The office of Lord of the Manor in England goes back to at least the Saxon period. The Manor was the basic unit of administration for several centuries. Originally the Monarch conferred a Lordship on individuals in return for military, political or financial support. The Monarch also conferred Lordships on ecclesiastical bodies and universities as a form of endowment. The Lord of the Manor was a tenant of the Monarch and in turn most of the inhabitants of the Manor were tenants of the Lord. The Manorial tenants' rent for their land was originally labour for a specified number of days each year on the Lord's land; this was later commuted to a monetary rent.
A Lordship of the Manor is a form of property and, as with other forms of property, can be inherited, bought, sold or given to an individual/organisation. The Lordship of the Manor of Tuddenham St. Mary goes back to Saxon times and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The Lordship has been held by some interesting people over the centuries such as Sir Edmund de Hemegrave (High Sheriff for Norfolk in 1321 and Governor of Norwich Castle), the Earl of Ormonde in the 1500's and John, Baron Hervey of Ickworth, who became Lord of the Manor in 1698. John was created Earl of Bristol in 1714 for his zealous support for the succession of the House of Hanover to the British Throne. The Earldom was raised to the status of Marquess in 1826. The various Earls and Marquesses of Bristol have held many high military and political offices over the centuries. The title was sold in 1988 by the then Marquess, Victor Frederick Cochrane.
The present day
Mr. Owen Wilson, the maternal side of whose family have longstanding connections with Suffolk, became Lord of the Manor in 2007. Mr. Wilson was born in Hertfordshire but lived most of his life in Great Dunmow, Essex. He served for 43 years as a Local Government Officer with various Local Authorities in the Essex - Hertfordshire border area, and for the last 18 years of his service was Town Clerk & Responsible Financial Officer of Great Dunmow Town Council. Mr. Wilson retired in 2009 and moved to Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, from where his wife Ruth originates.
Although now living in another part of the United Kingdom, Mr. Wilson maintains a strong interest in Tuddenham St. Mary. Just before his retirement Mr. Wilson appointed local historian Esme Murfitt as Manorial Steward - reviving an ancient office which had not been held for nearly a century - so as to have a personal representative resident in the village.
The Manorial Shield
The waterwheel in the centre represents Tuddenham Mill, the dark blue wavy line on a white background represents the River Lark, the light blue background represents the predominant colour in the County of Suffolk shield, and the two gold fleur-de-lys on a red background represent Great Dunmow in Essex with which the current Lord of the Manor's family have had connections for a century. The motto “Honour by Defiance” refers to the honours granted to various Lords of the Manor for their defiance of enemies of the State and constitutional government.
Note: the Manorial Shield is copyrighted to the Lord of the Manor and cannot be reproduced without his written permission