Estate Farming Activities
Farming is at the heart of Burghley’s commercial activities with over 20 tenanted farms on the Estate, many of which have been farmed by the same families for generations.
In addition to the tenanted holdings, George Farm, the largest and closest to the house, is farmed in hand with Velcourt, undertaking the day to day management of the business. George Farm comprises 555 hectares and enjoys the association with Burghley whilst it operates as a separate trading business. The Estate’s farming ethos focuses on the delicate balance between ensuring that Burghley’s countryside management meets the needs of modern agricultural production whilst retaining its unique historical character and landscape.
The land immediately surrounding the House is managed by a team of dedicated foresters who focus on the Park and the land immediately surrounding the House. Burghley also retains the services of specialist local contractors, skilled in hedge cutting, hedge laying, drystone walling, tree planting, tree felling, tree surgery and fencing.
On the wider Estate, this is achieved by a partnership with tenant farmers. Sporting within the Park is enjoyed by the family living in Burghley House who offer a small number of commercial days. The day to day management of the shoot is run by the Estate’s dedicated gamekeeper.
The rights to sporting activity are an essential part of Burghley Estate, and with this comes a huge amount of hard work necessary to make the season a success. As the shooting season ends in January there is little time for rest and work begins in earnest to make the next season even better come October.
The Work of a gamekeeper
The campaign against vermin is high on the priority list along with plans for habitat, in the form of hedge and tree planting.
Release pens require mending in readiness for the pheasant poults (young birds) and partridges and all the shooting equipment that has been used needs to be cleaned and stored.
In mid July the first of the pheasant poults and day old partridges start to arrive. Their feeding and watering take up most of the morning. The partridge chicks need to be checked 4-6 times a day.
As October approaches all the drives have to be pegged out to mark where the guns stand, shoot vehicles serviced and cleaned and everybody advised of when shooting will take place.
Shoot days are meticulously planned, beaters and pickers-up have to be organised, drives chosen and food prepared in preparation for the guests’ arrival.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Burghley Horse Trials in 2011, an idea was put forward to establish a new long lasting feature jump that involved the Capability Brown Lake encompassing the views of the House and Gardens behind it. A jump on the Western end of the Lake in sight of the Lion Bridge was proposed
Research into the necessary conditions of the lake was undertaken whilst assessment was carried out to identify what species would be disturbed by the works.
Burghley is home to one of the foremost sites of the Native White Clawed Crayfish and in order to isolate and protect the native crayfish (highly protected under various wildlife acts) a solution was found to use “Aqua Dams” from America. Looking like large inflatable sausages the dams were laid from one side of the lake to the island and the water pumped out. Crayfish were then handpicked, measured, weighed and tagged before being placed back into their natural habitat in the lake. Having seen to all the necessary precautions surrounding the crayfish, construction of the underwater causeway could then commence.
The legacy of this truly spectacular jump designed by Captain Mark Philips in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the BHT will remain for years to come as a great addition to this already famous cross country course.
Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS)
The Grade II Listed Parkland and nuggets of the surrounding Estate have recently been entered into a Higher Level Stewardship scheme, funded by Natural England. This is an exciting 10 year project that aims to deliver significant environmental benefits in priority areas.
It involves complex environmental management requiring support and advice from advisors who have help us in partnership with Natural England to develop a comprehensive agreement that achieves a wide range of environmental benefits over a longer period of time. HLS agreements last for ten years.