Legal eagles to make a first for the profession

editorial image

Two Bakewell solicitors are entering the history books by becoming the first women to take office in Derbyshire’s ancient Barmote Courts.

The centuries old court meets once a year to protect the area’s mineral fields and the interests of the lead mineral owners.

Suzanne Porter and Juanita Haigh, both of Taylor&Emmet solicitors, have been appointed deputy stewards of the Wirksworth and Chatsworth Barmote Courts, which handle lead mining matters.

Suzanne said: “Derbyshire lead mining customs have been in place since the seventh or eighth centuries and it is an honour to be asked to preserve and protect these ancient practises for future generations.

“To become the first women to do so is a landmark moment in history and demonstrates that even traditions as old as these must move with the times.

“Juanita and I are excited to be starting a new chapter in the Barmote Court’s heritage.”

The old laws state that any subject of the realm has the right to search for lead, which could once be found everywhere in the limestone areas of Derbyshire.

If a miner finds lead, he must seek permission from the Barmaster – a surveyor responsible for the administration of the mineral field – to extract it and pay a percentage of his takings to the Lord of the Field.

And it is the job of a Barmote jury to resolve any disputes between miners and ensure they account properly for the Lord of the Field’s entitlement.

For more information on Taylor&Emmet phone 01629 812613, visit or follow the firm on Twitter @tayloremmet.