John Clark writes…
First published: August 2013 – Gazette & Herald
Feudalism is alive and well and living near you. My first experience of this way of running the world was in rural Oxfordshire in the 1980s. I asked “Who are you liable to support in next week’s by-election?”
He replied “The Lord tells us who to vote for.”
This must be some religious twist of which I was unaware. No. The Lord of the Manor told all his tenants and employees which candidate to vote for. One ‘man’ one vote didn’t apply.
Moving much closer to home, I was talking to a North York Moors farmer who said:
“The Lord of the Manor looks at sheep and thinks ‘ticks’
– they harm pheasants and grouse.
I look at the Lord of the Manor and thinks ‘hen harriers’
– why have they all gone?”
The latest outbreak of feudalism in Ryedale is in Farndale. Farndale estate was owned by Lord Feversham. He appeared to believe that the tenants (both farmers and householders) were a vital part of the Farndale community. After his death the estate was sold to Sir Lawrie Barratt.
The Barratts who have inherited from Sir Lawrie have gone down the ‘monetary route’: we will raise money if we sell some of the properties – even more if the properties are empty. So we will evict the tenants – just like the Highland Clearances. The Laird wants rid of the peasants so we will evict them.
This is the same bullying as the Water Board in the 1960s. It wanted to create a reservoir by flooding part of Farndale. Then, as now, they ignored the thriving community of Farndale.
Why don’t people campaign and stand up to this feudal bullying? It is the same reason as other people not standing up to any kind of bullying – fear. They believe their situation will be made worse. The battered woman knows that if she complains or stands up to him she will be hit again and harder. A tenant knows that if s/he complains to the landlord they will be evicted. In the feudal system the control is wide and deep. People depend on the Lord of the Manor for work and the roof over their head. There is more of the same for their friends and relatives. If they kick up a fuss they will lose some or all of what they have.
I won’t be surprised if many of the residents of Farndale don’t take part in the campaigning to save the community. They have too much to lose. People may say:
“I’m not a single mum threatened with eviction – I will do nothing”.
“I’m not a business owner threatened with closure –I will do nothing”.
“I have no young children at Gillamoor School – I will do nothing”.
“I’m not a farmer with a short business tenancy – I will do nothing”.
Then I will be evicted.
There are 45 properties rented from Barratts. The vast majority
may not support the weakest first four. By the time the last ones are reached there will be no-one to help.
This is not just a Farndale problem. It is a national problem. We must not let the Lord of the Manor sell our North York Moors community and create a second homes village for the well-off. Of course there will be a couple of large farms remaining to keep it all tidy for the house owners when they visit.