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The lord of the manor


Yesterday, I photographed the local manor house. That would be where the local lord of the manor would have lived hundreds of years ago. The area was largely a rural community then. The lord of manor would have been the land owner renting out land to local farmers and small holders. People scraping a living off the land. Much of what they produced went to the lord who’s title would have been bestowed upon him by grateful royalty or maybe on an ancestor.

I suppose the lord of the manor or one of his ancestors probably fought on the side of the king in some war. For that they tended to not only get a title, lands and mineral rights, but the right to live off the people like a parasite. It wasn’t just the lords of the manor that were aristocratic parasites, but also the more noble lords. The local viscounts were even more wealthy and powerful.

I watched a programme on television last night about the workhouses of the 19th and early 20th century. That was the time of the industrial revolution that brought lots of wealth to the people who owned the mineral rights to the coal and iron ore and lots of investment opportunities for the rich. It also brought poverty with an expanding population that was concentrated more into the towns and cities. It became even harder for the poor to survive and they often had to go to the workhouse, where married couple were separated. Families were split up; ‘good’ people were separated from ‘bad’ people and they were generally humiliated. It was the Victorian welfare system and much like the welfare system of England today; it destroyed people’s self confidence and humiliated them. They were given the bare minimum in the workhouse, the bare minimum of food to make them want something better. To give them an incentive to leave and find work, any work, no matter how low paid or how humiliating. In modern language, this was to ‘make work pay’.

Critics of the present government’s policies say they are Dickensian, reminiscent of Dickens’ story of Oliver Twist, but the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, insisted his aim was to make it worthwhile to be in work. Just what the intention was in the era of the workhouse. The Tories were often in power then or the predecessor of the Liberal democrats; the Whigs.  Nothing much has changed, society is still divided into the haves and the have-nots.

The lord of the manor for Wednesbury lives down south somewhere and visits occasionally. He keeps the title even though it could be sold, they do sell for between 15,000 pounds and 50,000 pounds. I’m sure he doesn’t need the money  and wouldn’t be seen dead in Wednesbury. The title could be of some use to someone though. Communities need leadership, rather than someone to lord it over them and be a parasitic leech that sucks the life blood from their community. The lord could be someone who uses his position in the community to help people when they need it. The lord of the manor could serve the community rather than living off it. Community leaders at the moment appear to be councillors and maybe the mayor. I have no idea who the mayor is and most councillors aren’t leading the community, except maybe into oblivion…

Is there a place for a modern lord of the manor who would serve the people? What do you think? Please share you thoughts in the comments box.

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