EAST OF ENGLAND agent Brown & Co is about to light up the Lincs market with an unusually large early winter offering.
Barrington House Farm at Holbeach, near Spalding, has a good proportion of Grade 1 silts and the firm’s Tom White has decided that the paucity of this year’s market, and outstanding demand for commercial farms, makes it worth a pre-Christmas launch.
He says the story of the 1845-acre holding, which has been in the same family for six generations, can be held up as a reflection of the history of British agriculture over the past two centuries.
It started in 1780 when John Pennington walked from Retford, Nottinghamshire, to Holbeach, arriving with just a shilling in his pocket. His descendents, over the six generations that have farmed the land since then, have prospered at times but also clung tenaciously to their land during two major depressions.
The Penningtons became one of South Lincs leading farming families, even surviving the eviction of George Caudwell Pennington in 1883 at the height of the 1879-1907 depression for non-payment of mortgage interest. “Fortunately,” said Mr White, “the mortgagees subsequently invited him to retake the land, having failed to find either a buyer or tenant.”
It was such a salutary experience for the family that the next two generations, Fred and George Pennington – both well known and highly respected in the area – kept well away from their bank manager during a period of significant expansion of the farm in the last century.
Barrington House Farm’s mostly first class Grade 1 silt soils include land let to premium retailers for brassicas, potatoes and horticultural crops. The more-bodied Grade 2 soils support heavy-yielding crops of sugar beet, cereals, oilseeds and pulses.
Because of strong equestrian interest in the family, which has led to a decision to relocate, the holding includes paddocks, a manege, horse walker and stables. Unusually, planning consent for an equine competition arena and associated retail sales provides an alternative business opportunity to develop an equestrian centre.
In addition to a further five cottages, the farm is equipped with five yards and extensive buildings, some of which generate rents from other business and domestic use.
“It is an outstanding commercial farm,” said Mr White. “A farm of this size in South Lincs may only come to the market once in a generation.” It may also be possible to expand the investment with subsequent purchases of smaller farms in the area, which are likely to be sold when those farmers retire, he added.
The guide price is £8m, but the property has been split into three lots comprising the modern farmhouse and equine facilities with 46 acres (£615,000), a yard and buildings on 10 acres (£300,000), and the remaining yards, buildings, cottages and arable land (£7.075m). This values the land close to £3000-£3500/acre on average, with the best likely to be worth at least an extra £1000/acre.