THE feudal barony of Pencelli Castle, near Brecon, is up for sale for £40,000, together with the lordships of the manor of Skethrog and English Pencelli.

The barony is being sold by the Pitchford family, who acquired the Pencelli estate in the 1930s from the trustees of Henry Berry, Lord Buckland of Bwlch, owner of The Western Mail, and a string of newspapers in South Wales. His brothers were raised to the peerage as Viscount Camrose and Viscount Kemsley, who owned The Daily Telegraph in London.

The history of the barony begins after the Norman Conquest when Bernard of Newmarch established himself at Brecon following a battle in 1093.

The castle at Pencelli was started by Ralph Baskerville, one of Bernard's knights, and many centuries later, in the reign of Queen Victoria, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a regular visitor.

According to Mrs Grace Pitchford, the present owner, the history of the place inspired the author of Sherlock Holmes to write The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Other manors

The manors of Skethrog and English Pencelli are on offer at £7,000 each.

Lordships of the manor are ancient land divisions, while baronies are much larger and had overlordship of the manors within them. Most of these rights of overlordship are now obsolete, but the title 'Baron or Baroness of Pencelli' survives.

However, rights within individual manors can include mineral excavation, or the right to hold a market, and to hold a manorial court, but the chances of making a fortune are few and far between and purchasers should not expect a manorial Eldorado.

"They are," said Robert Smith of Manorial Auctioneers, "a tiny bit of English history, where the new lord or lady becomes the most recent in a known chain of owners often going back more than nine centuries."

The lordships are on sale through Manorial Auctioneers of London. New lords or ladies of the manors may use their style on passports, driving licences and credit cards and can become members of the Manorial Society of Great Britain, whose governing council includes the Earl of Shrewsbury, the Earl of Shannon and Lord Sudeley.