My lord! Four East Lancashire titles up for sale

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy news editor

ANYONE with visions of grandeur is being given the perfect chance to bid their way into high society - by buying a lordship.

Decendants of the Towneley family have put up for sale 29 prestigious titles, including four in East Lancashire.

For around £7,000 any bidder can officially name themselves lord of the manor in either Accrington Newhold, Bowland, Rossendale or Habergham Eaves.

And the winning bidders, when the items come up for auction next month, will be able to use their new titles on their passports, credit cards and cheque books.

The titles, which are expected to reach between £4,000 to £7,000 each, have been put up for sale by Lord Charles O'Hagan, who is suffering ill health.

Lord O'Hagan, 65, whose real name is Charles Towneley, said that the cash raised by the sale would help pay for medical bills.

The former MEP for Devon lives in Somerset. He said: "It is the sensible option to sell the titles.

"They do not add to my life and I do not live in the area any more.

"If I still had a big estate in Burnley then they would have some point but that has long ceased to be the case."

The Towneley family sold Towneley Hall and the surrounding park to the local authority in 1901 for the then sizable sum of £9,000.

Lord O'Hagan added: "The titles have been in my family for many hundreds of years and I will be sad to see them go but I am sure that they will be popular at auction.

"It is a very unique sale and there is a lot of history behind these titles.

"I hope they are sold to people with a local connection.

"I think it is a very romantic thing and it would be nice if people in the area bought the titles and kept them going locally."

The titles will not allow a bearer a seat in the House of Lords but can be passed down from generation to generation.

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The new lords or ladies will be eligible for membership to the Manorial Society of Great Britain, whose governing council includes the Earl of Shrewesbury and Talbot, Lord Sudeley and Sir Desmond de Silva QC.

Robert Smith, Manorial Auctioneers in London, is a leading expert on the sale of Lordships.

He said: "The lordships are like a status symbol and will be very appealing to people with a certain level of income.

"The rich have always displayed their wealth and it can manifest itself in many ways.

"Some people like jewellery or expensive cars.

"Others want a big house or a title like this.

"Lordships have been bought and sold by the rich since 1066 and there is no change now.

"People will be interested in the auction either for sentimental reasons or just for the prestige."

The lord of the manor can expect few privileges, Mr Smith said.

As lord you have rights of owning the land three-feet under the soil, but usually there is no value of owning the "mineral rights" if there are no "commercially exploitable materials".

The other 24 lordships for sale are located across the country and include East Hall in Essex, Ridings Court in Buckinghamshire and Alton in Staffordshire.

The auction takes place on May 20 at Stationers Hall, Ave Maria Lane, London. For more information visit the website below.

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