Banker who got Lord title for £1 leaves villagers with £650k legal bill

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Apr 21 20:24:00 BST 2012

see also
The New Few Or A Very British Oligarchy, by 
Ferdinand Mount, is published by Simon and Schuster on May 1 at £18.99

Lord of the Manor who got title for £1 leaves 
villagers with £650k legal bill: Locals lose 
battle against his ancient rights to order them about
By James Tozer - Daily Mail - PUBLISHED: 08:05, 
18 April 2012 | UPDATED: 08:13, 18 April 2012
A lord of the manor who bought his title for just 
£1 yesterday won a court battle with villagers 
over the right to order them around.
Ex-banker Peter Burton had antagonised residents 
by asking them to clean up their properties and 
not park in front of them after claiming rights 
dating back to the Domesday Book, a court heard.
They reacted with fury, mounting a legal challenge against the 61-year-old.


Seat of power: Peter Burton's Jacobean manor 
house Over Hall near beauty spot Ireby Fell, 
which is at the centre of the dispute

But yesterday the neighbours were faced with 
costs of around £650,000 after their appeal was rejected at the High Court.
The saga, which saw lawyers delving into records 
going back almost 1,000 years, began after Mr 
Burton moved to the village of Ireby in Lancashire 12 years ago.
Having retired from banking, he bought a 17th 
century manor house, Over Hall, with his partner, Susan Bamford.
He set about pouring money and effort into 
restoring the Jacobean property and surrounding area.
Problems began, however, when Mr Burton paid £1 
for the right to call himself Lord of the Manor of Ireby.
He claimed this also gave him title over nearby 
beauty spot Ireby Fell – 360 wild acres at the 
highest point in the county – which until then 
had been regarded as unregistered common land.
As a result, he began exercising what he claimed 
were his rights over land which formed part of 
the ancient manorial ‘waste’ dating back to the Domesday Book.
Retired gift shop owner Carole Scott was told to 
stop parking her car near her home, an earlier hearing was told.
Other villagers were allegedly informed they 
needed to clean up their properties.
Angered by the requests, Mrs Scott teamed up with 
neighbours Eric and Angela Walker, Edward Mills 
and Christopher Balchin, to fight back.
They enlisted the help of the order of the 
Knights of St John – which owned the land in the 
Middle Ages – in a bid to prove Mr Burton had no such rights.
In 2010 a Land Registry panel ruled that Mr 
Burton could not style himself Lord of the Manor 
of Ireby because the title has lapsed.
But it confirmed he and his partner as 
‘proprietors’ of the fell, pointing out that they 
had spent time, money and effort on maintaining the land.
‘It is far better that the fell should be owned 
than left in limbo,’ adjudicator Simon Brilliant said.
The five villagers appealed against his decision 
over Ireby Fell before Deputy Judge Jeremy 
Cousins QC, who yesterday rejected their case in the High Court.
He said there was ‘ample material’ to show the 
couple had taken legal possession of the fell.
Mr Burton has stressed that the rights he is 
exercising do not change the fell’s status as 
common land, and walkers have not been prevented from accessing it.
But the ruling is likely to be a devastating blow 
for the villagers, who have already clocked up 
heavy legal costs in fighting the case and had admitted they were ‘skint’.
Mr Walker, 74, said: ‘It started off as a gentle 
thing, and then we got together to see what we 
could do, and the whole thing blossomed into full-scale litigation.’
Mr Balchin said: ‘Ireby’s a lovely place – people 
come and see it and think they would love to live 
here, but they don’t know what’s been going on.’
Explaining why they brought the case, Mr Walker 
said: ‘It wouldn’t have mattered to anybody if he 
said he was the lord of the manor, but when 
someone starts throwing their weight around, something has to be done.’
The original fortified Over Hall is thought to 
have been held in the 14th century by Edmund de Dacre.
Rebuilt in the late 17th century, it was later 
owned by the Marton family and has grade II* listed status.
Last night Mr Burton and his partner welcomed the 
outcome, saying: ‘We are pleased by the decision 
in our favour and hope that this finally draws a line under the matter.’
He also hit out at the ‘scandalously large and 
disproportionate legal costs’ the villagers had 
run up with lawyers and pledged to maintain public access to the fell.
The villagers’ solicitor declined to comment last night. 
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