Welcome to Staunton Harold Hall
The Staunton Harold Estate is a traditional country estate of some 2000 acres, centred on the great Georgian mansion, Staunton Harold Hall. Family run, and ‘hands on’ in its management style, the estate has embraced modern uses for its diverse assets.
The Hall itself became a family home again in 2003, after fifty years of institutional use. With some eighty three rooms, the main building easily accommodates three generations of our family. Son-in-law, Tony Cantrill, has taken over the West Wing, now converted into high quality managed offices and conference facilities, known as LION COURT.
The suite of fine ‘State Rooms’ on the east and north front lend themselves to large functions, and here we host weddings and other events up to twelve times a year.
Our family’s involvement with Staunton Harold began in 1955, when we purchased the three farms at the core of the estate. These included the large Georgian stable block, which stood abandoned and ruinous. We put it in good repair, and in 1974 began its conversion to craft workshops and studios. Now known as the FERRERS CENTRE FOR ARTS AND CRAFTS this is a true ‘making’ centre with some eighteen businesses covering a range of disciplines. Most of our land is let to local farmers, but the four hundred acres of woodland we manage ourselves with a forestry team based at our estate sawmill. From here we sell firewood through the TEN MILE TIMBER COMPANY, and sawn material, mainly oak and larch, through Staunton Hardwoods, cut to customers’ requirements.
Our family business centres around maintaining and renting out property and a recent addition to this, built from our own timber, is DEERPARK LODGE. This is a holiday cottage, sleeping six, set among trees on a hill above the Hall. The hamlet of Staunton Harold includes a garden centre, in separate ownership, and a fine 17th century church, now in the care of the National Trust. We have become something of a walking and cycling centre, with adequate car parks and restaurants and seven routes radiating from the settlement.
What a world of scaredy cats we have become. And we, the English, who once had a reputation for independent thought and ‘bloodymindedness’ are as much caught up in it as any other nation.
We have sacrificed the quality of our lives for quantity, and no one can see the end of it. We have surrendered our personal freedom to a degree unprecedented, even in the darkest days of the Second World War. The collateral damage – job losses, operations deferred, mental and physical illness, the burgeoning of the National Debt – will be with us for a generation.
Who remembers the catchphrase ‘Don’t mention the war’ from the Fawlty Towers comedy? Now in the media and the corridors of power they surely have another one, ‘Don’t mention Sweden.’ That country chose a different path. People were encouraged rather than forced to take their own precautions. No child missed a day of school, cafes and bars remained open.
It is difficult to obtain comparative figures but the latest I’ve heard is that the the Swedish economy has shrunk by about half compared to ours, and their death rate is lower.
In all this disturbance there are a few compensations. Some are finding that they can work from home, or cycle to work, which must be good for the environment. Some who lose their jobs will strike out on their own, as happened after the collapse of Rolls Royce in 1971. We may not be meeting our pals down the pub, but some of us are getting to know our neighbours.
Here at Staunton Harold we kept the lawns and parkland open The Nurseries and Ferrers Centre have restarted, but I cannot say it is business as usual. This mask-wearing and ‘social distancing’ make a visit to the cafes and workshops a less convivial experience. Most days at some point you’ll find a crusty old fellow loitering in the Ferrers courtyard; Say Hello and offer a handshake – he belongs to a saner world.