Welcome to the Cricklade Court Leet website
The Manorial Court of the Hundred and Borough of Cricklade
The Cricklade Court Leet is one of the few remaining active Court
Leets in the United Kingdom.
The Manorial Court for the Hundred and Borough of Cricklade has existed in Cricklade since the 14th Century and is one of only 32 that remain in the country today. Its original duties are now dealt with by the Local Authorities and Magistrates, but the Court does retain responsibility for managing the grazing of Cricklade’s National Nature Reserve ‘North Meadow’.
Established in Saxon times each man was recorded as a member of 10 men. Each ten had a leader responsible for the conduct of the other nine. In turn ten groups formed a ‘Hundred’ and the leaders elected one of their number to be the ‘Hundredsman’. Tens and hundreds were responsible for catching and punishing thieves from amongst their number and compensating victims. Thus the first form of community policing was born. The system underwent a change with the coming of the Normans. The Court became a Manorial Court which dealt with petty offences and collected fines and taxes. The chief officer of the Court is now the ‘High Bailiff’ who replaces the role of Town Mayor. Executive powers, however, remain with the Chairman of the Town Council.
The officers of the Court are still active today as shown above on official duty in the Town. Public Courts are held biannually when officers report on the progress of their various roles. Whilst the Court is now largely ceremonial, the members aim to help the local community and maintain its historic traditions. One tradition is for the High Bailiff to send a loyal greeting on behalf of the townsfolk to the Sovereign on National occasions.
The Court’s responsibility for managing the grazing of North Meadow ensured its continued existence when most Manorial Courts were dissolved by the government in the 1970s, as they were no longer serving a legal purpose.
An important duty of the Court is to appoint the Freemen of Cricklade. A Freeman in medieval times could work for himself and was no longer obliged to work for the Lord of the Manor, unlike serfs and villains. Today this award is given to members of the community in recognition of significant voluntary work. Steward of Normead is an honorary title given by the Court to retiring members in recognition of outstanding contribution to the work of the Court.
This website is still under construction and will be updated regularly
with content on a monthly basis.
Please check back later for updates.