Bideford Council Manor Court

Bideford Town Hall
Town Hall
Bridge Street
EX39 2HS
United Kingdom

Bideford Town hall

Originally an Anglo-Saxon court of jurisdiction known as the “Court Leet”, the Manor Court dates back to around the 5th century.  It was more commonly known through the more southern parts of England and its purpose then would have been to round up the miscreants and send them on to their punishment.  The Court Leet did not have the power to punish.

In today’s times, the principal purpose of the Court, apart from preserving the traditional ceremony, is to receive Presentments (ideas to improve the town) from the electors within the parish of Bideford for deliberation by the Council in the interests of the Town.  These Presentments will be considered and presented to the Court by the Jury, the members of which are required to be electors within the parish of Bideford. All jurors will be sworn in at the Court for that purpose.

The continuance of the Ceremony is a tradition of significance and, being one of only a handful of Manor Courts throughout the country, it is hoped that it will have the continued support of the people of Bideford especially as so many such events are being lost with the passage of time

Opportunity is being made for members of the public to take an active role in the centuries-old Manor Court Ceremony.  The ceremony was originally held to allow townspeople to bring issues before the Lords of the Manor for consideration.  Today, the ideas or “presentments” are put to the Town Council, which has an obligation to consider them.

The Town Council is opening the way for public attendance and is also calling for ideas and projects that would make Bideford a better place for the community and visitors to be put forward.  Any member of the public residing in the Parish of Bideford who wishes to submit a ‘presentment’, should do so by 12 Noon, Monday 26 February 2024.  The envelope should be marked for the attention of the Manor Steward.

Presentments submitted to the Town Council are considered by a chosen jury of twelve respected town residents. Those that fall within the remit of the Council’s authority and considered feasible are presented to the court.  Items that fall within the authority of Devon County and Torridge District Councils will not be considered.

Actions regarding presentments of the previous year are also reported.

Anyone wishing to take part in the occasion is invited to complete the application form and return it to the Town Clerk.  If there are too many applicants a draw will be made by the Mayor to fill the available places.  Those chosen will be able to take a guest and will also be invited to the Civic Reception following the Ceremony.