Lambourn estate built up by agricultural pioneer

A Berkshire estate that used to belong to one of the largest and most pioneering farmers in England is being sold by Strutt & Parker.

The 905-acre Eastbury Manor Estate, two miles from Lambourn, was rented by George Bayliss from 1895 and bought in 1918 for £11,900.

It formed part of a farming estate that at one point stretched to 12,140 acres. Of those, 6150 acres were owned outright.

Mr Bayliss started his farming career in 1866 as a tenant on a 225-acre farm where he soon became dissatisfied with the traditional four-course livestock manure-dependent rotation practised at the time.

Despite hostility from other farmers, he decided that eliminating livestock altogether would be the key to greater profitability and developed a six-year all-arable rotation using artificial fertilisers and based on early research from Rothamsted.

After years of persevering with his ideas and the loss of £600, Mr Bayliss bought his first farm – 400-acre Wyfield Manor at Boxford, near Newbury – for £15,000.

More purchases, including Eastbury Manor, followed throughout the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th, until he reportedly farmed more arable land than any other English farmer.

This was despite grain prices slumping to £10/t in the 1870s as cheap US wheat flooded into the UK.

While grain prices are still languishing at barely seven times what Mr Bayliss was receiving over 130 years ago, the value of what remains of his vast farming estate has increased far more significantly.

James Laing of Strutt & Parker has guided Eastbury Manor, which includes an eight-bedroom, Grade II listed manor house and is being sold by a granddaughter of Mr Bayliss, at 6m.

He said the new owner was unlikely to be a farmer, let alone an agricultural pioneer.

“I think it will be bought by somebody who works in London looking for a residential farm with lots of amenity potential and who wants to bring up their children in a fantastic house on the edge of a village.”

The house is available separately for £2m, but Mr Laing said he thought buyers would want the whole package.

“It seems to have what the market wants at the moment.

It is only 70 miles from London, there is a manageable house, a shoot, chalk fishing, and there is a rare all-weather eight-furlong gallop and it costs £6m not £26m. I think it has got everything.”

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