Instant aristocratic kudos was snapped up yesterday when ancient titles went under the hammer in Birmingham.
Three titles, some relating back to the Domesday Book, were sold for a total of more than £40,000 at Villa Park. Three people walked away from the auction, by Bigwoods, able to lay claim to the lordships of Fletchamstead, Bericote and Ingestre.
Although the titles do not entitle the owner to sit in the House of Lords or carry actual land, it does entitle the recipient to all the relevant historic documents, plus obscure privileges.
The Lordship of Fletchamstead, which relates to a village two miles from Coventry, was sold for £17,5000 to a Londoner named Tom Bello. The title formerly belonged to King Henry VIII, who then bestowed it on his wife Katherine Parr.
It was originally given by King Henry I to a holy hermit named Gerard in the 1100s who built a simple chapel on its lands, which then passed into the hands of the Knights Templar. It belonged to the Leigh family of Stoneleigh for 400 years before being sold yesterday.
The Lordship of Bericote, which was attached to a hamlet called Ashow, sold for £11,000. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it says that there is "land for three ploughs". In the demesne land - or that owned and used by the lord - there was "one plough, and two slaves and four villans" and "the father of Turchil held it".
The Lordship of Ingestre in Staffordshire sold for £26,500, more than four times its guide price. It was originally held by the noble Chetwynd and Talbot families.
Christopher Ironmonger, director of property auctioneers, Bigwoods, said the history attached to the titles and the particular place identified contributed to their worth.
"Years ago such titles went with ownership of land estates but now it normally comprises a bundle of historic documents explaining what privileges the title afforded, normally peculiar and obscure rights such as where you can walk and where you can graze your sheep," he said.
"These titles are a variation on a personalised number plate. They are proving increasingly popular."
He added: "It is a bit of fun, although I have heard of some people managing to get themselves upgraded to first class on aeroplanes. I wouldn't, however, guarantee that."
The lordships went on sale at Villa Park Conference Centre. The three titles were part of a significantly large sale comprising a total of 93 lots of property ranging from residential homes to commercial premises.