Update July 27th: Good news – we understand that the house and orchards were purchased by a private buyer sympathetic to orchard conservation.
Here’s an opportunity for someone – or some organisation – to acquire and save nearly 30 acres of traditional orchard – with an option on a recently derelict (fire-damaged) farmhouse and yard too. The site is being offered in 4 lots at auction on 22nd July.
The location is Saycells Farm, once a significant player in our local orchard history. Positioned just inside Gloucestershire but along the border with Herefordshire it is very close to the cider-making village of Much Marcle, where Westons Cider are based today. But, back in the 19th Century, Saycells itself supported a cider and perry business as big as, possibly larger than, Westons. The remaining traditional standard orchards – about 29 acres in total – reflect that legacy.
The land within the orchard lots also includes a rare parcel of flower-rich old grassland. The orchards, and the grassland, are local and national biodiversity conservation priority habitats, so the wildlife value – and potential – is huge. Maintaining the continuity of these habitats is completely compatible with reinstating fruit production and suitable grazing, so there is of course significant production potential too. There is also, sadly, a possibility of a new owner not wanting the orchards.
GOT is working with other groups and individuals to highlight the orchard value of the site – and we hope to galvanise the interest of persons wishing to own and care for this important conservation asset. We feel this is the surest way of avoiding the loss and damage that may follow a sale to persons not so motivated. There is a well-established local community orchard group – The Big Apple – very close by in Much Marcle who could support a new owner make a success the acquisition.
More details and links are below – but do get in touch with GOT or others if you want some advice – we can put you in touch with local orchard owners, some on adjoining farms, who can help explain the possibilities and potential.
Location: Postcode HR8 2NP, gridref SO663312 – see map extract above.
The Auction details:
Saycells Farm is for sale at auction via HJ Pugh & Co, unless previously sold, at The Hazle Meadows Auction Centre, Ross Road, HR8 2LP on Wednesday 22nd July 2020 at 6.30pm.
Sale details are online at http://www.hjpugh.co.uk/full-details.php?id=2810&farm-much-marcle-ledbury-herefordshire-ledbury
There is also a pdf brochure available here: http://images.portalimages.com/24206/29684739/brochure/s1/637268616575672537/33468ef07ed4d7bb6a6e022a6890d7fadb2d8357.pdf
The sale lots are (see map below right):
- Lot 1 – derelict house, outbuildings and land of 10.3 acres which includes old traditional standard perry pear orchards with excellent vintage varieties including Blakeney Red, Brandy, Moorcroft and Thorn;
- Lot 2 – traditional standard cider apple orchards (with a few standard perry pears) and permanent pasture alongside Kempley Road of 12.9 acres, which contains abundant wild daffodils. The mature fruit trees have a lot of dead wood = fabulous for bugs and birds;
- Lot 3 – relict traditional standard perry pear orchard with species-rich, semi-natural neutral grassland of 6.27 acres (and an adjacent improved pasture of 14.75 acres) on north side of lane to St Mary’s Kempley – among which are 2 x Gregg’s Pit perry pear trees a rare variety.
- Lot 4 – mixed secondary native broadleaved woodland and fishing pools of 37.45 acres with abundant Common Spotted Orchids along the rides and adjacent to the lakes; good stands of Yellow Flag, Water Mint, Marsh Thistle and Wild Angelica at the lake margins, and mature standard oaks and at least one mature yew tree within the secondary woodland plantation, as well as numerous mature standard oak and ash trees alongside the Kempley Road.
(Words from Mark July adapted by Jonathan Briggs)