GREAT BRITAIN: Lords for Sale

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One of Britain's most resounding titles, which for sheer euphony tops that of many a noble duke and earl, is held by the Lord of the Manor of Circum cum Wilcocks alias Fransham Parva in the parish of Little Fransham. Last week, along with 26 other manorial lordships, it was knocked down at auction for a paltry $924. At the same auction, London Bookseller William Alfred Foyle bought himself five lordships for $5,400.

Unlike the patents of nobility borne by Britain's peers, which no man can buy, the ancient feudal title, lord of the manor, has long been negotiable. In times past it carried with it many valuable perquisites, and it was not unusual for the old squire in the big house up on the hill to sell them off for a spot of ready cash. The 27 titles up for sale last week were part of a collection bought purely as investments in the 19th century by a shrewd old Essex solicitor named Joseph Beaumont.

Since Beaumont's day, however, Britain's Property Acts have wiped out most of the manorial lord's "perks" (or perquisites;. Today the best a lord of the manor can hope for is a few pounds a year from public utilities for putting telegraph poles on his property. But the deeds are still inscribed on heavy, ancient parchments that make magnificent souvenirs. Unfortunately, the deeds cannot be taken out of the country, which discouraged Americans last week from scooping up such handsome titles as Lord of the Manor of Overhall and Netherhall, or Callis Metholds and Wimbolds.