Revealed: The UK’s most expensive farm sales

The appetite for farmland continues despite uncertainties around coronavirus, Brexit and the phasing out of BPS, with the asset historically performing well during challenging economic times.

Many sales have taken place since the market became operational again in early summer, with the private market being particularly buoyant, said Charlie Paton, director of Savills’ farms and estates team.

“However, launches of a number of top end estates have been held back in order to capture the international buyers who make up a considerable proportion of the buyer pool at this level, so we are likely to have a busy autumn,” he said.

See also: The land opportunities for farmers in a post-lockdown world

Top 10 largest farm launches June 2018-July 2020

Name

County

Acreage

Launched

Status

Guide price

The Taunton Estate

Somerset

3,476

June 2018

Completed

£31.25m

The Patshull Estate

Shropshire

3,583

July 2018

Part sold

£32.5m

Ellon Farms

Aberdeenshire

2,468

July 2018

Completed

£7.2m

The Langley Estate

Durham

2,615

August 2018

Completed

£10.515m

Strutt & Parker Farms

Various

33,000* 

September 2018

Completed

£200m-plus

Evertown Portfolio

Dumfries and Galloway

8,959

September 2018

Completed

£19.5m

The Laxton Estate

Nottinghamshire

1,845

October 2018

Completed

£7m

Estuary and Marsh Farm

Norfolk

1,374

May 2019

Completed

£12m

Boothby Lodge Farm

Lincolnshire

1,525

September 2019

Exchanged

£13.65m

Ogbourne Down Estate

Wiltshire

1,408

July 2020

Available

£15m

Source: Savills. Note: *13,000 acres owned by Strutt & Parker (Farms) Ltd, plus 20,000 acres owned by third parties. **No guide price provided. Value estimated.

Savills sales

More than half of the largest farms launched in the past two years were managed by Savills.

Ellon Farms, a holding with arable ground, pasture, woodland, four houses, a pheasant shoot and agricultural buildings was offered as a whole or in six lots. It sold in October 2019.

The company Strutt & Parker (Farms) farmed about 33,000 acres of its own, contract-farmed and tenanted land and although no guide price was publicly issued, the sellers were expected to be seeking about £200m.

It included 121 freehold properties in prime arable farmland areas and the business had diversified into commercial operations, as well as renewable energy facilities.

The company was sold to Robigus in 2019, with no detail on the sums involved in the transaction released. The sale announcement said Robigus is operated in conjunction with Belport, with finance provided by European investors.

The Evertown Portfolio included equipped farms, productive farmland, commercial forestry and extensive planting opportunities, available as a whole or in 18 lots.

Owner Buccleuch Estates said tenant farmers who lived on their farms on long-term tenancies had been offered the opportunity to purchase their farms ahead of an open sale process.

Buccleuch has sold 24 farms totalling 32,000 acres across its Scottish estates over the past 20 years, as part of a policy to enable investment in new projects.

Estuary and Marsh Farm in Kings Lynn had 1,374 acres of predominantly grade 1 arable land, plus a three-bedroom house and two cottages on assured shorthold tenancies. It sold to a European investment buyer.

Boothby Lodge Farm is a well-equipped commercial farming estate with arable land, woodland and 4,500t grain storage. It also has a four-bedroom house and a two-bedroom annex.

Crown Estate

The Crown Estate owned three of the large-scale properties recorded in the top 10.

According to its annual report, the Crown Estate has a policy of selling “non-core” farms and land to restructure its rural assets, creating larger lot sizes and modern tenancies.

Savills launched The Taunton Estate, which included eight equipped farms let to four tenants, 11 residential dwellings, two commercial units, development opportunities and polo ground.

The Patshull Estate was marketed by Knight Frank available as a whole or in three lots and part of the estate has been sold. It had three equipped farms, five houses and eight cottages. It originated before the Norman Conquest and was gifted to the Crown Estate in 1958 by the Earl of Dartmouth.

The sale of The Laxton Estate was managed by Carter Jonas. Laxton is Great Britain’s only remaining farm that uses the medieval agricultural method of the “open field system”.

Tenant farmers work in open fields, without hedgerows or fences, and cultivate multiple strips of land, with the aim of everyone having a fair share of the best and worst land. The estate included 17 tenanted farms.

Laxton Estate was bought by Thoresby Estate, owned by Hugh Matheson – a descendant of the third Earl Manvers – to preserve the community’s unique farming practices.

What’s on the market?

Wiltshire unit

Aerial view of farmland

Ogbourne Down Estate © Knight Frank

Knight Frank has launched the 1,408-acre Ogbourne Down Estate, Marlborough, guided in excess of £15m.

It includes five properties, a large range of farm buildings, including a former dairy unit and a grain store, arable land, permanent pasture and woodland, as well as 32 furlongs of gallops and a stable yard.

It is available as a whole or in six lots.

Scottish holding

Aerial view of farmland

Stobo Estate © Knight Frank

The Stobo Estate, near Peebles in the Scottish Borders, is on the market with Knight Frank, guided in excess of £12m.

The livestock holding includes 3,885 acres of pasture and woodland, about 20 properties, a range of farm buildings, a loch with a boat house and fishing hut, sporting potential and a waterfall.

It is available as a whole or in seven lots.

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