The Kelmarsh Estate is a typical midland agricultural landscape covering over 3,500 acres, made up of a mix of arable cropland with pasture, woodlands and parkland. Farmland is the largest land use type and is managed by tenant farmers. Across the farmland and the wider estate, a mixture of ponds, hedgerows, mature trees, small watercourses and rough grasslands provide a habitat to the majority of the wildlife settled on the estate. All of this land is managed as part of the Trust, to preserve the agricultural landscape around the hall.
An in-house team cares for the many small spinneys and coverts that dot the landscape, a reminder of the area’s foxhunting heritage. Good management of the woodland has gained its timber products a FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) accreditation.
Much of the parkland lies above a deserted medieval village, and as such is a Scheduled ancient monument which is grazed by a pedigree herd of British White cattle.
The herd were established by George Granville Lancaster, who bought the land in 1902 and they have been managed by the estate ever since. By 1926, his son Claude had taken over the management of the herd; his sister Valencia considered it essential ‘that a home farm should be retained as being traditional to a landed estate’ and both siblings developed a life-long passion for the cattle. According to these wishes, the herd is still managed by an in-house team today.
The Estate contains numerous areas of high conservation value. All of the estate woodlands along with the park and wilderness lake are designated local wildlife sites and support many local Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) Species.
During on-going bird surveys the woodlands were found to support many species noted as in decline, and as a result, significant habitat improvement works funded by the Forestry Commission are being undertaken to help prevent further decline. The river Ise corridor is a particularly diverse habitat and a phase 1 habitat survey, as well as students from Moulton College, recorded signs of otters and water voles.