most of the courts are now long-gone and most are not even remembered,
although some 30-odd courts still exist in England today.
The survivors each take a very different form, as they are so
ancient that there is no common organisation capable of enjoining
some form of standardisation between them.
Even so, most courts have lost the majority of their powers, although
the Royal Manors, such as the Royal Manor of Portland Court Leet
and the New Forest Verderers still retain most of theirs.
Wareham Court Leet follows a regular format, the origins of which
are lost in the 'mists of time'. The Court meets nightly during
the last week in November, from Monday to Thursday, and two pubs
are inspected each night.
In the 'good old days' (we younger members are told!), the court
dealt with three pubs on some nights. That was when the 'Pure
Drop in West Street and 'Lord Nelson' by St Martin's Church were
still open. What was it like in the 'good, good' old days when
there were many more pubs in the town? The olduns don't know the
answer to that one!
The Pure Drop, West Street. Closed about forty years ago.
The Lord Nelson, North Street (by the "Gates"). Closed
On the Friday of the Court Leet week, the more serious business
takes place, when the Court sits in the Town Hall to assess the
weeks events and take 'presentments' from the Jury.
The court adjourns at midday to the 'Red Lion' for lunch; generously
provided by the Lord of the Manor in gratitude to his Officers
and Jury for their faithful service throughout the year. And so
another court year ends - although during that year other events
are held, such as the Commons Inspection when members of the court
are conveyed by tractor and trailer around the common land before
departing to a local hostelry for discussions and refreshments.
evenings also take place throughout the year, presenting awards
to the landlords for achieving high standards in their public
A Ladies Night takes place in January, when members of the Court
thank their ladies for their support during the year and a Court
Leet church service is held in October, when thanks are given
to the Creator for the unrivalled gift of friendship and brotherhood
afforded by such an association as ours.
The eight "public houses" in Wareham will be inspected
during the last full week in November, from 7 p.m. nightly. In
recent times, we have lost more pubs.
The Railway Tavern has become "The Monsoon" an award
winning asian restaurant.
The Antelope has become a "Sports bar" with an unbelievable
number of TVs, seamingly each playing a different sport. There
are no real ales, either. They decided it would not fit in with
the tradition of Court Leet.
Possibly the saddest loss is the Black Bear, which has been
a major part of Court Leet for many years. A succession of incompetent
managers have run the place into the ground, and it is now closed.
Who knows what its future will be.
The court sits on the Friday in the Council Chamber of the Town
Hall at twelve o'clock noon (when the clock strikes thirteen!)
and members of the public are welcome to attend.