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.
There are compensations for having to give up driving. As a passenger at this time of year i scan the hedgerows looking for the telltale signs of dead twigs on the ash trees. There are some round here, but the majority are still healthy.
There are ash trees in nearly all the woods at Staunton. They are most common on the clay soils on the southern, Ashby, side. Come to think of it, is that the origin of the name Ashby? They prefer an alkaline soil and are most common around the limestone outcrops at Breedon on the Hill and Dimminsdale.
So, what’s to be done. The disease is transmitted by spores and there is no known cure. One estimate I’ve read suggests that 97% of the trees will be lost, based on experience in Denmark. In some local areas the Forestry Commission and private owners have reacted by felling all the ash in their young plantations. Government agencies are working to identify disease resistant strains, but I feel this is premature when the outbreak is still ‘work in progress.’ As for ourselves, thinning a young plantation last year we took out alder, which is being killed stone dead by another disease, and left ash, which appeared healthy. By the way, that alder disease only appears in young trees planted at Coleorton after opencast mining, and not here at Staunton. This suggests it came in with the planting stock. There are lessons to be learnt.
And here again there is a silver lining of sorts. We sell logs through our Ten Mile Timber Company, and ash is the very best of timbers for burning.