Duties of the Court Leet
Sadly, 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 circa 1986.

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.
Various evenings also take place throughout the year, presenting awards to the landlords for achieving high standards in their public houses.

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.
The Manor of Wareham Court Leet. No responsibility is taken for the accuracy, quality or safety of external sites.