Conservation and the environment is at the forefront of our decision making
The Abbots Ripton Estate runs up to the northern edge of Huntingdon and covers approximately 6,250 acres. Abbots Ripton and Wennington are set within one of the few remaining substantial areas of woodland in Huntingdonshire and as far back as 1610 the surroundings were shown as one of six deer parks in the county. Such a large number of trees in the landscape is unusual for Huntingdonshire and of particular importance and interest is the survival of many of the historically dominant species. The devastation of Dutch Elm disease was greatly reduced by injection, hygiene and hard work and today there are over a thousand living elms on the Estate, unique in southern Britain.
Over the last thirty years many new trees including ash, oak, lime, field maple and wild cherries have been planted by both the Abbots Ripton Estate and the Parish residents, with the consequence that from the air both Abbots Ripton and Wennington appear to be set within islands of trees interlaced with 14 miles of hedges and 96 ponds.
Traditionally farming in this county was mixed livestock and arable, grass was also needed to feed the work horses. In the 1930’s there were 22 let farms on the Abbots Ripton Estate of which 7 were derelict due to the Depression. Most of the surviving tenants owed several year’s rent. In those days one landowner would enquire of another “have you much land in hand?” “Yes, I am afraid I have” was often the reply! The need for home produced food in the Second World War brought derelict land back into production. Today there are 5 tenanted farms, each with an average size of 400 acres.
We farm the best of the land and also allow nature to flourish
The Estate farmland is mainly arable and we produce premium crops on hanslope series clays at Abbots Ripton and peatland fen and fen skirt soils at Ramsey and Chatteris. The total acreage owned is 6,250 of which 2,500 acres is let to long standing tenant farmers on a mix of AHA’s and FBT’s, further acreage is rented in and the in hand team farm 5,500ac. The main acreage is winter wheat, some of which is contracted to the UK’s largest bread and biscuit flour millers and bakers. The balance of the clay land grows barley, dried peas and spring beans.
200 acres of our fenland is dedicated to the production of quality potatoes to meet the demands of major supermarkets. We also grow specialist chipping varieties for traditional fish and chip shops, our own brand of M’lord spuds and our pub, The Elm. We grow maize as an alternative break crop to sugar beet currently which goes to fed cattle and then the slurry into an Anaerobic digester, with some of the digestate then returned to our soil as a green fertiliser. 30 acres of grassland is winter grazed by sheep and horses, hay is then cut in the spring. This grass land is also the location for our music festival The Secret Garden Party.
The estate meets the environmental demands of a Mid Tier-Countryside Stewardship agreement and is very aware of the environment. We are members of schemes which enhance wildlife habitat and our 9 reservoirs which irrigate our potatoes have been designed and managed with diversity of nature in mind as have the 758 km of man-made water courses. Electricity is generated from a 127-acre solar park and 13 barns fitted with solar panels.
Although we are intensive farmers, the family has always had great foresight and continues to maintain a conservation balance at the forefront of all decision making. We farm the best of the land but we also ensure that nature is allowed to flourish. Several thousand young trees have been planted in recent years to offset the losses and to compensate for the trees which were felled when old hedgerows were eliminated to improve field size and shapes.
There are over a thousand living elms on the estate, unique in Southern Britain
The 400 acres of ancient woodland on the Abbots Ripton Estate are an important addition to the landscape of a county which is short of trees. Our 1623 map shows more or less the same area of woodland as today. In the Middle Ages the woodland was worth more than the rather heavy farmland.
Much of the timber in the woods was depleted by two World Wars and by Dutch Elm disease. Thirty years of replanting with ash, oak and field maple is restoring the woods to their former condition – an act of faith at the time because until very recently their only value was sporting. For the last five years forestry grants and the increasing value of timber have helped restore both the conservation and timber values. Opening up the shaded rides has dried the woods and let in the sunlight, encouraging nectar bearing plants and a diversity of butterflies. Active management for timber production will help to maintain the improvements.
While conversion to 100% arable farming over the last sixty years has resulted in larger fields, lost habitat has been replaced by spinneys and new hedgerows by taking arable land out of production under the Farm Woodland grant scheme. These plantings such as the five acre Millennium Wood at Grange Farm are now making very visible improvements to landscape around Abbots Ripton. A Diamond Jubilee Wood has also been planted in the village.
A longer-term project has been the repurchase of the 90 acre Bevills Wood from the Forestry Commission. It is now being managed to recreate an ancient wood by the removal of the non-indigenous species. The Forestry Commission scheme for deer management is vital to the coppicing and re-growth essential to re-establishing indigenous species. Forestry has at last a brighter future with the rise in timber values and the introduction of Government schemes to encourage the use of wood for heating. The installation of a 150kw wood burning boiler has allowed the estate to reduce its carbon footprint and stimulate the active management of the woods.
Hedgerows, wildflower meadows and ponds provide a natural habitat for a diversity of flora and fauna
We have approximately 16 miles of hedge of which, three miles have been planted in the last 10 years. A wildflower meadow of 8 acres (3 hectares) has also been created under a Countryside Stewardship Scheme. We have 96 ponds, 6 of which are Great Crested Newt reserves, together with four reservoirs storing winter water – creating a large new aquatic habitat. Three of the reservoirs are also let for fishing, one for trout and the others for course fish. Every year we keep detailed records of the numbers and diversity of many sorts of fauna and flora e.g., fungi, woodland plants, moths, butterflies, birds etc. Thus, the range of soils and habitats are managed with diversity in mind.
We have 14 miles of footpaths, augmented by permissive paths. Access to special groups is provided by arrangement, e.g. Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Air Cadets and school parties.
Our woodlands are home to over 68 species of breeding birds
Our woodlands are home to over 68 species of breeding birds and in more recent years the population of mistle thrushes and green woodpeckers has increased. Another notable change has been the establishment of nuthatches as a regular breeding species and also the marsh tit which is on the Red Listed Species of Conservation Concern due to a greater than 50% decline in national population over the last 25 years.
We look forward to welcoming you
Visit the pub – The Elm which dates back to the late 15th Century has everything you want from your perfect countryside pub. We are extremely proud to offer a seasonally driven menu and believe that local suppliers and our own produce proves the highest quality. You can also stay in one of our simple but stylish bedrooms.
Visit the gardens - The Hall gardens cover an area of 8.5 acres and are surrounded by managed parkland. There are many fine old trees, large lawns, shrub rose, herbaceous and grey borders and there are six follies designed by the architect Peter Foster.
See garden opening times.
Walks - We have 14 miles of footpaths across the Estate. Access to special groups is also provided by arrangement.
You can find conservation and access details here.
Choose from our varied portfolio of superbly appointed residential properties
The homes we offer range from cosy thatched cottages to charming farmhouses, all are located in the village and surrounding countryside. We currently have over 90 characterful properties within the Estate.
When our properties become vacant our in-house building team continues to update and renovate, ensuring all homes meet our very high standards and are suitable for comfortable and contemporary living. All homes have access to broadband.
We value our long-term relationships with our tenants who have chosen to make Abbots Ripton their home.
Meet our Commercial Community
Our commercial property is very much at the heart of everything we do and we pride ourselves on helping local businesses to thrive in rural surroundings.
As our community continues to grow, we also recognise the vision of our tenants and we are delighted when their hard work is rewarded with commercial success.
“We set up Modern World Business Solutions in 2018 basing my business in one of the Estate’s commercial units in Ramsey. As the business expanded, I needed to move to more spacious premises, and we are now located at the heart of the Abbots Ripton Estate in a unit which was specifically designed and adapted by the Estate Manager and his team to meet all the needs of the business.
As the business continues to grow, we will always speak to the estate, they are the perfect landlord for local businesses and fully understand our requirements and challenges. It is also great to be part of a thriving business community in such a beautiful part of East Anglia”.
Warren Whitfield, MD of www.mwbsolutions.co.uk
A C Composites Ltd
Abbots Ripton Post Office/Store
Busy Bee Nursery
Cambs Sport Physio & Back Care
Churchgates Land Family Business Limited
Churton Master Thatchers
Civil Safety Drainage Ltd
Fellowes Farm Equine Clinic
Gauntlet Auto Project Limited
L'bidi Gallery Framing
Lennon James Property Ltd
Loads of Cakes
M World Business Solutions Ltd
National Farmers Union
Quo Vadis Gym
Round Wood Distillery Ltd
Rural Ramsey Museum
The Anchor Day Nursery Preschool Limited
Warren Access Huntingdon Ltd
A thriving and enterprising community set in beautiful surroundings
We take pride in our heritage and we are committed to playing our part in the future, ensuring that the Abbots Ripton Estate continues to be a desirable place to live, work and visit.
The Estate works alongside the community and we value the relationship that we have with all our neighbours. Over the centuries we have made land and buildings available for homes and places of work and today we offer a broad range of commercial and residential property and unique locations for events. Abbots Ripton also offers excellent facilities including the local primary school, the Post Office & Stores and our pub, The Elm. There is also a garage on the Estate.
Our Estate is located within easy reach of the A1 and the A14 and just a 30 minute drive from the beautiful city of Cambridge. Experience a warm welcome and superb hospitality at our countryside pub, The Elm or explore the delightful gardens of the Hall. You can also enjoy one of the many beautiful walks along 14 miles of footpaths, we also let our reservoirs for trout and course fishing.