands and tithes of Cheltenham and the associated 'chapel' of Charlton Kings descended from Sir Baptist Hicks

In the later 12th century the demesne of Amesbury manor included several pastures for cattle and in the early 13th century extensive several pastur