Part of Clandon Park includes agricultural land that is registered as Historic England Listed Grade II Parkland. Each Year on this land Clandon Park produces up to thirty thousand bales of fine Clandon Park Meadow Hay, Seed Hay or Haylage.
This enterprise has proved to be highly successful because the hay we produce on Clandon Park has good herbage value and has been created as a result of a very carefully crafted sustainable regime.
The Clandon Park Conservation Management Plan (Clandon Park CMP) includes the conservation management of its extensive grassland not simply to create good grazing for its livestock and to produce excellent hay. The grassland management regimes, employed on the Estate, encompass a number of measures that are aimed at continually addressing the wish to improve or manage the diversity and density of herbage in certain areas of the holding. conservation of environment is critical to this aim. Biodiversity and conservation are two words that are regularly banded about the park ! It is the biodiversity and its conservation that are important on any farming estate.
Clandon Parks ecological eyes are wide open. Lord Onslow and the Clandon Park staff understand the Clandon Park environment intimately, and understand that their actions often need to be sympathetic to various types of creature, plant and other biological organism that have made Clandon Park their home. Although these are common species to the area the team are nonetheless very aware that certain species are important to the ecological balance and diversity on Clandon Park.
Clandon Park's many and diverse habitats have been created and managed by the Onslow family for centuries because it is not just the Earls of Onslow's family Seat and it is not just a profitable farm and business enterprise. Clandon Park is their passion.This is why the methods employed on the Estate, the choice of livestock, the timing of grazing and the practice of cutting grass to produce hay, is decided so carefully from one year to the next. This is why some grasses are cut short while others are cut high, and this is why some areas of the Estate are left fallow and not touched at all for some years and why occasional colonies of fauna or flora are given a chance to grow or recover (particularly if historic disturbance has reduced the colony or if we wish to increase their numbers for other purposes)
So we celebrate our Clandon Park Hay because it is not just any old meadow hay. Clandon Park Hay has been created with the balance of the Clandon Park ecology always in mind.
15,000 trees have been planted at Clandon Park in the last two years as part of our 2017-2032 Clandon Park Conservation Management Plan. The planting includes individual specimen trees to replace those that have historically been lost through disease, young trees to replace those that fell in storms, new stands of trees to border restored ancient rides, groups of trees to replace stands in commercial forests and new commercial plantations that will also, eventually, provide important habitats for birds, such as Grey Partridge, at their fringes.
Forward thinking ideas like these, that are put into practice at Clandon Park, should not be viewed in isolation. Clandon Park does not look for a gap and plant thousands of trees simply to make more money from its timber sales. We think long and hard about the environmental consequences of our actions and also plan in terms of a hundred years or even hundreds of years, rather than the short term. It will be the current Earls heir who will benefit from the new forests that have been planted in the last two years, however the environment, particularly in terms of forest floor plants and habitats and the improved carbon sequestration, that will benefit the environ in the short term.
So what thought process has driven Lord Onslow and his dedicated Foresters to plant specific numbers and species of trees in particular areas ?
Firstly we consulted with a number of external specialists as well as our own in house team. Our aim was to replace lost trees but to also honour the life of the 7th Earl of Onslow by planting new forests in his name. The purpose of the forests was to create further habitat for specific wildlife, plant for future commercial sustainable exploitation and to provide further windbreaks for certain parts of the Parkland.
The final choice of the location of the largest new forest also happens to promise to eventually screen new development that has occurred beyond the curtilage of Clandon Park.
The new forests are proving to be very labour intensive due to the recent adverse weather conditions. Although we have placed guards on each new tree we have also lost some due to the deer decimating them. We still have a small naturalised wild population of deer on the Estate however, other than the deer fence that originally enclosed the deer into the much smaller emparked parkland area (around the 7 acres of land the Onslow Trust gifted to the Nation including the house, Clandon House) we certainly have never had a wall or deer fence on the wider boundary of Clandon Park to keep deer out or to keep them within the agricultural holding !
So the many thousands of trees we have planted and plan to plant in the next 13 years are planted with the future Clandon Park in mind. Harking back to the days when the wooded land was first emparked but looking forward to ensure the environment is protected by the family. By this we mean protection from environmental degradation caused by the extremes of weather resulting from climate change and soil erosion and protection from being gifted or sold to become exploited simply as a woodland or other such visitor attraction. The holding has now been protected for the next three centuries against such exploitation. Clandon Park is a family owned agricultural estate and the parkland will remain so.
The existing Onslow owned private parkland, Clandon Park, was originally emparked and named Clandon Park under Royal Warrant in the 16th (and again in the 17th century) as a wooded deer park and has remained the centre of the Onslow agricultural holding since the mid 1600's.
Over the centuries the historic woodland, lands and properties, including Clandon House, have been held in the Onslow Family Trust and passed via its Trustees (Trustees such as the late Gwendolyn Countess Iveagh ,Gwendolyn Onslow) always to the beneficiary, the first born or presumptive male Onslow heir. The current Earl of Onslow has a more contemporary approach and is a stickler for equality, so has restructured the Trust to include any first born heirs, which now includes first born female Onslow heirs. For the first time in Clandon Parks history the forestry harvested and planted, by its male Onslow owner, will, many years in the future, be harvested, and new forestry will be planted, by a daughter. All at Clandon Park celebrate that important step in our history.
The Onslow family have created many features at Clandon Park. The most obvious features that are now the habitat for fauna and flora include the grassland, meadows, coverts, forests, avenues of trees, gardens, shrubbery, rides, paths, hedges, walls, a tennis court, an orangery, walled gardens, an ice house, game crops, a horse race course, a golf course, a cricket ground, common land, terraces, lakes, islands, scrub land, chalk pits and many secret places.
These features have evolved or have been altered to be fit for purpose or changed over time to suit an ever changing climate. Most of these features no longer exist in their original form , while others have been created as contemporary concepts during the last forty years. The Clandon Park Estate continues to evolve, and each generation is charged with the responsibility of complimenting the input of the last, without compromising its important agricultural holding, its more recent educational heritage and the historic links with Guildford and the Onslow family. As such, the next century promises to be a challenging but particularly exciting time for all who care for and nurture the many activities at Clandon Park.
Managing habitats that the family have created historically, usually follows a process that involves observing or monitoring the habitat on a regular basis, quantifying and evaluating the colony against expectations, updating our existing plans... then.... implementing the plan which often means a little maintenance, occasionally means we take immediate action to improve it but usually it indicates that we "do not disturb" so we leave well alone. Strangely it is often the latter that is the most difficult to implement. This is because if you are passionate about the work of conservation you are programmed to intervene and you are automatically looking for action to take to conserve the site. Certain, carefully selected disturbance to a habitat is occasionally helpful to the business of Clandon Park or may result in an improved habitat. Occasionally, creating a new habitat benefits both. However, such disturbance tends to be rare.
Lady Onslow's Temple has a makeover as part of our routine maintenance programme. This Temple was moved in 1924 from Lady Onslow's Clandon Regis House Gardens in West Clandon to a field location on the Earl of Onslow's Clandon Park (it was not moved to the Clandon House Gardens). The Temple remains on the 1924 site and Lady Onslow has no plans to relocate it. As such the Temple is maintained as a place for regular family picnics and it is often used as a wonderful place to take shelter while fishing. Keep posted for next project.
Clandon Park has in excess of fifty gateways to maintain every year.
2017 was a lovely year with the arrival of new livestock and exciting agreements entered into for our Clandon Park agricultural business. 2018 is proving to be an amazing year too, particularly for our team that manages the Clandon Park flock of RBST & WWSS registered Whitefaced Woodland rare breed sheep. We have in excess of 500 ewes on the holdings and the Clandon Park registered flock is currently in excess of 122 Whitefaced Woodland ewes and the registered ewe numbers are planned to double in size every year until we reach our target of a 1,500 commercial flock of registered breeding ewes.
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