In the heart of Monmouthshire lies Old Lands, a progressive estate run by three generations of the Bosanquet family. Read about its history, sustainability, and how it aims to continue inspiring the younger generations to explore the outdoors for years to come.
Old Lands is an old family estate in Monmouthshire run on traditionally green principles – slow to change and careful of consequences – that has been in the Bosanquet family for 200 years. Three generations now live and work in and around the estate. While we have no intention of winding back the clock, our family comes from a long line of ecologists and naturalists whose experience taught them that, in the natural world, slow is beautiful. The main house, a handsome building in red marly sandstone, was much altered by the Victorian generation who made money in banking. The house was built to provide for a large family and staff – making change inevitable.
The pattern for modernisation was set by a frugal post war generation who separated the two wings from the main house for other families to live in, and kept the house and estate in good repair. They installed solar water-heating in the 70’s, planted a walled garden to keep the household self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit, kept bees to pollinate the orchard and make honey, and had chickens to recycle leftovers and lay eggs.
Responsibility for the estate and its future is now passing to a new generation, at a time of hard choices and decisions as to how an estate should exist in this century. We are neither able nor willing to manage the estate as a profit-maximising enterprise. The lands have to produce enough to pay the costs of management and provide a living for those engaged in what we see as partnership rather than as a landlord and tenant. Land has been taken on by the Gwent Wildlife Trust and is being managed so that it reverts to flower-rich meadows and biodiversity can flourish.
The holiday cottages and small honesty shop produce an income that enables the estate to support the conservation and biodiversity work onsite. Those staying can join nature walks with Sam Bosanquet, (the present custodian), who is an ecologist with a specialism in moss and deep love of moths. It was in those lost hours of childhood spent observing and identifying the natural world that he honed his skills. We actively encourage those who come to stay, particularly the children, to do the same. Over the last 25 years Sam has recorded over 3000 different species here.
Our aim is to ensure that future generations benefit from our own good husbandry – just as we at Old Lands have benefited from the careful stewardship of previous generations – by slowing down the way we farm, restoring and nurturing the land and its inhabitants, and looking for ways to put back more than we take out.
Sam runs free walks & talks in the early summer. Looking at grassland restoration, the contrast between mowing and grazing regimes, siting of tree planting and the implications of air pollution on grassland management. To book a free ticket please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographs & Words by Clare Bosanquet | @oldlands