A manorial court was the lowest court of law in England during the feudal period. It dealt with matters over which the Lord of the Manor had jurisdiction, and its powers extended only to those living in the manor or who held land there. Historians have divided manorial courts into those that were primarily seignorial – based on feudal responsibilities – and those based on the delegation of authority from the monarch. There were three types of seignorial court: the court of the honour; the court baron; and the court customary, also known as the halmote court.
Each manor had its own laws promulgated in a document called the custumal, and anyone in breach of those laws could be tried in a manorial court. The earlier Saxon method of trial by ordeal or of compurgation was modified by the Normans into trial by a jury made up of 12 local freemen. The lord or his steward would be the chairman, whilst the parish clerk would write the record on the manorial rolls.
The three types of seignorial court were distinguished by the importance of those who made use of them: the court of honour was for the manor's principal tenants, the court baron for other free tenants, and the court customary was for unfree tenants.