A MYSTERY buyer has become the Lord of Bowland after snapping up the title at auction.

The new Lord of the Ribble Valley area gets a range of ancient rights.

But sadly, the Lord of Bowland does not receive the hunting forest, eight manors, five townships and four parishes that used to be include with the honour.

The title dates back to the Doomsday Book, but has not been used since 1885 when the estates of one of Lancashire's great aristocratic families, the Townleys, was broken up following the death of the last male heir.

However the Manorial Society, which represents Britain's 1,900 lords of the manor and feudal barons, has revealed the 'lost' title has been revived.

It is not known how much the title sold for, but on average cost several thousand pounds.

Though anonymous for the time being, the new lord may reveal his identity to use his role ceremonially.

He is said to be in his forties, British and from a family connected with the area.

With the title, he has been granted the rights to appoint a Master Forester and Bowbearers. Bowbearers at one time accompanied the King on hunts but later officiated in the Lord's forest court.

However, the ancient court in Bowland is today known as the Inn at Whitewell.

The gastro-pub's landlord Charles Bowman said the news was a complete surprise: "I've never heard of the title, though I knew the Inn was an ancient court and that the Master Forester lived here in the 1400s.

"If the lord wants to visit, he will be made extremely welcome! The history of the area and the inn isn't very well known, however that might change with the Lord of Bowland."

Experts, as well as the Townley family themselves, had previously thought the lordship belonged to the crown.

In 1938, the Duchy of Lancaster acquired 6,000 acres of the Forest of Bowland, now known as the Whitewell Estate which would have made the Queen the present Lord of Bowland.

However the 1938 purchase specifically excluded the Lordship of Bowland itself, which been retained by an extinct Towneley family trust.

Last year, Charles Towneley, the fourth Lord O'Hagan, stepped forward to claim the title which has now been sold on.