Mystery buyer snaps up ancient title

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An ancient aristocratic title lost for over a century has been snapped up by a mystery buyer.

The Lordship of Bowland, a title connected with the Forest of Bowland,

dates back around 1,000 years, to the time of the Domesday Book.

The title fell out of use in 1885, when the estate of one of Lancashire's great aristocratic families, the Towneleys, was broken

up after the death of the last male heir.

Experts believed the title later belonged to the Crown after the Duchy of Lancaster bought 6,000 acres of land in the Forest of Bowland, near Clitheroe.

But a researcher recently discovered the title was not sold with the land, and Charles Towneley, the 4th Lord O'Hagan, came forward to claim it.

An anonymous man, who has family connections with Lancashire but does not live locally, has now shelled out thousands of pounds to snap up the title.

Bowland once comprised a royal hunting forest and eight manors, five townships and four parishes covering an area of almost 300 square miles on the borders of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

The new owner no longer has a claim on the land but will be able to exercise ancient rights, including the right appoint a Master Forester and to choose Bowbearers, ceremonial officers who traditionally accompanied the King on hunting trips and attended court.

Robert Smith, executive chairman of the Manorial Society, which represents 1,900 lords and feudal barons, said: "The rediscovery of a lost lordship is really very rare.

"For almost 1,000 years, the Lordship of Bowland was one of the truly great titles but somehow it got lost."

Mr Smith reckons the new lord is unlikely to exercise all of his ancient rights, however.

He said: "I think he would be hardpressed to walk around with a bow!

"There is an ancient courthouse in Bowland but the new Lord is in for a shock – it's now become a gastro pub, better known locally as the Inn at Whitewell."

Mr Smith added titles usually sell for around 7,000.

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