Manors varied greatly in size and composition, and some were not even contiguous plots of land. They generally ranged in size from 750 to 1,500 acres. There might be more than one village associated with a large manor; on the other hand, a manor could be small enough that only part of a village's inhabitants worked the estate. Peasants worked the lord's demesne a specified number of days a week, usually two or three.
Originally, the manor house was an informal collection of wood or stone buildings including a chapel, kitchen, farm buildings and, of course, the hall. The hall served as the meeting place for village business and was where the manorial court was held. As the centuries passed, manor houses became more strongly defended and took on some of the features of castles, including fortified walls, towers, and even moats.
Manors were sometimes given to knights as a way to support them as they served their king. They could also be owned outright by a nobleman or belong to the church. In the overwhelmingly agricultural economy of the Middle Ages, manors were the backbone of European life.