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.
The Naming of Parts
If you had met Leonard Cheshire, as I did a couple of times, you wouldn’t suspect his extraordinary achievements. Quiet and unassuming, he led by example. Awarded a VC for his work as a bomber pilot at the end of the war against Germany, he was a passenger on the US plane which dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
Back in civvy street, and after a failed venture in the south of England, he found himself caring for a chum with a long term incurable illness. He realised that the health service had no provision for these sort of patients and this led him to found the first of his Cheshire Homes.
The Dowager Countess Ferrers first contacted him with a gift of clothes from her late husband. Then she persuaded him to come and look at her family’s ancestral home in Leicestershire. Staunton Hall, with seventy acres of gardens and parkland, had been sold in 1954 to a demolition company. Semi-derelict after use as a prisoner-of-war camp, we locals loved the house but could see no future for it. Leonard Cheshire took it on, though with no money to pay for it, and unleashed such a torrent of generosity and goodwill that it went on to become the largest of his Cheshire Homes.
One thing he did to raise some cash was to sell the stand of beech trees on the knoll above the Serpentine Lake, and replant with a mixture of beech and scots pine. These were well established when my family bought the lake and hillside from the trustees in 1974. I carried out a thinning, which my father said was too heavy – we always disagreed on this subject. Today they make a splendid setting for the holiday lodge which our children have built close by.
But this wood has no name, and Cheshire no memorial nearby. So, with family agreement we are going to call this Leonard’s Wood, and carve a plaque for it on the nearly Staunton Ridgeway. After all, we owe it to him that the house is here at all.