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, 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.
Living with our Mistakes
When we bought into the Estate in 1955 there was still a home farm, which had provided milk and meat to the family when Earl Ferrers lived at the Hall. Bob Bignall, the farmer, and his son David lived in the two houses at the top of the walled avenue, still known as Home Farm and Park View. Below these houses there had once been iron railings and gates across the avenue and beside them a small brick and tile building, long abandoned.
I was recently given a photograph of this building as it was when I first knew it. Two rooms deep, with a quarry tile floor, it is tempting to think that this was a gate lodge, though I have no recollection of a fireplace. The other two entrances to the estate have substantial lodges; would the family have left this one unguarded?
Anyway, the building stood there, and this was in the days when cars were kept in garages. The Bignalls had acquired cars and wanted somewhere to put them. Conservation offices had not been invented, respect for architectural history was at a low ebb. With the thought that we were improving the estate we cheerfully knocked out the front and inner wall, put in sliding doors and formed a concrete apron.
The property passed to my brother’s side of the family, and has since been sold. We cannot put the clock back, but I wish we had not done that. Old men forget: this photograph beings it back to me, one we got wrong in those busy years.