Well-equipped Essex farm among first on market this spring

Farm agents are beginning to report the first significant launches of 2009.

Tim Fagan of Strutt & Parker is selling St Mary’s Hall, a 480-acre ringfenced farm near Great Bentley in Essex, jointly with local agent Fenn Wright. An exceptionally well-equipped commercial farm, its picturesque farmhouse and gardens, as well as its private setting, enhance its credentials as a small private estate.

The farmland is mostly Grade 2 and supports cereals and root cropping, although there is no water abstraction licence for irrigation. But the high-value soils haven’t been stretched – Mr Fagan said the farm had been “sensitively farmed for both production and conservation”. The farm is in an Entry Level
Stewardship agreement.

A range of agricultural buildings has been significantly improved in recent years, with 1200t of on-floor grain drying and storage. Other general-purpose buildings have been reclad and, while not huge, are commensurate with the farm’s acreage. The farmhouse and buildings lie in the centre of the land, which has access from minor roads.

Fields are suited to modern arable production, with a few approaching 100 acres, while there are a few smaller parcels of land nearer the house. Acquisitions of smaller parcels in recent years have completed the farm’s entirety as one block.

The house’s impressive Georgian frontage hid evidence of a much older structure, Mr Fagan said. “While it appears a typical Georgian ‘rectory’, the rear of the house is much older, with timber-framed parts.”

St Mary’s Hall has been in the same family ownership since the early 20th century and had been farmed in-hand until fairly recently. At present the owners run a full machinery fleet, but labour is provided by a relative. Much of the cultivation kit had been customised to the farm’s soils and the vendor would consider a lock, stock and barrel arrangement which included tractors and tackle, Mr Fagan said.

St Mary’s Hall is for sale as a whole and guided at about £3.95m.

Strutt & Parker’s Market Harborough branch has also received a spring instruction. Manor Farm at Buckworth near Huntingdon is a 410-acre block of bare land with 1200t of modern grain storage.

The land has been farmed by the firm’s farming team for nearly a decade since the current owner acquired it and a £150,000 investment was made in on-floor storage in 2000. There is also a general purpose building and an implement shed. Soils are mainly clay loams which should perform better than a 4t/acre average, said the firm’s Rodney Vigne.

Guide price is £2.4m, which values the land at about £5500/acre.