Lord of Manor exercised his feudal right

FEUDAL law gave Lords of the Manor many rights, not the least those concerning brides-to-be. Other rights still endue, as Tony Beaden has demonstrated.

It has taken him a decade to get round to it, but the Lord of the Manor of Bexhill has finally exercised the "right of assize of bread and ale."

In modern parlance, it means that he can demand to sample locally-made products.

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When Lesley White of White's Brewery heard of the ancient right that Tony holds she was only too happy to provide a glass of the Pebsham-based brewery's local special, Maiden Bexhill.

White's beer is sold in Bexhill RAFA Club, where Lesley is a member, so where beter for the Lord of the Manor to demonstrate that feudal rights still prevail in the 21st Century?

As Tony appreciatively tasted a bottle of Maiden Bexhill, Lesley said: "We had no choice. We are obliged to offer a sample of the beer to the Lord of the Manor - and we are delighted to do that."

The retired police officer said: "We I acquired the ancient title of Lord of the Manor of Bexhill 10 years ago it was because I decided that, if possible, I would prevent it going to purchasers in America, Japan, Russia and other countries where most of the titles at that time seemed to be ending up.

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"These purchasers seemed to have no possible connection with the places whose titles they were buying.

"Having ensured that this would not happen, I decided not to advertise the fact for some time that I was successful in this matter.

"However, after a while the fact leaked out and I had to acknowledge that I was indeed the purchaser.

"The manor of Bexhill dates back to around AD 772, when King Offa granted land to Oswald, Bishop of Selsey.

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"I was interested to find, on examining the title deeds, that it included rights to the gallows and the assize of bread and ale.

"The former relates to the times when Bishops held the titled and had the right to condemn felons to death.

"In such cases the property of the felon was forfeit to the Lord of the Manor.

"Let's bring back hanging, I say!

"The assize of bread and ale relates to the right of the Lord of the Manor to sample the produce of bakers and brewers to ensure the product was of a good standard.

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"I mistakenly assumed that the rights to the local virgins might also be included.

"Sadly, not so.

"However, it is probably just as well. It might be difficult to find suitable virgins in this day and age."

The former police officer added: "It would be far more difficult for me to do anything about it at the age of 84.

"The assize of ale is a different matter.

"I was unaware Bexhil Bexhill had its own brewery at Pebsham. For many years I had brewed my own home-made beer and very successful it was.

"It was not until recently that I found that the product was being made, more or less on my own doorstep.

"The name of the product is Maiden Bexhill - Interesting!

"Is there a message for me there...?"

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