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Gaddesden Estate News September 2019
With this very wet August, bearing in mind that I am writing before the predicted warm and dry August Bank Holiday, we have not yet started to cut the wheat or the barley, though we are expecting that the combine harvester will begin this very afternoon.
The first wheat to be cut will be the “JB Diego” on the slopes of the Gade Valley overlooking Water End and Great Gaddesden.  Hopefully it will have kept its quality through all the wet weather and will be good enough to be made into Weetabix.  Too much rain during harvest means that the wheat can begin to sprout, meaning it is only good for animal feed. 

The ground will then be sown with Oilseed rape almost straight away. This year’s rape harvest in July, on Whitehouse and Upperwood Farms, north of Gaddesden Row, went well and it has all been sold and moved. The land has been cultivated ready for 2020 winter wheat.
Our linseed, lovely though the blue flowers looked a few weeks ago, has been infested with weeds, notably black grass and fat hen. The latter is a close relative of the popular health food, Quinoa. Cutting will need to wait until it is fully ripe and the stalks are thoroughly dry. Otherwise the straw causes a block-up inside the combine harvester, which can be difficult, not to say very uncomfortable to clear.  In the past the straw was used for making rope, so it can be very tough!

Market prices for all commodities are very volatile at the moment, with currency fluctuations, Brexit uncertainty over tariffs, erratic predictions of the American crop and Trump’s trade wars all playing a part. 

Upperwood Farm
We recently had a visit from Jeff Graham of Nevada, the son of the late Mac Graham, and whose grandfather was Mr Thomas Graham, the former farm tenant of Upperwood Farm; indeed, my father often referred to the farm as “Graham’s” long after he had retired.
He kindly delivered a packet of farm records dating from the 1930s and 1940s, including interesting soil surveys and cattle movement books.

Another unusual historic document, which we were shown the other day, was a printed notice of Second World War invasion precautions signed by my grandfather, Canon Frederick Halsey, who was chairman of the Parish Council at the time¸ as well as being the vicar.

Forestry – High Park Wood- and deer management
The felling of the ash trees in High Park Wood has not begun yet, though the contractors are due this month. I apologise for any disruption there may be to walkers.

The deer have been playing havoc again to the young trees in Big Wood. When harvest is completed our stalker will be undertaking his annual deer count. Even with culling, we anticipate that this will rise again. Deer numbers are anticipated to be particularly high in Abel’s Grove and Newlands Wood, just over the Flamstead parish boundary.

Former Pub Garden in Briden’s Camp
We were delighted with the number of residents who attended the exhibition in the Cricket Pavilion to view the proposed development in Briden’s Camp.  We would like to mention our appreciation and to thank everybody who came and participated.  We are evaluating the comments received and the proposals will be revised to address local concerns.

Estate Management
Little to report¸ apart from regular maintenance, though we had a major water leak at the Home farm on the old brittle alkathene pipe. This was very new and up to date when installed in the 1960s but has been subject to leaks in flinty ground for many years. This has now been replaced by a new length of pipe and we believe that there is little of the old pipe still in use around the estate, apart from some of the field supplies at Hawbush Farm and the Park in front of Gaddesden Place.

Charity Ride
The summer “Park and Rides” have gone well this year, following a relatively slow start, due to the hard work of Chantal and the RDA Volunteers, not to mention Rob Pratt and his Wagu beef burgers! The Charity Ride, in aid of the Gaddesden Place Group of the Riding for the Disabled Association, takes place on 15th September.  Entries, as usual, are via the “Equo” website:
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Gaddesden Estate News July/August 2019
Before I go into thoughts about farming and harvest there is one important subject which I must mention:
Public consultation for the land south of The Crown and Sceptre, Bridens Camp
The Gaddesden Estate is working with Wheatley, a Hertfordshire based housebuilder, on proposals to develop the land south of The Crown and Sceptre in Bridens Camp, to provide 9 new homes. We intend to submit a planning application for this site soon. Before we do so, we wish to give local residents an overview of the site’s history, present the proposed development plans and provide the chance for people to give feedback at a public consultation event we are to hold.
We appreciate that this is a sensitive site to redevelop and we have worked closely with Wheatley in the design of the scheme. The brief to the architects was to produce a scheme that would look as if it has always been there. As such, we have sought to mirror the design of the existing houses. We propose a mixture of 2, 3 and 4 bedroom houses. Arranged as terraced, semi-detached and detached houses, all will be 2-storey. Vehicular access to these houses will be from the bridle path, with car parking located behind the houses. This road will be improved. The scheme will also bring improvements to the T-junction of the bridle path and Red Lion Lane. In turn, this will require a new bus shelter. The existing wooded area along the site’s eastern boundary will be retained.
We understand that there is an urgent need for more housing in the UK.  We believe building new homes within Bridens Camp the will help sustain the hamlet’s existing services, whilst making use of an unused acre of land located between the existing houses.
We hope you will like our scheme.  Please do come along to have a look at our design and give your feedback at the consultation event, which is to be held at the Great Gaddesden Cricket Club’s Green Pavilion on Saturday 20th July from 9am to 12:30pm.
We are nearly at the point now when we can, in the colloquial expression, “shut the gate” on the arable land.  The wheats though need one more fungicide to protect the flowering plants from disease.  Wheat can be particularly vulnerable to a disease at this point which produces toxins in the grain, meaning it can be unfit for human consumption.  Since we hope most of the wheat will go into Weetabix we need to ensure that the plants are protected.  From then on it will be a case of waiting for the crops to ripen and praying for fine weather.  The spring barley too is flowering and seems to be developing very fast this year, helped by its early sowing in the February heatwave.  As I write this in the third week of June, the linseed is just beginning to display its beautiful blue flowers, and the oilseed rape north of Gaddesden Row will be ready to cut in a few weeks.
In the lull before harvest, we take the opportunity thoroughly to clean the grain stores and the drying ducts, ready to receive the grain as it comes in off the combine.  It is also a good time to carry out machinery maintenance.
Our grazing tenants have shorn their sheep and during the next few weeks will be haymaking in the fields around the Golden Parsonage, also hoping for a reasonable spell of fine weather.

Estate Maintenance
As part of our efforts to be as “green” as we can, six years ago we installed Solar Photovoltaic panels on the roof of our No 4 building. For the first time we have had these cleaned in order to prevent the build-up of moss and lichen, which can affect their efficiency.  It’s a job we could do ourselves in future as three of the team have just passed their cherry picker test. The day of the test was made more entertaining by the fact that the test machine broke down when one of them was 18 metres up in the air.  Thankfully not for long though, and he has safely now returned to earth! 

High Park Wood
A reminder from last month’s Newsletter: The thinning of High Park Wood is due to begin in the next few weeks. We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause walkers. Part of the need for the thinning and removal of the ash trees at this time is that the Ash Dieback disease, commonly called “Chalara” can cause mature ash trees to drop limbs unexpectedly. As there are several public footpaths in the wood, this is something we have to take very seriously.

Ride and Horse grazing
Ride membership was renewed at the 1st June. We had many members calling into the Estate Office which provides a good chance to meet members and to sound them out about improvements or maintenance of the Ride. Welcome to any new members from Flamstead Pony Club, we have had a great response from you! If anybody would like to join, membership is limited but some spaces are still available, Please contact [email protected]
We are pleased that at present all our horse paddocks are occupied. We are beginning summer grassland maintenance.

Park and Ride
We have had some very enjoyable “Park and Rides” this summer. The next events are on 14th July and 11th August, with the Charity Ride, held in aid of Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled, on 15th September. We get masses of good feedback on our Facebook page and riders seem thoroughly to enjoy the day, not least breakfast baps and Wagu Burgers from Marbled Meats!
We welcome riders of all abilities; booking is through Entry is £20 and £25 for the Charity Ride. For more information see

American Halseys
Having heard very little from across the Atlantic in the earlier part of this year, we now have several visits arranged from members of the Halsey family in the United States. As I may have mentioned before, Thomas Halsey emigrated to New England in the 1630s and begat a large number of descendants, who spread over the whole of the USA. Many families remained, though, in his home town of Southampton, Long Island, NY, where several still farm the sandy land, and where his house of around 1650 still stands.

1520 -2020
Next year will see 500 years since John Halsey took a lease of the Golden Parsonage and Grove Farm (which became the Home Farm in 1870) from the Prior of King’s Langley, who was also the Rector of Great Gaddesden. While John is first heard of in 1513, the family are recorded in the parish having land at Stags End in 1434 and Richard Halsey was the signatory of a deed with the Prior of 1458.

Has anyone heard a cuckoo this year? I certainly have not, for the very first time! There seems to be a worrying decline in some bird numbers. Is this due to climate change, drought in the Sahel region of Africa, or what? Swallows, swifts and house martins seem to be very scarce , though there are a large number of goldfinches around. I saw some lapwings in the spring, but only one pair. Another bird we used to see regularly was the Little Owl, but no longer, and sparrows which used to frequent the farmyard have virtually disappeared. On the estate we have ancient woodland as well as old grassland,and the farm has planted wild bird cover and ”pollen and nectar” mixtures for bees and other pollinators, photos of which will be on our facebook page.
The other evening we did though see a fallow deer “pricket”, a young buck, playing on the lawn outside our bedroom window. Fortunately, he has not yet found the roses! 

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Gaddesden Estate News June 2019
I ought to begin this month’s report by giving apologies for not writing in the Newsletter for both April and May this year.
As usual I start with farming, looking first at the arable side. This year our spring cropping is divided between Barley, Planet, and Linseed, Marquise. Linseed has not been grown on the farm for 20 years or so, and we look forward to its beautiful purple flowers, which will be great for the bees.  The plants are very small at the moment and are being badly eaten by flax flea beetle.  We are though trying not to use any insecticides on the farm and hope that with some warmth it will recover. 

The barley is grown for malting and we hope will be good enough quality to be used by brewers or distillers to produce beer and whisky. One of the fields, which is called “Long Robins” is now in its third year as an experiment in “No Till”, i.e. sowing straight into the soil without ploughing or cultivating, as opposed to the rest of the land which is “Min Till”, minimum tillage, still no ploughing, but with some cultivations. We are delighted with the number of earthworms these systems encourage, which do much of our cultivation for us, as they burrow into the soil and digest the surface residue.  No Till also has the twin benefits of greatly reducing fuel usage in planting the crop and preserving carbon in the soil as organic matter.  Cultivation, and in particular ploughing, brings air into the soil and over time tends to reduce the organic matter as the carbon is lost to the atmosphere through oxidation.

As a slight caveat on the carbon friendly methods of husbandry is that these rely on good weed control following the previous crop. This entails the weed-killer glyphosate, often known as “Roundup”, which has been much in the news recently.  Were this ever to be banned, as some authorities have proposed, carbon friendly arable farming would become well-nigh impossible and we would revert to traditional ploughing and cultivations.

The winter crops are as usual wheat, of which we are growing two varieties called JB Diego and, Graham.  They have a variety of uses, but may well end up as Weetabix, as did much of last year’s wheat crop.  The Oilseed Rape, Extrovert, is just finishing flowering and is “podding up” nicely.  The crushed seeds of this member of the cabbage or brassica family are used as a lubricant or in cooking, for example in mayonnaise.

It is essential that all conventionally grown crops are fed with the right nutrients and protected from pests and diseases and this means a very busy time for farmers, particularly in springtime and early summer.
With the changes brought about by the new Agriculture Bill and Brexit we are tentatively looking at organic systems. I last investigated this in the early 1990s, but at the time did not believe it would be suitable, though much has changed since then.

A reminder to all walkers in High Park Wood and the Water End Meadows that in June we will be harvesting ash trees from High Park Wood. The timber will be hauled from the wood, along the fence in the Water Park Meadow, to a stacking area by the gate on “The Lady’s Mile” (Nettleden Road), ready to be transferred to lorries. Signs will be erected to warn people of forestry operations.
Incidentally the word “Park” in both the names of the wood and the meadow is because they were once part of a mediaeval deer park.
The trees we “beat up” in Big Wood, that is replacing those which had failed last year, mostly Douglas Fir, came from 100 or so we grew from seed in the greenhouse and the kitchen garden at the Golden Parsonage. So far, they seem to be happy.
Recently I had the privilege of visiting an estate in Suffolk which practices a system of growing high-quality oak in around 100 years, developed in France, by carefully selecting the seed stock, often from Holland or Denmark. Then it is planted at 1m x 1.5m spacing, mainly pure oak (not usually a mixture). The “winning” trees are selected at an early age and then the trees surrounding them are regularly removed, allowing the crowns to develop, without touching any other trees. The trees are high pruned as necessary. From what readers will remember from previous comments, this system is dependent on control of deer and grey squirrels!

Oak for Notre Dame
After the disastrous fire in the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, Historic Houses put out an appeal for members to donate an oak tree for the rebuilding of the roof. Surprisingly it is unlikely that there are enough suitable oaks in France. We have offered a tree, though whether it will be needed, having seen some of the futuristic designs suggested, is uncertain.
Waste of the Manor
The Manor of Great Gaddesden, in the sense of “Lordship of the Manor” was acquired by Sir Walter Halsey from Earl Brownlow’s Ashridge Estate in 1928, when that estate was broken up to pay Death Duties. Sir Walter’s family had already held the Manor of Hemel Hempstead, including Bovingdon and Flaunden, since the early 1700s. In practice today all that remains is the Waste of the Manors, being much of the roadside verges in Gaddesden Row, Bradden Lane and Ballingdon Bottom and part of Water End Moor.

Estate maintenance
Property maintenance is a perennial task, always getting busier in the summer months. So far this year we have installed one new central heating boiler and we are now looking at upgrading some of the oil tanks. We are continuing the programme to install double glazed windows where appropriate and external redecoration is proceeding apace.

A great excitement has been the re-building of the 12 ft garden wall at eighteenth century Gaddesden Place Stables. This was built by the architect of Gaddesden Place, James Wyatt. This wall fell over several years ago, possibly due to ground subsidence. We saved the bricks on pallets at the Home Farm and have been planning to rebuild the wall for some time and are using lime mortar as it our forebears did.
The cleaning and servicing of gutters around the estate is an important annual job; we have installed new extruded aluminium gutters on the Atcost building at the Home Farm, formerly used as a cubicle house for the dairy herd, as well as replacing several corrugated roof panels. A less pleasant task has been the investigation of faulty drains at various properties, including Gaddesden Row School!

Horse Enterprise
Horses continue to play an important part in the estate business. The ride has had its annual survey and jump repair and new jumps have been introduced; as always though, there is more ongoing work to do.
If you are a member of the Gaddesden Estate Ride, remember that annual renewal is in June.

The monthly Park and Rides are continuing for this year each month, though their future is dependent on take-up. Bookings, as usual are through the Equo website:
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Gaddesden Estate News March 2019
I begin this month with forestry, which will be of interest to walkers in High Park Wood and on the public footpath in the Water Park Meadow. We will be thinning the ash trees in the wood in accordance with our Forestry Commission Felling Licence granted in 2012 under our Management Plan. This will reduce the canopy cover in the wood by around 30%. The contractors are aware of the public footpaths and will erect warning notices when forestry operations are taking place. The extraction route will lead to a stacking area adjoining the Ladies Mile (Nettleden Road). Unless conditions are very dry, there is bound to be some rutting where the timber is extracted.
We do have the ash disease known as Chalara ash dieback  (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) on the estate, which can make normally resilient ash branches go brittle and break in high winds. This as a secondary reason for undertaking the work now, due to the large number of rights of way within and approaching the wood.
Readers may recall that we replanted one of the compartments in Big Wood last year principally with Douglas Fir and some oak. Even with last year’s hot dry summer most of the trees survived. There has been considerable damage caused by deer playing with the tree guards. We are in the process of “beating-up” with transplants grown from seed in the kitchen garden at The Golden Parsonage.
It is possible that later this year we will be selling some mature oak, from Big Wood, for which there is a good demand at the moment.
We continue the programme of deer management as set out in our management plan. Up to now, we have been concentrating on two woods in Flamstead parish, but now are moving nearer the centre of the estate.
Our most precious resource is the soil. Much thought has gone into the best way of preserving and enhancing this to make it as healthy and long lasting as possible. To this end we ceased ploughing almost everywhere eighteen years ago, and moved to minimum tillage, known as “min-till”. This has a secondary advantage of releasing much less carbon into the atmosphere. We have investigated “no-till”, though this is only applicable to suitable soils, and unlikely to be practical here. Both methods are reliant on the herbicide Glyphosate, usually known as “Roundup”, about which there has been some controversy!
Winter crops have come through well, though the woodpigeons have attacked the oilseed rape badly in various places. Now, with the beautiful weather at the time of writing we are able to get on with the spreading of phosphate and potash fertiliser in solid form and liquid nitrogen. We grazed some of our Winter cover crops with a neighbour’s sheep and now all the cover crops are receiving a dose of glyphosate, preparatory for spring drilling. This year we have split the spring area between barley, hopefully for malting (Beer!), and linseed.
Other livestock news includes the lovely sight of spring lambs gambolling in the grassland at the Golden Parsonage, and cattle continue to graze Gaddesden Park.
Virtually all of the produce, wheat and oats, from 2018 harvest has now been sold and moved.
We have had a good go at hedge-cutting this winter, within our Environmental Stewardship parameters, as last year weather conditions precluded much work on the hedges. This operation has to finish by the end of February, in order not to disturb nesting birds.

Estate maintenance
One of the banes of our lives is water! Every winter we seem to have various winter water leaks. This year we had a particularly bad one at Whitehouse Farm.
We are as usual continuing the programme of redecoration and cottage maintenance, ensuring dwellings are up to EPC regulations, and seeing where we can make improvements, such as installing double glazed windows.
We are planning to re-build a wall at Gaddesden Place stables, which collapsed some years ago as well as possibly beginning a long programme of re-pointing the former kitchen garden wall. Our next major project will be the refurbishment of the Golden Lodge, which we hope to begin later this year.
We have been clearing redundant and long disused structures in the Home Farm yard such as old oil tanks, the rolled barley hopper (dating from the days of our “Barley Beef” unit) and the slurry ramp which was used to fill muck spreaders in the days of the dairy herd.

Horses and Ride
Due to the outbreak of Equine flu in February, we closed the ride for a few days, until racing resumed, well aware that several businesses on the estate were dependent on horses.
We are beginning our annual programme of Ride and jump repairs, which will take several weeks, as well as installing new fencing in some of the grazing paddocks.
The monthly “Park and Ride” events will take place as usual in the summer and the dates for these are on the “Equo” website.
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Gaddesden Estate News December 2018/January 2019
The winter crops have now been “put to bed”. The oilseed rape north of Gaddesden Row is looking strong and hopefully will go through the winter able to survive the depredations of wood pigeons. Both varieties of wheat were drilled in good conditions and they too look happy. Our ground “cover crop” of mixed cereals and clover in the field we call Long Robins, or just Robins, will probably go towards our Ecological focus Area, or EFA, which we are required to provide every year. This is normally one of the most productive fields as on the farm, as it is close to the Home Farm steading and for many generations, when we had cattle, always received copious quantities of FYM (farmyard manure, otherwise “muck”!).
We aim to sell, if not move all the remainder of the output from the 2018 harvest by Christmas. As I mentioned last month, the spring oats suffered from the weather conditions in the spring and summer; they yielded poorly and had a very low bushel weight. By passing the oats through our old pre-cleaner, with its reciprocating sieves, strung on flexible battens of ash wood, with its strong fan to remove dust and shrivelled grain, we hope to be able to gain a premium price, so “fingers crossed”!

Old Grain Store and Farmyard
The old grain store at the Home Farm was built, I believe, in 1957. It has not been used since the year 2000, and the internal structures of elevators, conveyors, dresser, walkways and gantries, as well as the grain reception pit had become unsafe. Over the past few weeks we have been removing the redundant equipment and structure and filling the pits and elevator sumps with hardcore, ready for concreting. We have taken down the old Rolled Barley Hopper, dating from the time of the Barley Beef unit, as well as the final redundant oil tank. This grain handing system featured in the 1977 BBC film “Harvest at Great Gaddesden”.

High Park Wood
Over the past few years many people will have read about the ash tree disease known as “Chalara” or ash dieback. One of the side effects is that the branches of mature trees lose the elasticity for which ash is renowned. This can mean that branches can break off. High Park Wood has considerable public access via the footpaths, so we are planning to go ahead with felling the older ash, probably in the early part of next year. We were granted a Felling Licence for this work by the Forestry Commission under our ten year management plan in 2012.
Most people will know that Great Gaddesden is a prime area for Hertfordshire Puddingstones, indeed there are some very large ones visible in the foundations of the church and in the churchyard. This conglomerate was formed in an earlier period of global warming, when the weathered pebbles from seaside beaches became cemented bur a silica matrix into a natural form of concrete. Puddingstone is principally found in Hertfordshire and the adjoining counties, and Normandy, although I have seen some rather dull examples in the Arnold Arboretum in Boston Massachusetts.  It is a very hard material and well suited to the production of querns, hand corn mills. Recent research has located several Roman or pre-Roman quarries for puddingstone and production areas for querns in the parish.

River improvements
Affinity Water, on behalf of the Environment Agency, are undertaking a project to restore chalk streams, a very important habitat, in Hertfordshire, including the River Gade. They have already completed work in Gadebridge Park. The basis of the work proposed here is to by-pass the sluice at Noke Mill to allow fish to swim upstream, probably including work to the bridge on Noke Mill Lane; removing some of the weirs between the lower bridge on the Leighton Buzzard Road and re-grading the Broad Water between the two Water End Bridges to return it to a chalk stream with enough flow to ensure  clean gravel bed.
Happy Christmas to one and all from those of us on the Gaddesden Estate!

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Gaddesden Estate News November 2018
The oilseed rape, a variety called “Extrovert” was drilled north of Gaddesden Row at Whitehouse and Upperwood Farms the week before the August Bank Holiday, as usual. It established well and has been enjoying the warm weather.  The crop came under attack from cabbage stem flea beetles immediately after planting, but it was strong enough to weather the storm.  Consequently it has had no insecticides applied to it, which is excellent news, and very little crop has been lost.  This pest has been very damaging to oilseed rape crops in recent years, particularly in the East of England, and so to get through the autumn without having to treat for it is a great relief.  
The winter wheat has now all been drilled, with two varieties, “Graham”, a Group 4 biscuit wheat around Hawbush Farm and JB Diego, known to be good as a 2nd cereal, after the oats on the Glennisters Block overlooking Gade Valley and the Highbush Block overlooking Water End. 
A dry September and generally kind conditions have meant that drilling (planting) has taken place later than in previous years.  With little rainfall, weed growth before planting has been minimal.  This is not necessarily a good thing, as the ideal scenario is to encourage the weeds to grow, and then kill them, prior to planting the crop.  In the end we took advantage of good conditions and went ahead to establish the wheat, having waited a good length of time and leaving the weediest fields till last to enable a better kill.  Leave it too late and the wheat plants do not have enough time to make use of the autumn sunshine, which leads to a yield penalty come harvest.  
Hedge cutting has begun, but so far only on the internal sides of the fields due for drilling, when access is possible. As I have mentioned before, hedge cutting is done on a two or three year rotation, among other things to save the wild berries for the birds.

Estate management
We have had three cottages vacant and needing refurbishment. 20 The Park is now let and we welcome new occupant.  54 Bridens Camp is still available, though currently viewing, and the Golden Lodge needs major refurbishment before available to let. We continue the programme of installing double glazed windows, as well as dealing with regular items such as boiler servicing, replacement oil tanks and other maintenance.

Grazing and stables
We welcome new grazing occupants at Mill Hill and Marsh Farms.  Three paddocks have recently  been fenced with the new fencing we used at Whitehouse last year, with galvanised steel posts and electrified top wire.  These posts are guaranteed for 30 years, which is a significant improvement over the length of time that timber posts seem to last in our wet clay soil.  It is interesting to note that some of the Victorian cast iron gate posts around the estate are still perfectly sound more than a century later, so we hope the investment in their modern equivalent will stand us in good stead for many years to come! 
The Estate Ride continues to be popular, even through the very had going this past summer. We are planning a major survey of the jumps this winter and consequent repairs and improvement. The monthly Park & Rides this summer were much enjoyed and we hope to run these again next year. The Charity Ride at the end of September was well attended and raised £2,000 for the Gaddesden Place Group of the Riding for the Disabled.
Most of the trees we planted in Big Wood last winter, mostly Douglas Fir with a sprinkling of Oak, thankfully survived the summer drought, though we still have some to replace from our small stock we grew from seed. This operation is known by foresters by the arcane expression “beating up”, which has no implication of violence! I believe it to come from mediaeval English.
Deer have done damage to the tree guards and our management of the population continues.

John Massey
Many readers will remember John Massey who managed the Home Farm from 1964 until 1989, who sadly died recently. He undertook a major overhaul of the farm introducing modern methods and establishing the Oakengrove Herd of Pedigree British Friesian cows. He won a Nuffield Scholarship which enabled him to travel to America and Australia studying aspects of agriculture. He also served on the Parish Council and Dacorum Council.
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​Gaddesden Estate News September 2018
What a strange season this has been; we had a very cold, late spring, followed by the “Beast from the East” and then suddenly we went into one of the hottest and driest summers that many people can remember.
We cut the oilseed rape at Hawbush Farm on 24th and 25th July.

Then back to the weather! Thankfully for most people and all gardeners the weather at last broke in August. We got back to harvesting the biscuit wheat variety “Barrell”, on Whitehouse and Upperwood Farms, around 4th  August, but the wet weather following it has meant that we didn’t begin cutting the feed wheat “JB Diego” until 19th August and finished on 21st.

Even so this is still timely, though the crop has stood in the field for several weeks ready for harvest. We can thank heaven that we did not suffer any devastating hail or thunderstorms, and we are now on track for a normal year, where we begin cereal harvest in the middle of the month.

The oilseed rape yield was down to 3 tonnes/hectare (about 24 cwt/acre). Our old pre-cleaner came into its own, enabling us to send a good clean sample to the crushers. The seeds were small, but the oil content was high, compensating somewhat for the lower production.

The Barrell wheat yielded under 9 t/ha, slightly disappointing, though we were pleased that the Diego came off at around 10 t/ha (80 cwt/ac). However, while wheat prices remain buoyant, and though yield is often said to be the critical factor, one is always pleased with a good price!

The final crop to be harvested will be the oats, though this crop is unlikely to make the deadline for the September Newsletter. Due to the relatively high moisture content of the Diego wheat, some time will have to be spent bucketing dry wheat from a drying store to the buffer store No 4, to make room for the oats.

Other work continues during harvest time, on days we cannot cut. Fencing work is in progress on some of the horse paddocks at Bridens Camp and Mill Hill Farm and in due course at Marsh Farm, ready for new clients.
We are in the process of sowing “cover crops” on the land designated for 2019 spring cropping, so the ground is not bare throughout the winter, and by the time you read this we should have drilled and rolled next year’s oilseed rape north of Gaddesden Row.

Our old grain store was last used in the year 2000 and we have at last been working on the removal of the redundant elevators and conveyors, as well as the tip-weigh and dresser, which we should be able to sell. We also demolished the rusty old rolled barley hopper, which dates from our long defunct Barley Beef Unit, which ceased in the 1980s.
Using our farm contractors tracked excavator, we have graded and cambered the farm drives, and a bonus of the hot sun has, we hope, hardened the surface, so that we can reduce our perennial pothole problems.

There is little to report, other than that the majority of the trees we planted in Big Wood in the early spring seem to have survived the drought. We will be able to see better in the winter, when most of the annual vegetation will have died down.

Unusually we will have three residential properties, in different parts of the estate, becoming available over the next few weeks. They all need a certain amount of refurbishment and where appropriate work to comply with the Energy Performance Certificates (EPC). Please contact the Estate Office with any expressions of interest.

Carpenters’ Shop
It is a very long time since the late Alan Lowdon, our last estate carpenter, retired. The Victorian carpenters’ shop in the former Timber Yard was used as a mess room and farm meeting room for many years and then by the shoot as a lunch room. We discovered problems with the valley gutters and so we have re-roofed the building so that it can have a useful future.

Following our Big Pick-Up earlier this year it is disappointing to see our country lanes, particularly Red Lion Lane again littered with cans, plastic bottles, fast food packets &c!

Park and Ride
We sadly had to cancel the July Park and Ride, due to the very hard going, but August’s is still in place, and of course we hope for a good turn out for the September Charity Ride on 30th.

Many of you will remember Derek Christopher, who founded not only our summer Park & Rides but the Ride itself. It seemed fitting to organise a Ride-related award in his memory. As such we are offering a prize for the most sponsorship raised for the RDA (Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled Centre (Regd Charity no. 1140330)) by a rider taking part in this September event.  We are asking participants to consider getting extra sponsorship with the aim of doubling what is currently donated to the RDA. Fancy dress is optional (though we'll also have a little something for the best-dressed rider).

If you would like to take part in the Charity Ride, bookings as usual through Equo

The September Charity Ride raises much needed funds for the Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled and the British Horse Society who very kindly help run our Park and Ride days throughout the year.  If you would like to donate or volunteer for either of these good causes, please visit their websites for further details, and
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Gaddesden Estate News July/August 2018
Tough Mudder
As many will know, Tough Mudder Ltd will be holding their inaugural London North Event on the estate on the weekend of 7th and 8th July.

Those who have been following the planning application process will know that Tough Mudder’s original application was withdrawn and their subsequent application is still under review.  For this year, the event and course have been revised such that planning permission is no longer necessary.  

We expect it to be a busy weekend in and around the parish but are confident that measures are in place to minimise any disruption to local residents.  All public footpaths and bridleways will be open as always, and we are sure there will be some interesting things to see for those who happen to be passing!

There is more information contained in the separate notice in this magazine, together with contact details ([email protected]) to answer any queries that may arise. 
All the crops are looking reasonable at present, though we shall soon need some rain. The wheat is just finishing flowering and the late sown spring oats are looking remarkably happy. The stems of the oilseed rape are rather short, probably stunted by a combination of the infamous “Beast from the East” and very heavy pigeon pressure. We continue to battle with various grass weeds, in particular black-grass, which is very difficult to control. Walkers on the footpaths may have noticed that, as in former years, we have sprayed off patches of wheat to kill bad patches of black-grass infestation. We calculate that the loss of crop is of less moment than the risk of the weed spreading.

In a few weeks we will be hosting the annual farm walk organised by the Redbourn and District Agricultural Competitions Association, the same group who run the annual Ploughing Match in September and the Hay, Root and Corn show. This involves a tractor and trailer ride around the farm and ends with a barbecue or hog-roast.

The farm walk always precedes harvest which is the next big thing on the farmers’ horizon. By the time I sit down to write the next news from the estate, the rape will have been combined and sold, hopefully all the wheat will have been cut too and maybe the oats as well. If we decide to grow rape again, this will hopefully have been drilled by the third week in August. 
Residential Properties and Commercial Units
Annual maintenance and minor improvements continue as usual on the houses and cottages. Mill Hill Farm Cottage has been completely refurbished and the traditional farm buildings stabilised.  All dwellings are now occupied, with one exception prior to another extensive refurbishment.

The office units are now either fully let or with leases in the process of completion. We are pleased to welcome to the Home Farm and Whitehouse Farm Business Centres: 168 Security, Quorn Stone, B 360 Ltd and Building Services Management Ltd.

Gaddesden Estate Ride and “Park and Ride” Events.
Membership of the Ride renews in June and applications come into the Farm Office on several days a week. We did not have a “Park and Ride” in June, due to other estate commitments, and the next two will be held on Sundays 29th July and 26th August. The Charity Ride takes place on the last Sunday of September, 30th, to conclude the season. As usual applications are made through the Equo Website

Derek Christopher
It is with great sadness that we record the passing of Derek Christopher in his eighty ninth year. He had been involved with the estate for nearly fifty years in many roles, but principally as Manager of the Upperwood Farm Stud, the concept of which he initiated and then developed laying the foundation to the thriving business it is today. He managed all the horse enterprises on the estate, as well as being involved with estate management and farming matters. His memorial service at Great Gaddesden Church was packed as was the Party, as he called it, afterwards at the Bridgewater Arms. We all miss him.
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Gaddesden Estate News May 2018
This past week has been a mad rush to get several weeks of spring work completed, concertina-ed into three or four days. The winter was so long and spring so late that we were not able to get onto the saturated land until the lovely spell of sunshine last week; it was what is known as a “blackthorn summer”, with the white flowers of the blackthorn bushes in the hedgerows blossoming at their best around the farm.

We had about 250 acres of spring oats to drill. Some could be drilled directly into last years stubbles, but on the top of the hills, particularly in the fields behind Bridens Camp, called Hoghstrough and Highbush/Farthings where the ground is very heavy, the ground needed to be cultivated and rolled before we could get the seed drill in. In some places, most noticeably Long Garmer Field, the weeds had grown strongly over the winter among the “volunteer” wheat (seed left over from last year, dropped in the chaff by the combine harvester) and these areas had to be sprayed with glyphosate before drilling. Thankfully all the seed was sown before St George’s day. It is at least a fortnight later than  the latest recommended drilling date, so let us pray that the crop germinates well and catches up, even though it may be a late harvest with reduced bushel weights.

In addition, concurrently it was imperative to put a second dose of nitrogen fertiliser on the wheat and the oilseed rape as well as the next fungicide programme for both, in this case using the same machine, the Bateman sprayer.
The winter cropping has already responded well to this treatment.
Our next task is the application of Muriate of Potash (potassium chloride) using a conventional fertiliser spinner.
We completed planting up sub-Compartment 7k in Big Wood, as reported last month. We have no thinning or felling planned for this year, though we will be continuing with our roadside tree surgery. The sawlogs from last year’s wind-blow in Newlands Wood are at last due to be collected this week.
We await with trepidation the attacks by grey squirrels on the trees in the Farm Woodland Scheme blocks, which were thinned over the past couple of years; these often seem to come after a thinning. It may be because the enhanced growth of the remaining trees produces more sugar in the sap. As I have mentioned previously the American Grey Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis, can completely devastate a plantation, making the production of high quality timber well-nigh impossible, and rendering the trees only suitable for firewood or chipwood.

Current research on grey squirrel control measures includes the introduction of the native Pine Marten, which predates on grey squirrels, and the production of an oral fertility control vaccine, which it is hoped may be ready by 2021. As greys carry the squirrel pox virus, the re-introduction of the native Red Squirrel would not be successful here, though reds survive in the north of England, the Isle of Wight and Scotland.

The Great British Spring Clean
On 22nd April about thirty people joined for a cup of tea or coffee at the Home Farm before setting out to clean up the roadsides in our parish. Rubbish was collected in many areas including Red Lion Lane, Water End, Gaddesden Row and Ledgemore Lane. Dacorum Borough Council kindly provided sacks for re-cyclable and non-re-cyclable rubbish, litter picking grabs and fluorescent tabards, all organised by Sharon Row. At the time of writing not all the bags have been brought in, but currently there are over sixty bags awaiting collection by the council. Thank you, and well done to everybody who gave up their Saturday to take part.

Park and Ride
The first of this year’s Park and Ride events takes place on Sunday 29th April. Entry as usual is through the Equo website.
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Gaddesden Estate News April 2018
As I write this we thought that we were past the spell of snow, frosts and winds called the “Beast from the East” and enjoying some spring weather, before the new blast came this week end.

Mainly due, I believe, to the cold weather on the continent, we have had large flocks of wood pigeons attacking the oilseed rape, particularly the fields near Hawbush Farm called Upper Longcroft.  To try to mitigate the damage we have put out several gas “guns”, which imitate the firing of a shotgun at random times, and scarecrows. In the meantime, pigeon shooters have been out reducing numbers and moving the pigeons on, as well as shooting for the pot.
The few dry days we have had have been useful to enable us to apply liquid nitrogen fertiliser to boost the growth of the rape, to get it to grow away from the pigeons.
The next jobs on the arable side will be to apply nitrogen to the wheat, which is generally looking jolly good all round the farm, and to drill (sow) the spring oats in the Highbush/Farthings area behind Bridens Camp and the Glennisters block on Marsh Farm, behind the Village Hall.

We are going to be growing a large area of spring sown oats this year, about double the area of last year, and are hoping to produce about 600 tonnes in total.  Last year’s crop was sent to be milled into porridge and other oat products by a miller in Crewe, and we’re aiming for the porridge market again this year. 
One thing we are doing differently is that we are experimenting with planting rows of white clover in between the rows of oats this year.  The theory behind this (and it is only theory at this point) is that the clover will help the oats by fixing nitrogen in the soil, will suppress weeds to the extent that hopefully no selective herbicides will be required, will add carbon and organic material to the soil and will also benefit the following wheat crop, which will be planted in the autumn straight into the clover, once the oats have been harvested.  The mechanics of this have required a fair bit of tinkering in the workshop as the rows of clover seeds have to be planted on top of the soil and lightly scratched, whilst the oats are drilled deeper in.  Hopefully we’re nearly there, and so the one machine will be planting both oat and clover seeds at different depths and adding some starter fertiliser to the oats all at the same time.  Time will tell if we are successful!  
We have had a clear out of “tackle” disposing of various redundant pieces of machinery, including our old hedgecutter, which have hung over since the days we had livestock. There is often a problem on most farms, as one is tempted to hang onto things in case “they might come in useful”!

The firewood from the thinnings of the Farm Woodland Scheme areas has now been shifted by the merchant, and we are still awaiting collection of the sawlogs from Newlands Wood. We are currently in the middle of planting up the storm damaged area of Big Wood at Bridens Camp, three quarters with Douglas Fir, but with blocks of English Oak amongst it, as well as some other species to make a mixture. The area is quite rough and wet; before the parish Tithe Map of 1836 it comprised two small arable fields called Hither and Further Moulders. The trees have to be protected from pests including rabbits and deer, so are guarded with 1.5 meter plastic netting tubes, and each surrounded by a bio-degradable mulch mat, to suppress weeds and retain moisture.
We continue our efforts to control grey squirrels, which can cause devastating damage to broadleaved trees, in particular beech, oak and sycamore. Because the use of Warfarin rodenticide, formerly recommended by the Forestry Commission, has been banned from woodland by the EU, we have to rely on shooting; trapping is possible but very labour intensive.
Deer also do considerable damage to young trees This can be by browsing off natural regeneration, thus preventing young seedlings from growing into saplings on their way to becoming trees. Male deer, bucks, grow new antlers each year and at first, they are covered by a thin fleshy layer called “velvet” which provides a blood supply to the growing antlers. When the antlers are fully grown, the bucks need to get rid of the “velvet” and they do this by thrashing their antlers on the stems of young trees, frequently removing all the bark thus destroying the conduit of nutrients from the soil, and so either killing or preventing the trees from growing into timber.
Of the two main species of deer here, Fallow Deer may only be shot during restricted seasons for bucks and does, while Reeves’s Muntjac, which breed throughout the year can be shot at any time, though mainly before the summer foliage grows in the woods. We have also very occasionally seen Roe Deer and Chinese Water Deer.

Estate Management
Until the weather improves and we are able to get on with external redecoration and continue our programme of upgrading windows in order to improve the ratings under Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), our principal project has been to refurbish Mill Hill Farm Cottage. As this stands on a very windy hill top, above Highbush/Farthings field we wonder whether there was ever a windmill on the site, though we have so far been able to find no record of one. It could of course have been so named just because it is on the hill above Noake Mill at Water End! The former lane to Mill Hill was recorded as either “Mill Hill Lane” or “Farthynghill Lane”. Incidentally the name “Farthings”, which has dropped out of use, normally indicates that the field was in mediaeval times divided into strips as part of the parish “open filed system of cultivation, as we know the parkland below Gaddesden Place once was.

Commercial Property
Unit 1 at the Home Farm Business Centre is available to let, please contact the Estate Office 01442 252421 [email protected] . This is a unit of approximately 530 sq. Ft. and is ready for occupation, having just had a new kitchenette fitted. As with changes of occupation to residential property, from time to time there is a turnover as occupants’ business conditions fluctuate. We are very pleased to welcome Quorn Stone to Unit 6 in the Oakengrove Yard at the Home Farm.

Estate Ride and Horse Paddocks
The ride has been used occasionally by hardy riders who have ventured out in the winter, and soon the time will come for the jumps to be re-furbished for the summer and the ground harrowed and rolled. The same applies to the let grazing where we are also continuing our programme of new fencing. The monthly Park And Rides begin in 29th April and as usual entry is through the Equo website: .

The Gaddesden Estate’s new Website
Finally, as the result of several months’ work we now have a splendid new website; do have a look at this:
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Gaddesden Estate News February 2018
With the snow in December and with wet conditions since we have not been able to get out onto the ground, but fortunately there is little to do in the fields until the spring work comes around. Even the normally hard tracks are soft or breaking up, so much so that a timber lorry got stuck in January and couldn’t collect its load!

With the short hours of daylight, most of the time has been concentrated around the yard. Lorries come to collect wheat and oats (which are going to Mornflake Foods in Crewe to make porridge; in the past the other main market has been for high quality feed for Newmarket racehorses). This year we will be growing spring oats again.

These commodities are of course from last summer’s harvest. These lorries are rather like London busses, all is quiet then two or three turn up at once needing to be loaded, ready to go off to the mills.

The other big event has been our annual inspection for the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme. This enables all our produce to be certified under the “Red Tractor” label. I am pleased to say that we passed this with the Home Farm being approved as “ship shape and Bristol fashion”! This not only involves making sure everything complies with the scheme requirements, but also involves a great deal of office work over the year, so we can provide a “Paper trail” for all the inputs on the farm, fertilisers and sprays, what supplier they came from, on which field where they used and at what rate and in what conditions. 

As part of a drive for better efficiency across the farm we decided to sell our hedge-cutter and to contract out all our hedge-cutting; most of the roadside hedges have been very beautifully trimmed, though the ground is too wet to cut most of the internal hedges. As mentioned in previous years, hedges - other than on roadsides - are cut in rotation, in accordance with our Higher Level Environmental Stewardship Scheme (HLS). Hedges are trimmed during the winter months, and as far as possible after the birds have had most of the berries. By trimming on rotation some of the hedges are left to fruit for longer. This also enables biennial plants to flourish.

 Paddock Fencing
Last year we re-fenced one paddock with a new metal fencing system, which is proved to be much more satisfactory than the conventional post and wire fences, so we intend to expand this system around the Home Farm.

Gaddesden Estate Ride and monthly “Park & Rides”
The inclement winter weather has meant that the ride has been used much less than usual, which has prevented the need to close it due to ground conditions.  We will again be holding our very popular “Park & Ride” events on the last Sunday of the summer months (though not in June as we have another event on the estate).

Before Christmas we were visited by a production company who used one of our buildings to make a documentary film about the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and two people who survived that awful camp came here to participate.

Water End Meadows and Gaddesden Estate Ride
For legal reasons we close the access to the Water End Meadows along the River Gade between Water End and Great Gaddesden for 36 hours every year. This year the closure will be between 6pm on 12th and 6 am on 14th March. This does not apply to public rights of way. For similar reasons the Ride will be closed over the same period. There is a notice about this, elsewhere in the Newsletter.

We currently have two office units of 586 and 516 square feet available to let at the Home Farm Business Centre. If you are interested, please apply to [email protected] or ring 01442252421 .

Otherwise on the property front we are repairing gutters and tiles and slates which were damaged in the recent gales, we are making plans for routine summer maintenance. 

The government has announced new support for forestry within 35 miles of the HS2 corridor and we are looking into the proposals to see if there is anything that might apply to the woodlands here. In the meantime, we are planning to re-plant a block of Big Wood which had bad wind damage a few years ago.



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Tough Mudder 2018 at the Gaddesden Estate
In July 2018 the Gaddesden Estate will be hosting Tough Mudder. the extreme obstacle course, for the first time.

‘Tough Mudder London North’ will be a brand new course, ‘featuring the unmistakable combination of classic obstacles, innovative challenges and mud’.

The 10-mile route (a half-distance course is also available) will run entirely off-road around the estate and feature 20+ obstacles.

For more information and to book tickets visit:
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Gaddesden Estate News - December 2017/January 2018
All the autumn work on the Home Farm has now been completed. We have two areas left for spring cropping, the area around Glennisters field overlooking Gade Valley and the Highbush/Farthings block overlooking the “Red Lion”. We have not yet made a decision about what to plant. The Spring Oats did well for us in the 2017 harvest so some of the area will probably go down to oats.

Brexit and farming
Agriculture will be dramatically affected by withdrawal from the Common Agricultural Policy, the “CAP”. As yet we do not know what new policies will come into force to replace those from Europe, nor exactly when they will be implemented, though our own long-term goals already include continually seeking ways to improve efficiency in the production, while  prioritising long-term sustainability. Among other things, this means experimenting with techniques such as no-till, a low-impact sowing method which both reduces diesel consumption and helps preserve soil health.  The last change as momentous as this, apart from our entry into the then Common Market, was the Agriculture Act 1947, and while it might present some exciting and much-needed changes, we must hope that the UK industry remains healthy enough to maintain its position as a global leader in terms of quality of produce together with environmental stewardship. In a worst-case scenario, if the UK cannot feed itself, then we are not only at the mercy of external market forces, which will dictate prices, but we lose control over how our food is produced.

A few years ago we had strong winds in the winter following some thinning of a 1970 plantation, Compartment 7k in Big Wood. About 1 ½ acres was damaged with some trees being completely blown over and some snapped off at about 8 feet. Thanks to Peter Hall and his machinery we have been able to clear the site of broken tree trunks and stumps and plan in early spring to re-plant. This is not classified as “Ancient Woodland” as it was farmland until the early 19th Century. We are planning to experiment with a number of species, predominantly conifers which are recommended as being resilient to climate change. The mixture will certainly include Douglas Fir with probably some Coast Redwood, Western Hemlock and Western Red Cedar.

Internet and website
Over the past few months we have been busy in the Estate Office upgrading our IT, which involves not only improving our operating system and email but also completely rewriting our website, commissioning new photographs, and making it tablet and telephone compatible.  All being well we hope to go live in the new year (

We have had a few small events this year, the most recent being an autumn foraging day, run by a firm called “Woodland Ways”. We hosted two days this year, one in spring and one in autumn, and both proved very popular, with participants being introduced to edible (and poisonous!) plants and fungi. They are shown how to make a camp fire and then cook what they have foraged. Dates for 2018 will be announced on Facebook in due course.

The Cloth of Gold Archery club continue to hold their field archery events in Stable Wood

Many will have noticed the high-vis film direction signs around the parish which sprout up from time to time. They show that we have had a busy season with various aspects of the film industry. Gaddesden Place has been a popular location since the 1960s. In recent years the Unit Base for films there has been based on the estate, usually in the Home Farm yard. Filming around the estate has taken place as well, including “The Child in Time” with Benedict Cumberbatch. Two major productions are going out on the BBC and Amazon next year.
Kath Grayson

We sadly have to report that Kath Grayson of Mill Hill Farm passed away in late September. Kath was Irish and had lived with her late husband, Mike, at Mill Hill for 30 years or so, from where they ran the “Loch Creran” Clydesdale working horses. They participated with great success in many shows, including the Royal Show and the Dacorum Steam Fair, horse drawn ploughing competitions and in conjunction with Nick Sutton used these great horses for forestry work.

Residential Property
We continue the regular round of repairs and maintenance and have welcomed several new families to live on the estate over the past few months.

Commercial Property
Since I last reported new businesses joining the estate have included Tandem Creative, a TV Film and Video production company, Shire Homecare Services and Design Corse, a specialised motor cycle parts business.

Estate Ride
Chantal McDouall has joined us to help with our various horse enterprises, the livery yard, grazing paddocks Gaddesden estate Ride and “Park and Rides”.

The Ride itself goes from strength to strength. Lots of people, horses and ponies took part in the monthly Park and Ride Events, in association with the British Horse Society, as well as becoming regular members of the ride. The Charity Ride in September raised £2,000 for the Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled Association, and £500 for the BHS. The RDA held their own ride the same day for which Bruce Claridge raised another £2,000.

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Ride Membership: Discounts Available for Winter Joiners
The Gaddesden Estate Ride follows an 8 mile route through this very special part of the Chilterns' Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Primarily off-road, the route features 30 optional jumps, including two jump complexes, with fences suitable for both novices and more confident riders.

Annual ride membership, which runs from 1st June, starts at £90 per rider, and allows access throughout the year*. However we also offer discounts to members joining late in the season, with a sliding price scale depending on the time of year.

To find out more, and for a Ride membership form, visit our Ride webpage, or email [email protected]

*The Ride is closed on Saturdays throughout the shooting season, and occasionally on other dates throughout the year.
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Park & Ride Events - Booking Now Open for 2018
Booking is now live for our 2018 Park & Ride events. With many of our popular early slots filling up well before the closing deadline last year early booking for this summer is recommended!

The dates for 2018 are:
29th April
27th May
29th July
26th August
30th September (special charity day with all proceeds going to the Riding for the Disabled

Please note that there will be no event in June due to preparations for the Tough Mudder event which takes place on 7/8 July.

Following the route of the Gaddesden Estate Ride, our Park & Ride days provide the chance to take in an 8-mile, primarily off-road circuit through this unspoilt corner of the Chiltern hills. The route includes 30 optional jumps suitable for experts and novices alike, including two jump complexes.

Refreshments, a loo and running water are available on the day.

Tickets are £20 per horse and rider (£25 for our special charity day in September). To book, and for full details of the day, visit Equo Events (
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Gaddesden Estate News October 2017
Charity Ride
The Charity Ride, mainly in aid of the Gaddesden Place Riding For The Disabled Group will have taken place on the last Sunday in September, as it has for the past few years. At the time of writing we are expecting 105 riders to complete the course of about 10 miles, mostly on the Estate, though this number is likely to increase.

Harvest 2017
I mentioned the Hagberg test for milling wheat in last month’s newsletter. Crops have to go through a number of tests in order to meet specification.
Another important test is “Bushel weight”, properly known as “Specific weight”, measured in kilograms per hectolitre. The young and sprightly will of course remember what a bushel is, other than something to not hide your light under! A UK bushel, still used as a measure of grain volume in America (see below), is a measure equal to eight Imperial Gallons. (A US Bushel is slightly smaller as it is worked back to a US pint of 16 UK Fluid Ounces, rather than the UK 20 Fl. Oz.)
Grain has been sold by weight, ton before the EU and tonne now, in the UK for all my working life.   Different grades of wheat will have different criteria that must be met, but generally speaking the higher the weight for a given volume, the Bushel Weight, the more valuable the crop.
The bushel, in which grain is traded on commodity markets and for production reports, is now a unit of weight. This is done by assigning a standard weight to each commodity that is to be measured in bushels. These bushels depend on the commodities being measured, and on the moisture content of the commodity.

Harvest 2018
All the 2017 Rape ground has been cultivated with three passes of tackle, except where we have run over the areas of black-grass with our new Cambridge rolls; these are fitted with “paddles” which can be used to break clods and uproot the black-grass seedlings. The Oat and fallow land at Whitehouse Farm and Upper Wood has received a similar treatment, without the rolling.  The Oilseed rape for harvest 2018 was planted in the middle of August.  Where it has established it looks to be flourishing, but in other areas it has had very high pressure from slugs, particularly at its earliest stages, and decisions on what to do with failed areas need to be taken imminently.  The pressure from Cabbage-stem Flea-beetle, which is can be another devastating pest particularly in Hertfordshire and East Anglia has been low this year, and we have not had to use any insecticides.
Some of the ground which will be used for a Spring crop next year which has been deep cultivated to aid drainage.  In the past there was much more of a need for this when every field was ploughed and compacted layers called pans developed below the ploughing.  It is an expensive process and is now done only in specific situations.   In Highbush/Farthings Field we have sown a “cover crop” of vetch, which will be destroyed in due course before another crop is grown. The remainder of the ground will have a pass with a light disc / press combination to assist with the breakdown of residues from this harvest.  Drilling the winter Wheat on the remainder of the farm will soon be upon us.
Before we can apply any more sprays we will be changing the wheels on the sprayer to wider wheels with low ground-pressure tyres. This avoids compacting the seed-bed.

Hedge cutting and fencing
Hedge cutting has begun, as the rules permit from the beginning of September. First of all we have been tackling the paddocks at Whitehouse Farm, where we are investing in some new high-tensile fencing, in the hope that we can avoid the regular damage to fences that horses seem to do! Hedge-cutting continues throughout the winter months.

Woodland work is on-hold at the moment, though we plan to do some planting in Big Wood later in the season, with Douglas Fire that we have grown from seed in the greenhouse.

Gaddesden Estate Ride
The Charity Ride sees the conclusion of the 2017 series of monthly “Park & Ride” events which we have held over the summer and we hope to continue next year.

We have welcomed several new occupants to residential properties, as well as new business tenants at the Home Farm and Whitehouse Business Centres. External redecoration continues, the estate office having just been completed.

We have had a busy period providing both film locations and Unit Bases over the past few months. This included being called out at week-ends and in the middle of the night to take a tractor to pull out several lorries which had become stuck!

Tough Mudders
We have reached an agreement with “Tough Mudder”  to hold an event over the week-end of 7th-8th July 2018. Estate residents and households local to the estate will receive a letter explaining about this event, which will inevitably cause an increase in traffic over that week-end and a certain amount of inconvenience to people in the area, though of course everybody is welcome to apply to take part!

Rights of Way Hearing
We were very pleased that following the hearing in public at the Village Hall on 4th July, the Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State refused to endorse the Order upgrading the rights of way at Briden’s Camp.
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