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The Henley-in-Arden Court Leet

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Henley-in-Arden Court Leet.

Most Court Leets ceased to function during the Victorian era then in 1977 the Administration of Justice Act abolished many of the remaining Courts that were still inactive. The Act allowed 19 Special Courts and 32 Court Leets to continue including Henley-in-Arden Court Leet and Court Baron.

Supporting the Court Leet, we have over 100 Jurors of the town who have been an essential part of Henley’s development and history over the centuries. Today, the Jurors main function is to attend the Annual Court in November and elect the members of the Court Leet for the year ahead. Anyone who has resided within Henley for at least 3 years can apply to become a Court Leet Juror.

A possible origin of the name “Court Leet” can be traced back to the early 1400’s word “Lete” and “Leta” meaning “Having superior social rank over others.”

In essence the Court Leet were a 15th Century Trading Standards, Magistrates Court and Land Registry for legal documents which was collectively referred to as the “Court Baron”. The Court was responsible for regulating and inspecting the quality of essential goods sold within the community including fish, flesh, bread, milk, butter, leather goods and most importantly Ale. They also controlled and set the prices charged to the local population and checked the Weights and/or Measurements of goods to protect the locals against any unscrupulous traders.

The members or “Officers” of the Court Leet were and still are today elected every year on the 2nd Wednesday in November.