Although it is now winter there is no such a thing as “a quiet time” here on the estate. During these wet and gloomy days the team have an opportunity to catch up on maintenance jobs. Graham and Simon have been busy maintaining, servicing and cleaning all the machines we use so that in the summer months we are prepared to keep the grass cut and make haylage for all the horses and livestock.
Marcus has had yet again a very busy time and most of the sheep are out on keep to allow us to rest our fields for a couple of months. Currently we have groups of sheep in Halstock, Yeovil, Sherborne, Hooke and Misterton. It has been fantastic to see Chedington lamb back on the menu at Winyard’s Gap. Oscar has been able to reignite the passion for using our homegrown products and is now regularly butchering lambs alongside Barry for use in the pub. It won’t be long now until the New Forest Cluns and the Cross Breeds come indoors ready for lambing in March and April.
The cattle are all indoors now and loving their “all they can eat” platter of haylage. They are growing well and will hopefully provide Oscar and his team another home reared animal to use across the estate’s food and hospitality outlets.
Tim and Louise continue to work away to create and fulfil compost orders, Currently they working on a “Google” advertising campaign. This is the most common way of searching for products and we want to be at the top of the search list in the local area when people are looking for quality compost.
Tim has also been experimenting with adding biochar to compost which has come from the initial trial runs of turning waste from the horse yard into a usable product. These trials will be ongoing over the next few months but things are certainly looking good.
Back in November we were fortunate enough to be invited to the finals of The Southwest Farming Awards having made it to the final three out of an initial 22 entrees in the “Sustainability in Farming” category. Unfortunately we were pipped at the post and were runners up. This was an amazing achievement given where the estate started from 4 years ago and is a credit to the whole team.
Finally I would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2023 and another year of success across the estate.
– James Vickery
It has been a busy few months even with the Christmas holiday inbetween which was a welcome break.
We had the final push to get The Grange finished with the last of the decorating and the moving in of the furniture which all looks great. We are now running a new cable from The Grange to the generator so that it can have a backup supply if there is a power cut.
We have made a good start on the building of the additional twenty stables down at the indoor arena even though we have been up against it with the weather. Surely we cannot have much more rain, can we! So with the stables under way and the new store being built along with the wind breaker netting being replaced and the additional wash down bay built we should be in a good position to welcome the Prices by the end of next month.
We have started the refurbishment works to the isolation barn with it being turned into a gymnasium and the other side being fitted out into an organised storeroom for all the wedding tables, bins etc. The greenhouse at the Grange is also having a revamp with a new raised bed already having been built and filled with soil from the estate and topped off with Chedington Compost so as to accommodate for all the fresh vegetables, salad crops and cut flowers that we will be growing for both The Grange and the Winyard’s Gap pub.
The groom’s accommodation at Chapel Marsh Farm is complete and ready for Bek to furnish them now. All the new stables that are in the old motor bike barn are nearing completion along with the additional 11 in the cattle barn.
We will be due to start on the work for the car park at Gillingham which will include the refurbishment work needed at Pound House.
– Colin Maddock
Lower Chapel Marsh Farm, Beaminster
The winter months are never overly memorable in the Equestrian sector (or at least not memorable in the good way). The horses all enjoyed a good break over December with many of them taking full advantage of the aqua treadmill for some off season cross training. Thanks to the excellent turn out available, many were also able to enjoy an extended break out in the field. The team did an excellent job managing all the complications arising from ’The Big Freeze’ and the yard came through it relatively unscathed. A very big thank you goes to the team on the yard for their hard work during this month.
The New Year brings a new season and some very exciting months ahead for Chedington Equestrian. We have our Annual trip down to the Sunshine Tour in Spain coming up in February and upon our return, will have Team Price joining us. Tim and Jonelle Price are Eventings Power Couple and current World Number 1 and 2. They will bring with them a team of 30 horses and 5 staff and will be based down at the indoor facility. With this comes not only a great deal of prestige for the yard, but also a host of clients and opportunities for Chedington Equestrian. In true Chedington style, the extra 20+ boxes required are going up before our eyes and everyone has done a great job making sure things will be ready for them.
We sadly said goodbye to a very cherished member of the Chedington Equestrian Team, Ben Edwards. Ben has started his next chapter and is setting up his own business
– Bek Burton
Events at The Grange
We’ve had a great winter season at The Grange filled with lots of activity preparing for another busy year ahead. We had a packed month in December made up of holiday bookings and visits, culminating in several families staying for a lovely festive week over the Christmas break and welcomed back some repeat guests for New Year once again. Several of the larger groups in December had dinner parties planned and we were able to use the newly complete dining room in The Grange to host them, both events were a wonderful success and the guests are already hoping to return this year.
In addition, we saw many fruitful visits and meetings taking place late last year for potential groups planned by Richie and Tamara and with several dates already booked into the calendar we’re looking forward to hosting these new events throughout the rest of this year.
As we move into the new year we’re very pleased to have the entirety of The Grange up and running. Plenty of hard work has been going on in the main house over the past few months, with lots of decorating and furnishing as the final touches were added. As a result we’re excited to be welcoming our first official guests this month, with a special stay organised for the lovely staff at SOTS. We’re very much looking forward to incorporating the house into many of our upcoming events throughout the year as it opens up many opportunities.
We’ve continued to host viewings throughout the winter, booking in weddings for 2024 onwards and as we enter the new year planning for this summer begins in earnest. In particular we’re very happy to have recently scheduled in an Indian wedding for later this year which had the unlucky circumstances of having to be postponed several times over and will finally be taking place in August.
Heading into February we continue to host holiday lets and prepare for a busier period as we move into the spring, most of our bigger events will be taking place from March onward and we’re making the best of our time now to prepare and improve for the coming year.
– Nadia Hassan
The Old Brewery Cafe & Kitchen, Gillingham
Wow! What a busy Christmas season it was at ‘The Old Brewery’; the new bar area was finished in time for our Christmas lunches so a big thank you to Colin and his crew!
The weeks leading up to Christmas were so busy that we set ourselves some new weekly sales records. It was a great experience and gave us some ideas of what to do this year. With plenty of space in the showroom we were able to accommodate quite a few larger parties for our wonderful Christmas lunch, many opting for two courses and some even returning to bring other friends and families, complimenting us on our lovely food and service. With a buzzing atmosphere the drinks were flowing and everyone was happy! It was a hugely successful Christmas period, and I can’t thank our staff enough for all their hard work to make it work so well.
Now on to 2023 – we have our new conference / private meeting rooms being refurbished this month by Colin and his crew, ready to start taking reservations from February. We are all immensely excited at this venture, particularly given the amount of interest we’ve had in recent months.
Chedington Lamb is coming on the menu very soon, with roast lamb being served next week as our weekly roast special, always a popular one.
From us to you, here’s hoping everyone has a good start to 2023.
– Laurel Phillips and Steve Angell
Winyard’s Gap Inn, Chedington
With the Christmas decorations having (sadly) come down, we’re now looking ahead to the new year – with April 2023 marking what will become our first full year of having Winyard’s as part of the Chedington Estate family. We’re thankful for a busy and successful Christmas season at the pub, with lots of positive feedback for our seasonal set menu. In the hospitality industry, we always work a season ahead, so we’re already thinking about what we can do to serve up another triumphant summer. We also want to say a big thank you to all the Estate team who have supported us over the course of 2022.
– Lucy Ellis & Graeme Hillman
Salon on the Square
In December we had our best month ever in terms of number of guests and revenue, which wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for my fantastic team. They soldiered through fully booked columns, ducked and weaved through coughs and sniffles and answered the phone that would never stop ringing, all with a smile on their face and with impeccable professionalism. We now have a small window where we can recoup and have our Christmas Party! Thank you to The Grange for allowing us to use your incredible facilities, it was just what we needed and a fun night was had by all. For me, January is a great time to think about the remainder of the year and where we are on our growth plans. It’s also given me some time to work on developing some exciting partnerships which I hope to share with you at a later date.
A note from Geoffrey & Kate
Kate and I wish you a happy and hopefully very prosperous New Year.
Over the past eight years or so, Kate and I have helped to establish the Barts Heritage Trust and continue to provide support. You may recall that we met His Majesty King Charles last May when he became the patron. The trust has been raising funds to restore the magnificent Great Hall at Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, where as a student nurse and newly qualified doctor, Kate and I met over 42 years ago. Just before Christmas the Trust was honoured, at rather short notice, with a visit to the Great Hall by His Majesty, to whom we were most pleased to be presented.
Turning to the Estate one can see from this newsletter that all departments have been or are about to become very busy indeed.
In further pursuit of our environmental and sustainability efforts, we have been developing with the Exeter Retort company, a novel technology to permit the conversion of soiled horse bedding into biochar. Using conventional retorts wood shavings tend to compress and the conversion is incomplete. To address this a prototype rotating retort similar to a tumble dryer but operating at up to 600°C has been constructed. We have supplied soiled horse bedding wood shavings for several trial runs. The findings from this will enable us to design and build full-scale equipment to enable us to cope with over 13 tons of wood shavings per week.
The biochar from these initial trial runs is being used by Tim Ford in a series of tests to assess and evaluate the best way to incorporate into our compost.
To complete the cycle of taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and burying it into the ground we now have, in principle, agreement with our good neighbour, Rob Appleby to source timber from Chedington Woods and make our own shavings. With the yard soon being able to host 85 horses, we will need to produce over 200 tons of wood shavings per year.
As James has mentioned, we have most of the flock at keep in and around the area in order to rest some of our land. This and the planting of fodder and other crops, in addition to dedicating land for new turnout means that we will be optimising our flock, and Marcus will concentrate on our Poll Dorset and Dorset horn sheep. The smaller footprint of the pure-bred flock will allow us to continue to produce high-quality Haylage for our resident equine guests whilst still providing lamb, and in due course beef for our kitchens.
Our plans to increase the diversity of clientele at The Grange are beginning to bear fruit. Richie has hosted over the past few weeks celebrities and wellness retreat specialists. The guests participated in a range of wellness and fitness activities (including sitting in the hot tubs filled with ice) and enjoyed Oscar’s cuisine. The diary is now filling with such bookings throughout the year. To these, we add our car enthusiast mid week stays, a number of wedding bookings and holiday lets. Kate and I thank the whole team for all their hard work in helping to get the main house ready for the season.
November saw the incorporation into the group of a new activity, Pivot Productions. Pivot run by Paul Tapner, himself an ex-professional eventer and Badminton winner (2010) specialises mainly in outdoor broadcast of the cross country phase of Eventing as can be seen on the Horse and Country, and Clip My Horse live streams. In addition, Paul and his team using the state of the art technology that we developed during the lockdown of Covid, have also covered motorsport, premier club rugby and reality television. We welcome Paul into the Chedington family and very much look forward to working more closely with him.
I’m sure all of our staff and followers will congratulate Lucy and John upon the announcement of their engagement to marry. We are delighted that they have elected to have their wedding in the Great Hall at the Court and afterwards at The Grange.
Finally, tucked away as we are, on top of the hill in upland Dorset, many local residents and neighbours are unaware of all that’s going on here on the estate. In order to address this, we are planning an estate wide open day to include SOTS and the pub on Saturday 27th of May to showcase all aspects of our work.
The planning starts now!
– Geoffrey Guy