About the Cranborne Estate
The Manor is the home of Viscount Cranborne, the eldest son of the 7th Marquess of Salisbury.
The original Manor house was built as a royal hunting lodge for King John in the 12th century. Cranborne Chase was a royal hunting ground from at least the time of William the Conqueror until the 17th century.
In 1604 the Manor and its surrounding land was acquired by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and Chief Minister to Queen Elizabeth I and James II. Under the 2nd Earl, in 1647, the west wing was remodelled by Captain Ryder, an associate of Inigo Jones. At the beginning of the 17th century the garden was laid out by Mounten Jennings and John Tradescant who supplied many of the original plants.
The house is not open to the public.
Farming and Conservation
The Estate farm manages both the in-hand farm, which is mostly arable, and the arable land belonging to a neighbour. The areas of grassland within the Estate, which are mostly river meadows, host an extensive beef suckler herd.
The rest of the land is taken up with environmental stewardship and wild bird cover crops. The main crops grown are wheat for animal feed, oil seed rape for bio-diesel or cooking oil and barley for the beer brewing industry or animal feed.
The Farm’s aim is to work with nature rather than against it. The fields feature beetle banks, brood strips, field margins and a hedge planting and laying programme, all with the aim of improving the habitat of the less common flora and fauna; this includes species such as grey partridge, yellowhammers, linnets, sky larks and brown hares.
The beef herd consists of roughly 50 breeding cows and two bulls. Half the herd is registered pedigree White Park, the other half is a more conventional cross-breed (with a Sussex bull). The cattle are outdoors for as much of the year as possible, on grass or over-wintered on stubble turnips. The herd is closed, only changing bulls occasionally, in order to preserve the high health status.
The Estate participates in two Schools’ Days each year. Last year the farm hosted 271 school children from four local schools. See www.countrysidelearning.org for further details.
The Farm also opens for Open Farm Sunday each June. 166 visitors came last year to see displays of cattle, machinery and other aspects of our agricultural activities. See the Open Farm Sunday website for details. The next Open Farm Sunday will be on 11th June 2017.
The Cranborne Estate woodlands cover 800 hectares and are a mosaic of coniferous and broadleaf woodland. The great species diversity is due to a wide variety of soils from thin soils over chalk in the north-west, through Reading Beds and London Clay to heathland soils in the south-east.
Since 2007 the Estate has adopted a forest policy based on Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) principles. CCF is a move away from plantation-style forestry of monocultures. It stems from a deeper understanding of natural forest processes and uses natural regeneration of tree species under a permanent canopy. This gives rise to forests of diverse species and structure, of greater resilience and ecological value, along with sustainable use of home-grown timber.
Changes within the forest are monitored for research purposes and the forest is linked to a French CCF Research Network. The aim of research is to understand the dynamic processes which occur within these irregular structures over time.