8 December 2011

We’ve had a lot of questions and answers in the Commons and Lords about Cornwall – look at the overflow of posts below – and now there’s another couple.

The first question was “from which category of Crown land fee simple owners in Cornwall hold title to their properties”.

The reply is difficult to summarise so I’ll put it in full:

“The Crown is the ultimate owner of all land in England and Wales, including Cornwall. The owner of a fee simple holds the land of his or her feudal lord by the tenure of free and common socage for an estate in fee simple. For most purposes the identity of the relevant lord is immaterial as directly or indirectly the land will be held of the Crown. If a freehold estate in land determines, so that the land escheats, it will pass, depending on its location, to the Crown, the duchy of Lancaster or the duchy of Cornwall. The possessions of the duchy of Cornwall and the duchy of Lancaster are considered to be held of the Crown even when the duchy is vested in the Crown.” [Hansard 5 December 2011 column 26W]

I think we find ourselves in medieval middens here as it were but the key point in this answer is that the crown is the ultimate owner of all land in Cornwall – not the duke or duchy – and the duke of Cornwall holds his duchy possessions of the crown. There is nothing here to rejoice nationalists.

The second question was about the status of the duchy of Cornwall. The answer was the usual: “The duchy of Cornwall is a private estate that funds the public, charitable and private activities of the prince of Wales, the duchess of Cornwall, the duke and duchess of Cambridge and prince Harry.” [Hansard 5 December 2011 column 105W]

We have had over the last years questions and answers about the foreshore, the sea bed, stannary law, the legal system of Cornwall, and the constitutional status of the duchy. We have learned inter alia that government considers that Cornwall is part of England, stannary law is effectively defunct, and the duchy is an income-generating arrangement not a separate country.


Premature hosannas 17 November 2011

Stannary law defunct 14 July 2011

Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate 13 May 2011

Government: ‘Cornwall is part of England’ 12 January 2011

Duchy of Cornwall 20 November 2010

Crown Estate owns sea and seabed off county of Cornwall 12 October 2010

Stannary law obsolete 21 May 2009

Cornwall today 11 April 2009

Who owns the Cornwall foreshore? 11 February 2009

Cornwall is part of England – and staying put 9 October 2008

Cornwall today 11 April 2007

– and Aristotle’s teeth