A LORD of the Manor’s claim to ancient land rights has sparked concern among hundreds of north Pembrokeshire homeowners.

Some people in Solva were even reduced to tears by letters from the Land Registry which detailed the claim to what are known as Manorial Rights - laws which date back to the Norman Conquests.

Around 700 homeowners living in the historical area of Dewisland, which includes Solva, have received letters laying claim to the rights of any minerals beneath their feet.

It follows a change in the law that meant that Manorial Rights which were previously automatically protected, had to be formally registered by October 13 2013 or risk being lost.

The letters were sent to detail the claims of Doreen Bowie, who bought the title Lord of the Manor of Dewisland in 1987.

Pembrokeshire County Council has also received the letters as it owns several areas of land around Solva.

Solva resident Sandra Young told the Western Telegraph: “The letter was unnecessarily complicated and was worded in such a way that residents were left bemused and frightened at its possible implication”, Mrs Young told the Western Telegraph.

“Some people believed that the holder of the Manorial Rights owned the land their property was built on. The distress caused was evident as worried villagers were reduced to tears."

Many people were also disturbed to find the letters addressed to deceased or sick relatives.

“The Land Registry has handled the matter insensitively and without any consideration for villagers” added Mrs Young.

In a letter to the Land registry, Solva Community Council said they had been approached by residents concerned that they be see house values drop, no be able to sell their properties and even worries about “bulldozers digging up gardens”.

Ian Fudge, Partner at JCP Solicitors in Haverfordwest said that the law firm had received numerous enquiries from people affected but added that homeowners should not be unduly worried.

“The idea of Manorial Rights is one that is completely alien to many people nowadays but like many areas of law there are these instances that occur every so often.

“However, homeowners really shouldn’t be overly concerned as filing the appropriate UN4 form with Land Registry, will lodge your dispute to the claim. Rest assured there are simple measures that can be taken to protect your property and land.”

A spokesman for the Land Registry told the Western Telegraph: "We do keep our letters, which inform property owners that a third party has put a notice on their title claiming one of these interests, under review to try and make them as simple and clear as we can. We have recently simplified the letter further based on feedback to make it as straightforward as possible.

"However these are quite complicated legal issues and we cannot simplify our letter too far or it will become misleading.

"We do understand that it may cause concern if the owner of the land was not previously aware of any affecting manorial rights or chancel repair liability.

The spokesman added that they were sorry to hear that distress was caused because letters were addressed to deceased people but added: "Land Registry is obliged to send a letter to all the people registered as the owner."