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.
Some recent conversations have set me thinking about the farms around Staunton, how they’ve changed in my lifetime and are set to change again.
When the twelfth Earl Ferrers put the estate up for auction in 1954 it included eight tenanted farms. The biggest had 266 acres, the smallest, Lount Farm, 39 acres. This small farm milked cows and kept pigs, as I recall. Horace Dunnicliffe and his wife raised their family, and the paid the rent, which was £95-10-0 per annum when we bought it. Their milk went to a local dairy, their pigs to Ashby market.
Today almost all of that 1192 acres of farmland, plus more elsewhere, has become just two farms. Springwood is a dairy farm, milking 470 cows. Hilltop Farm grows cereals and potatoes, plus a suckler herd on the pastures facing the Hall. The finished beef cattle go up to an abattoir in Lancashire, the milk goes daily, first to Staffordshire and then by larger tankers to Aylesbury or Leeds. Economies of scale have brought this about, but what about the dis-economies? Someone once told me that half the lorries we see on the motorways are carrying food, and I’m beginning to believe it must be true.
Both farms are run by families who were farming in the area when the estate was sold. What changes will they face in the wake of ‘Brexit’, Coronavirus, and the environmental agenda? In these unusual times, farm shops are booming, and raw milk from our neighbours at Calke Farm is seeing record sales. Will technology come to the aid of the drive for localism? Can we get a little close to a world that Horace would have recognised?