Well what else is there to say about the weather? Usually by now we have been grass cutting and have the cross-country course back to its best after the winter, but at the moment, we have not even set foot on the cross-country course and have only cut a few lawns as the rain just does not let up.
In the brief few days of glorious sunshine over the Easter weekend we did manage to plough and drill the 11.5 acres of malting barley at North Buckham Farm. If this makes the grade once combined in August we will hopefully be able to start the process of making our own beer.
Along with our lamb and beef and not forgetting the vegetables, fruits and herbs Ricky is growing, these home grown and reared produce will certainly compliment the menus at The Winyard’s Gap, The Old Brewery Café and events at The Grange.
Marcus and assistant shepherd Ellie Hughes are in the full swing of lambing and in just over 2 weeks have lambed 300 out of the 410 ewes. This has been a monumental effort from Marcus, his wife Lucy, Ellie, our vet student Jack, Tim, Louise and their children George & Izzy and I cannot thank them all enough for all the hours they have put in so far. Lambing always throws all sorts of challenges at you and this team have been there around the clock to do the best they can for every ewe and lamb.
As if Marcus didn’t have enough on over the Easter weekend he has taken 260 Dorset ewes over to Chedington to go with the rams ready for lambing in early September. Let’s hope you can get some sleep before then Marcus?
Tim and Louise have had a great start to the year with the compost. A dry February and early March got the orders flooding in and customers have positively commented on the consistency of the quality of the products Tim is producing and the efforts made to deliver within a couple of days of placing an order. In early March Tim and Louise secured their biggest single order to date, a 40-bag order was completed within 3 days of the order being placed.
Simon and Graham have been busy with maintenance jobs across the estate and Graham’s fabricating skills have been put to extensive use making anything from window guards for the stables to altering the Monarch stable partitions to get them to fit. This skill set is a great addition to the Estate.
Simon Williams, our fencing perfectionist, has been back on the estate erecting more horse paddocks for Tim and Jonelle Price’s horses. In total he has erected 7 additional paddocks covering 23 acres.
Our bio-char retort project is going very well and the last few burns in the prototype retort has seen 10.3kg of biochar being produced from 45kg of horse yard shavings. This retort will be working on our open day in May.
Let’s hope the weather improves soon and gives us the opportunity to get the estate looking as it should ready for the Open Day on the 27th May.
– James Vickery
Well, what can I say, the atrocious weather has really played a big part across the Estate over the last couple of months, but hopefully we have turned the corner and the sun will start to show its face very soon, which I am sure James, and the farming team will be glad of.
Firstly, I would like to welcome our newest member of staff James Aplin (Jim) who has recently joined our gardening team here at the Court. Jim has a wealth of experience within the horticultural field having worked for Knighton countryside management for several years, he has fitted in nicely with the team and he will work alongside Ricky to gain as much knowledge to do with the propagation and cuttings so that it takes some of the pressure off Ricky going forward.
Ricky and his team have been busy with all the cutting back and mulching of the beds needed within the Court garden and across the estate and they have made great inroads on the cuttings needed for this year’s planting, of which they have started already with a team planting up the beds at The Old Brewery Café. They have also made a great start with the sowing of the herbs, fruit, and salad crop at the Grange greenhouse so that Oscar, Gordie and the chefs at the pub can be supplied with home grown produce which will complement the superb beef and lamb that’s being produced on the Estate.
The building team have also had a torrid time with the weather but have done a great job managing to get the work done. We have the additional 20 stables at the indoor arena completed and are now occupied and the Prices are happily occupying them. We have also nearly completed the works on building the new aqua training room down at the indoor arena for the Prices to use. The new gymnasium at the Grange is coming along nicely and we are almost at a point now once the new windows and doors are installed in early May for Ritchie to install all the new equipment.
We will shortly be welcoming Ellie back from her travels to Chedington over the next couple of days, where she will be based at Chapel Marsh Farm. We have been busy converting the old dairy into seven stables for her, along with sorting out Ellie’s and her groom’s accommodation and I have to say that it all looks great.
We have finally moved the groom’s accommodation unit from behind the indoor arena last week and we had to hire in a 55-tonne crane to move it from The Grange over to Chapel Marsh Farm. We could not have chosen a worse day to do this! The weather was hideous with howling winds and torrential rain but with help from Garry, Dean and Lee from Cahills, and I have to say some expert tractor driving from James, we managed to position it down at the farm, which was good timing I have to say, as we have a rider coming over from Spain moving into it shortly!
Over at Gillingham, we have been busy carrying out a full refurbishment of Pound House with a new bathroom, utility room and a complete redecoration job. Great work team!
It’s never a dull day on the Chedington Estate.
– Colin Maddock
Lower Chapel Marsh Farm, Beaminster
Spring (if we can call it that) 2023 has been one of the busiest yet at Chedington Equestrian. A huge amount of work went in down at the indoor school to ready the site for the arrival of Team Price and their 36 horses. As a result of the incessant rain and proceeding snow, the indoor arena was busy with horses as well as builders. We were very lucky to have the option to train indoors despite the inclement weather. It is a huge asset to the estate.
Chedington Equestrian also welcomed Cosby Green and her three horses from the USA. Cosby is basing at Chedington for the Eventing season and training with Tim and Jonelle. We also look forward to Ellie and her team of horses joining us at the end of the month. It is lovely seeing the facility full and busy and we look forward to following all the great results destined for the year.
At the time of writing Team Burton are competing in St Tropez and have enjoyed a number of wins and placings. Most notably Chedington Hazy Toulana placing third in the big ranking class and Chedington Blue picking up some top placings in his first show of the year. I also dusted off my competition gear after 10 years off and took Tim’s lovely old eventing champion, Wesko, for some fun in the sun. We even managed to secure the win in the small class.
The eventing season has been slow to get going with all the wet weather and most of the events cancelling. The big focus on the horizon is Badminton Horse Trials at the beginning of May.
– Bek Burton
Tim and Jonelle Price hosted an Owners day at the indoor school to show off their new base to all their clients, this included a tour, ridden demonstration and lunch in the viewing gallery. Dorset didn’t exactly show off the best weather but everyone had a great time and a number of the attendees also stayed in the various accommodation offerings around the estate.
Events at The Grange
As we move into spring things are getting pretty busy at The Grange! We’ve had lots of holiday bookings in the houses already and are pleased to have been able to make ample use of the function spaces in the main house for various dinners and events. Our yearly events with V Management have begun in partnership with their usual Ferrari groups and we’ve already had some amazing feedback from them.
Things are also well underway with Chedington Lifestyle as Richie and Tamara have hosted a number of events so far this spring and have several more in the works over the following months. Work on the gym is also advancing quickly and everyone is very excited for the opportunity to incorporate this new offering. We’re also looking forward to the estate-wide open day, we’ll be finalising the details for this over the next couple of months and are excited to be able to showcase the various aspects of The Grange. We’re keeping busy with the usual wedding viewings and tastings and look forward to the start of the wedding season a little later this year as well.
– Nadia Hassan
The Old Brewery Cafe & Kitchen, Gillingham
This spring has certainly started chillier than we’d like but the bikers are beginning to bloom and are heading straight back to The Old Brewery for their favourite breakfast options. From May the garden will be open once again and there will be more covers outside than in, leaving room to spread out our popular bike collection. Soon work will start on our car park expansion surely to be appreciated by all who try (but often fail) to squeeze their cars in between the multitude of motorbikes that adorn the outside during the summer, and the wildlife pond. Bring on those hazy summer days!
In March we hosted a filming session for a promotional video using Geoffrey’s bike collection as a backdrop. This exciting adventure, in conjunction with a bespoke van conversion company, will be featured on our website in the next few weeks.
Back to the food theme, May brings us a function booking of 90 for our first evening dinner; a step into uncharted waters! In addition, we are also proud to be hosting the launch party for the Gillingham area Marketing West Business Awards helping to introduce The Old Brewery to other local businesses. In return for the venue, The Chedington Court Estate will be listed as a sponsor. The awards ceremony itself will also be held here later this year. https://www.gillinghambusinessawards.co.uk/
We have been promoting both Chedington lamb and beef for our Wednesday roast lunches, both proving to be very popular with our regular afficionados who can tell proper meat from supermarket stuff a mile away. Everyone is having fun thinking up new dishes to use this extra tasty meat!
– Laurel Phillips and Steve Angell
Winyard’s Gap Inn, Chedington
Finally Spring is in the air and the garden is getting busy again! With all of the ground works now fully completed we’re just waiting for the grass to grow and it’ll be full steam ahead for another busy summer.
At the end of March we were awarded a five star rating from Environmental Health Department for food hygiene. Congratulations to all the team for their contributions and hard work to maintain such great standards.
This week we will be introducing our all new menu. Lots of new and enticing dishes will be on offer including dishes made with our own Chedington Estate Lamb and Beef. Also, the gardening team are busy bringing on a range of home grown vegetables and herbs for us to use.
To go along side this, we are changing our principal brewing company from Heineken UK to Carlsberg UK who I know are very keen to launch their many new and exciting products on the bar. You’ll be able to pop in and sample these delights from the end of April.
– Lucy Ellis & Graeme Hillman
Salon on the Square
We’re delighted to share that Aaron at Barber on the Square has seen an increase in customers following a successful social media ad campaign. Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word!
We’ve been keeping busy here at the salon, including some members of our team taking advantage of continued development training at AVEDA in London. This has been an incredible opportunity for our staff to enhance their skills and bring back new techniques and knowledge to share with our Guests.
Looking ahead, we’re excited to announce that we’re planning to update our systems to improve the customer booking experience. We understand how important it is to book appointments easily and efficiently, so we’re working hard to ensure our system is up-to-date and user-friendly.
In addition to our system updates, we’re also planning to decorate and replace some equipment in the hair washroom. Our Guests’ comfort and satisfaction are paramount, and we believe these updates will help us achieve our goal of providing the best experience possible.
Lastly, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve entered ‘Team SOTS’ in Dragon Boat Racing at the Sherborne County Fair on 29th May! We’re always looking for ways to get involved in the community, and this event sounded like the perfect opportunity. If you’re interested in volunteering for our team, please don’t hesitate to let us know.
A note from Geoffrey & Kate
With the arrival of Tim and Jonelle Price with over 30 horses, their “pupils” from United States and Spain and indeed the return home of Ellie, the yard is a hub of activity. The imminent completion of the Home Yard at Chapel Marsh Farm will enable us to accommodate about 85 competition and staff horses.
Kate and I are delighted to have our daughter, Ellie, return to Dorset after four years living and competing on the continent. Her horses will be in the new stables installed in the Old Dairy necessitating relocation of my motorbike collection to the Old Brewery Cafe in Gillingham!
The welcome break in the wet weather over Easter allowed us to drill the barley with the prospect of us commissioning our own beers to be made in a number of the local Dorset breweries. Tasting sessions with brewers and visits to malt houses have begun.
With a Pub, a cafe and events at the Grange, Estate reared lamb and beef, home grown produce and our own beer to add to our Chedington labelled beverages, inevitably comparisons with a well known Oxfordshire journalist come farmer are being implied! Our highly skilled and very professional teams however ensure far less drama and smoother delivery of our products and services across the board.
Finally we look forward to welcoming the public, our contractors, friends and their families to the Estate Open Day on 27th May. We often hear of conversations locally about what might or might not be going on up on the hill. Kate thought it would be a good idea to show them. We will open the houses, the horse yards, our wellness, wedding and events facilities and our farms with young lambs, beef cattle as well as compost production and the Chedington Retort prototype biochar plant. Our catering teams from the Grange and the Winyard’s Gap pub will be offering refreshments and tasting samples all free of charge.
Let’s just keep our fingers crossed for fair weather.