We are very excited to announce that we are looking to restart swimming at Chillesford on 12th April.

To enable us to offer a COVID-19 safe environment we have needed to modify the way we do some things, critically this includes ensuring that swimming groups are made up of people who come from the same bubble, as described, and amended from time to time, by the Government.

We have also needed to update our Terms and Conditions, all swimmers/groups new to swimming at Chillesford Lodge will need to familiarise themselves with our revised Terms and Conditions of Hire, please read them very carefully and ensure that you can comply.

There has been a significant study on risk associated with swimming pools and Covid-19. The conclusion being that the risk is negligible on account of the chlorinated environment and air management systems which replenish fresh air into the pool room. We operate to the Swim England Guidance and therefore the most dangerous areas of possible virus transmission are in the changing rooms. It is essential that all swimmers comply with the one way system and arrive “beach ready”, only accessing their allocated changing room AFTER they have swum in the pool. That way there is at least a 40 minute gap between each group in that changing room. For all those that need to use the disabled loo/changing room especial care must be taken in the changing room corridor so that 2 metre distancing is observed at all times. Everywhere outside the pool room, the wearing of masks is recommended. To keep everyone as safe as possible timekeeping will be crucial. Even if you arrive late, your group must exit the pool on the hour or half hour as booked.

The safety of everyone relies on people adhering to new ways of doing things, and we look forward to welcoming you back to the pool.

The final phase of development at Chillesford Lodge is set to start this Spring, with six properties completing the restoration and rejuvenation of the last and biggest model farm built in East Anglia.

All owners of the ten properties developed and sold so far, agree that Chillesford Lodge offers a lot more than just a place to live.

The Shepherds Hut has proved a popular picnic destination, and the indoor Swimming Pool and Workshop next door, (where light ~ gym equipment allows for gentle workouts), provide entertainment for when the weather is too wet or windy for walking.

Two of the six houses in this final phase are already RESERVED leaving just four to offer to market. Buying off-plan allows owners to choose the final decorative colour schemes and carpets, as well as bespoke kitchens and bathrooms within an agreed budget.

Reservations are secured by a 1% non-refundable deposit and – prospective buyers are encouraged to visit as soon as they can.

This is the last chance to buy into the peace and sanctuary of living at Chillesford Lodge. Full property details can be found here.

Chillesford Lodge is delighted to release “Minsmere without the Crowds!”

A short film put together by rising star cameraman Rowan Aitcheson which shows everyday sightings on the Estate filmed over 5 days in June.

Deer, badger, barn owl and bittern are just some of the reasons why living here is so special. The owl majestically flying low over the backs of our Red Poll cattle is almost certainly related to the owl photographed here by Eric Hosking in 1948 (below).

Eric’s famous photograph of a barn owl in full flight returning to our Suffolk barn, is a sight we now see as the owl of this film feeds voles to a clutch of chicks born here this spring. Eric Hosking’s pioneering career as a wildlife photographer, and his exceptional images, inspired a National interest in birdwatching and helped grow the RSPB into the organisation it is today.

The Suffolk barn of 1948 is now plastered and painted, the door now a window channelling light into a cavernous kitchen. Perhaps we should have called it Hosking House? Named Wheelhouse it is for sale to bird lovers and others, one of only two properties still available from Phase Two of our development.

With fantastic views to the lowland grazing marshes, saltings and Butley Creek, Wheelhouse and Ruston are regularly visited by flocks of swallows, gold finches, wagtails and warblers, with egrets, lapwing and stone curlew combing the landscape and raising their young.

If Eric Hosking were living here today, he would see it much the same as it has always been, only a little more comfortable we hope. Just ask Rowan!

View the video

Chillesford Lodge Estate

Beautiful Homes in a Wildlife Heaven

June 2019

Proverbs often neatly convey a truism and none more so than the 16th Century’s Muck and MONEY one!

The earliest widely available coinage was brass and much money could be made doing the mucky jobs of 16th Century England. Recycling is nothing new, until the advent of mains drainage night soil men toured our towns and cities collecting “muck” to sell on as fertiliser. Something most farms need.

We joke that we farm a beach here, light sandy land that drains really fast. It is though perfect for outdoor pigs. The ones here are managed in a creep rearing system which means piglets are housed in large airy outdoor pens, tented at one end with a deep litter of straw. As the piglets grow the pen is extended and the litter is topped up, absorbing all the waste as it is produced. The pens are rotated around the light land so that the litter can be spread and ploughed in to improve the soil. It’s a time honoured system which means we can grow root crops successfully. Potatoes, carrots, onions and leeks all owe the pigs a thank you. It is not “Organic” farming but farming organically, an utterly traditional way of putting nitrogen back into the soil. With a healthy dose of fibrous straw to improve the tilth it also makes our farm less like a beach.

 

 

As night temperatures rise and trees shoot their leaves the animal world wakes up to the business of Spring. They are programmed to procreate after all.

Once winter is over, sap starts to rise and the food chain is re-established. The air becomes busy with insects emerging from safe hiding places, along with hedgehogs, mice, snakes and stoats. Birdsong brightens the morning as birds call one another out.

Some species are non-selective, each spring brings any opportunistic passer-by whilst others partner up for life. The lifers can show real grief when left, and many pet geese bond with enamel buckets when their partner dies.

Survival is a numbers game yet there is a need to pick a provider too. David Attenborough and the BBC’s Natural History Unit have been educating and entertaining for decades with endless hours of captivating film. We are lucky to have a constant year round show of our own. Spring means live entertainment watching the feathered and furry pairing up on the cusp of reliable night time temperatures. It is nearly warm enough to consider nesting and resting, so all the competitive behaviour starts now. Hares are boxing in the meadows, deer bark in the park and the night air is noisy with owls calling.

The ditchwater is also warming and from no-where the fish have arrived. Tiny darting arrows of translucence, they are born from the mud and bask in the sun. Soon we can expect the annual cacophony from the frogs and toads, a racket which heralds the first flush of spawn into the ponds. We pray that no late frost kills it off ….

Oh and we check our wellington boots carefully each morning. For some reason toads love to overnight in rubber.

 

 

As the drifts of snowdrops slowly make way for the aconites and daffodils that follow our first Hereford calf is born. By the time the bluebells burst through, carpeting the woods a deep Mediterranean blue, the whole herd will have calved and the farm will be vibrant with new life.

It is always a bit magical to see a newborn up on its feet within minutes of arriving, desperate to suckle the first milk. Called colostrum it contains vital immunoglobulins which protect the calf from infection. Sometimes this super rich milk is stolen by a rogue cow and such thieves need to be kept at bay. Calves must suckle within the first ten hours to secure their six week fix of Mother Nature’s medicine. Their own immune system develops fully at 8 weeks so there is an anxious fortnight’s wait before we can be sure that the calf will thrive.

Rarely, after a difficult calving, it is the Mother that doesn’t make it and Nature’s medicine has to be bought and administered by hand. Bottle feeding a newborn is not for the faint hearted as a calf is pre-programmed to head butt its Mother’s udder to get the milk to flow. It is an unavoidable hazard and hurts! The sooner the orphan learns to suck from a bucket the better.

My first hand rearing experience produced an utterly tame cow. Her whole life was spent here, first living in our garden terrorising the postman and eating all the daffodils, only when she got too big did she join the herd on the marshes. She remained tame to the end and was always easy to handle, letting our children ride on her back and perfectly behaved for the open farm days we organised for schools.

I still miss her!

Last week a dutiful and diligent member of the public dialled 999 having mistaken the superb Laurence Edwards’ bronze, A Thousand Tides, as a dead body. This monumental piece lies on the edge of the saltings at the top of Butley Creek and is only visible at low water.

Laurence used to work from his studio on the upper west bank and this enormous one and a half life size bronze man is a legacy thank you to the acres of reed bed and glittering creek landscape that had inspired his creative genius for over a decade. It lies in the heart of a nature reserve protected with seven environmental designations. In fact its not possible to see this sculpture from the public footpath, so maybe the good Samaritan who dialled 999 was in the air? A place where dimensions are often distorted by distance. Luckily the three emergency services which responded on the ground quickly established fact from fiction.

We too are lucky, we farm to the low water mark on the east side of Butley Creek, this beautiful bronze is a daily treat for all those that live at Chillesford Lodge and know where to find it!

We farm the old fashioned natural way and make no apologies for that. It means our field boundaries have scruffier hedges and are noisy with birdsong, and our field margins are left to burst with wild flowers and weeds; which feed the nesting birds and attract rich and rare birds and bees.

Talking of which reminds me that we replaced our two Red Poll bulls with Herefords this year. Naturally our new boys have been busy running with their ladies all summer. We split the breeding herd in two so that each bull has his own harem. These herds graze the farm meadows and marshes with new born calves at foot with their Mothers and only weaned after six months. Calves raised on such a rich balanced diet grow as naturally as possible. It means we can control the bloodlines and can match and make the best possible bottoms for beef! Now that BBQ season is here we have enough rump steak to feed an army.

For those that live at Chillesford Lodge beef can always be on the menu.

Without sounding too Luddite we are now enjoying open season on the lost and frazzled.

For many visitors to the Suffolk Heritage Coast the fact that sat-nav often does not work is almost as annoying as the derisory level of mobile telephone service. For young people on their Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, having to use a paper OS map and if necessary find a fast disappearing public telephone box, reduces many of Britain’s Best to speechlessness. Certainly when found on the farm well and truly lost and strayed from the footpath on their maps, some people can become positively mute and rather coy about any “Right to Roam”. Tony Blair’s campaign for open access failed for fenced farmland but it remains alarmingly alive in the minds of some, and finding members of the public completely unaware of where they are is especially dangerous in livestock country. Farming near a coastal location where there is a widely held belief that the beach comes for free, the need to get the access balance right is fraught with hazard.

We are lucky at Chillesford Lodge, we only have one footpath and it is well signed. Our inland beach is private, a huge sandpit of crag with a thirty foot cliff packed out with sand martins and kingfisher nests. Rather like the 2,400 traditional red telephone boxes listed grade II and spared from dereliction, Chillesford Lodge is a growing community hidden in the heart of Suffolk’s Heritage Coast – Not lost at all to those lucky people who get to know about it.