The system of manors dates from at least the time of the Norman Conquest and continued into the 20th century. The records these manors created can provide a wealth of information for the family and social historian. As archives which record day-to-day transactions in local communities, they bring us close to people in the past telling us, amongst other things, some of the rules by which they lived. They show land they held and the way it was worked, family relationships, and which members of the local community served as manorial officials.
The Manorial Documents Register is the official register of manorial documents for England and Wales maintained by The National Archives on behalf of the Master of the Rolls. It identifies the nature and location of manorial records, which have statutory protection under the Manorial Documents Rules. They are defined in the Rules as court rolls, surveys, maps, terriers, documents and books of every description relating to the boundaries, franchises, wastes, customs or courts of a manor.
The Manorial Documents Register for Bedfordshire was updated in 2013 and can be searched through The National Archives Discovery catalogue.
For more information about manors and manorial records see these three detailed guides:
Cranfield Customs of the Manor 1484 (reference AD341)
Customs of a manor applied to the people who held copyhold land, whose title to the land was based on what was recorded on the court roll. The rules of this manor were written in English because it was important that tenants understood them.