Manorial document record project

The Manorial Documents Register (MDR) is an index to English and Welsh manorial records, providing brief descriptions of documents and details of their locations in public and private hands.  It was started in the 1920s, to ensure the preservation of manorial documents after the abolition of copyhold tenure in 1922. It contains information about the location of manorial records throughout England and Wales.

Records covered by the Register include court rolls, surveys, maps and terriers and all other documents relating to the boundaries, franchises, wastes, customs or courts of a manor. Many date from the Middle Ages, some from as early as the 13th century. A very rough survey of the information in the Manorial Documents Register for Kent suggests that there are between 1300 and 1400 manors, covering all areas of the county, including those parts of Kent which are now in London.

The Manorial Documents Register (MDR) is maintained by The National Archives, on behalf of the Master of the Rolls, as a record of the whereabouts of manorial documents.  Work began on computerising the Manorial Documents Register in 1995 and Kent counties entries were published online in 2021.

The project began by checking the existing information in the Manorial Documents Register and amending and updating it where necessary. Information about other manorial records held at the Kent History and Library Centre, Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Medway Archives Centre has been added. Records at a number of other record offices, including the National Archives, the British Library, Lambeth Palace Library have also been examined and the information they contain has been added to the Register.

Another part of the project involved researching the history of manors and compiling lists of lords of manors.  At the end of the project all the data has been added to the online Manorial Documents Register and it is possible to search for information about Kent’s manorial records by manor name, parish and document type.

Manorial documents are a wonderful source for local and family history. To learn more look at our manorial record collection guide.

To search for Kent manorial documents by manor, parish or document use the Manorial Document Register on the National Archives website here.