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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 19:05 GMT 20:05 UK
Village backlash against Lord of the Manor
Villagers outside the pub in Alstonefield
The Lord of Alstonefield title comes with ancient rights
People living in an east Staffordshire village are taking legal action against their Lord of the Manor who they claim is taking his title too seriously.

Cardiff businessman Mark Roberts bought the title of Lord of Alstonefield at auction in 1999.

Now his company, which operates titles on a commercial basis, stands to make thousands of pounds by exercising ancient laws that accompany the title.

The Lord of Alstonefield title dates back to before the Doomsday Book and gives Mr Roberts rights over mineral extraction, hunting and fishing and access to land in the village.

Problems selling

But villagers are worried Mr Roberts' ownership of the title could be affecting property prices.

They have set up a legal fighting fund to try and stop Mr Roberts exercising his rights.

Doris Goodwin, who had difficulties selling her house, said: "It was quite a shock to discover that a third party had got some claim to our property.

Alstonefield villagers
Villagers are taking legal action

"It had quite a lot of effect on us when we tried to sell our house in the beginning.

"People who came to see it from outside the village were quite put off by it."

Councillor Sue Fowler, of Alstonefield parish council, added: "He is deadly serious about his rights and he is very knowledgeable about them.

"He is imposing 11th Century rights and laws on us in the 21st Century."

But Mr Roberts says he is only interested in large areas of agricultural land and will not interfere with people's rights to their own back garden.

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