Duchy Bursary Awarded to Emma Benson

Emma Benson, Duchy of Lancaster scholar

A 20-year old student from Catforth in Lancashire has been awarded a Duchy of Lancaster bursary to support her during her degree studies at Harper Adams College in Shropshire. Emma Benson was presented with the cheque for £2,500 at a presentation ceremony at the College earlier this month.

Emma grew up in Lancashire where her family ran a small agricultural business focused mainly on contracting and fabrication. Her interest in agri-business developed as a direct result of the challenges she sees facing small agricultural businesses and the ways in which tenant farmers can be supported by responsible landowners.

“I’d like to thank the Duchy for supporting me with my studies,” she said. “I have seen first-hand the sort of opportunities that they can make available to their tenant farmers to help them develop profitable businesses. My ambition at the end of my degree is to become an agricultural consultant advising farmers on how to ensure their businesses are as profitable and efficient as possible, whatever challenges they face.”

The Duchy offers bursaries to agricultural students at both Harper Adams and Myerscough Colleges as a means of encouraging the next generation of farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs. Last year, it added a new award for students of traditional construction skills, supporting young people at Moulton College in Northamptonshire training to become skilled craftsmen in disciplines such as stonemasonry and carpentry.

Commenting on Emma’s award, Duchy Head of Rural Christopher Sparrow said: “Many congratulations to Emma for being chosen from a strong field as the recipient of this year’s award. The Duchy is very keen to encourage enthusiastic young people into agriculture which arguably is a way of life as well as a career. We wish Emma every success with her continued studies and look forward to watching her graduate at the end of the course.”

Founded in the 13th century, the Duchy of Lancaster is a private portfolio of land, property and assets held for the Sovereign in Right of His or Her Duchy of Lancaster. Today the Duchy of Lancaster is custodian of 18,700 hectares across England and Wales, including key urban developments, historic buildings, high quality farmland and areas of great natural beauty.

Under the terms of the Duchy bursary, nominated students receive financial support during both their second and fourth years while in full-time study.

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Historic Weather Vane Restored

As part of the ongoing repair and restoration works currently underway at Lancaster Castle, the Duchy of Lancaster has refurbished and re-installed a historic weather vane on the top of the John O’Gaunt Gate.

The origins of the 40-kilo lead, iron and copper weather vane are believed to date back to around 1727, although it is possible that a vane was first erected here as part of the post-Civil War repairs in the 1690s.  It stands on a stone block which fills the whole of the North East turret look-out post at the top of the Gatehouse.

By the 1950s the weather vane had become drab and indistinct with almost none of the original paintwork remaining. In 1958 the prisoners at Lancaster Castle took it down and refurbished it in the colours of the Duchy arms, re-gilding the fleur-de-lys at the fringes and restoring the crown at its peak.  In 1989, it was repaired and restored once again by the Prison Service with the help of local firm Harrison and Hutchinson.

This latest restoration has been painstakingly undertaken by the Duchy’s heritage architects, stonemasons, metalworkers and sign-painters. The team has drawn on all available historical records to match the vibrancy of the colours and reproduce the design as faithfully as possible.

The finished weather vane was re-installed at the top of the Gatehouse earlier this month and, as the scaffolding is removed, will be clearly visible to the people of Lancaster.  

Commenting on the project, Duchy Head of Project Management Graeme Chalk said: “All of the work that we are doing at Lancaster Castle is designed to restore and preserve the historic fabric of the buildings. We felt that the restoration of the weather vane was an integral part of that process and we are delighted with the skilled workmanship that has brought it back to its former glory. It now stands proudly at the top of the Gatehouse looking out over the city, where it has stood for at least 300 years and where we hope it will remain for future generations.”

The restoration work was carried out by specialist metalworkers Calibre Metalwork, heritage signwriters Martin Rooney and the building conservation team of Manchester and Cheshire Construction. The work was overseen by the Duchy’s heritage architect, Alan Davies of BDP.

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Duchy Pre-Lets 9 Savoy Street

Following the extensive refurbishment of the ground floor of 9 Savoy Street, the Duchy of Lancaster has pre-let over 3,600 sq ft of space to STV.

This latest commercial tenant agreed terms to enter into a 10-year lease, with a break at the fifth year, prior to practical completion.

Commenting on the new offices, STV’s facilities manager, Tom Durham, said: “We were looking for high quality, flexible space that we could adapt to suit our changing requirements. 9 Savoy Street is the ideal location for us in the heart of the Northbank and we look forward to moving in and making it our own.”

9 Savoy Street forms part of a large five-storey Art Deco building which is home to a number of corporate tenants, including the Duchy of Lancaster itself.  In 2016, the Duchy appointed architectural practice Morrow+Lorraine to remodel part of the ground floor and create a new, self-contained entrance onto the Embankment. The result is a light and airy office space which provides a contemporary addition to a well-loved heritage setting.  

Commenting on the letting of the space, Mike Andrews, head of commercial property for the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “We were delighted with the result of the Morrow+Lorraine design proposals, which have been fully realised to create a vibrant, modern office floor entirely in tune with the requirements of the design, advertising, media and IT sectors that are particularly active in the mid-town market. The positive response to the changes made to the external façade and interior layout are evident from the high levels of interest we received even before marketing commenced. We are delighted to welcome STV to the Northbank.”

Farebrother and Knight Frank acted for the Duchy of Lancaster, while STV were represented by Collins Commercial.

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From Generation To Generation

A new chapter is about to begin in the long and proud history of Hareholes Farm Cottage on the Duchy’s Needwood Estate in Staffordshire.  Following an extensive refurbishment project, the building has been restored to its former glory and updated throughout in line with the Duchy’s quality standard and specification.

Hareholes Farm Cottage is a large, four-bedroomed property set in over 9.5 acres. Built in the mid-19th century, it was badly affected by the Faulds Mine explosion in 1944, after which it had to be re-roofed and partially rebuilt. In the intervening years, it was the family home of the Renshaw family for over 40 years, until Mr Renshaw became unable to remain in the property due to ill health.

Over the past year, the property has been fully restored and refurbished, ready to receive a new generation of tenants and play its part in a new family history. Having seen other examples of the Duchy design standard elsewhere on the estate, the Oliver family signed up to a new lease at the very beginning of the project and have been playing an active part in the refurbishment throughout the process.

“We were looking for a family home which combined character and comfort,” said Gary, “and we had been impressed with the quality of the finish on another property that the Duchy had refurbished earlier in the year.  When we knew that Hareholes Farm Cottage was going to be renovated, we jumped at the chance and we have really enjoyed seeing the planned improvement works unfold. We are very much looking forward to bringing this lovely house to life as a family home once again.”

Duchy Head of Rural Christopher Sparrow added: “Part of the Duchy’s role is to protect and preserve historic properties such as Hareholes Farm Cottage and to make sure that a new generation of tenants will want to move in and build their memories here. We know that the Oliver family will enjoy living here and are delighted to welcome them to the Duchy family.”

The Duchy of Lancaster’s Needwood Estate includes around 60 residential properties. For information on properties currently available to let in Staffordshire, please contact Naomi Bloxham on 0115 934 8123.

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The Foulsyke – Scarborough’s Finest

One of the newest Duchy’s tenants in Yorkshire is cooking up a storm, gaining five-star reviews for a farmhouse bistro and bed & breakfast, in the little village of Scalby on the outskirts of Scarborough. Head Chef Keith Cochrane and partners Diane Woff, Brian Tate and Tracey Tate took over the former farmhouse just nine months ago and introduced a licensed bistro and café to the accommodation on offer, rebranding as ‘The Foulsyke’ and building a reputation for fine dining and excellent customer service.

The former farmhouse which sits within a working farm was previously offering bed and breakfast when Keith, Diane, Brian and Tracey took over the lease in early 2015.  They immediately spotted the potential for fine dining in the area and worked closely with the Duchy team to extend the catering facilities throughout the ground floor, adding a restaurant/bistro and fully equipped, commercial grade kitchen. Now The Foulsyke is becoming a byword for clever, innovative cuisine and high quality products sourced from the farm and other local food suppliers.

Commenting on the success of the venture, Duchy Head of Rural Christopher Sparrow said: “The Duchy is always happy to support entrepreneurial tenants who have a clear idea of where they want to take their business and how they’re going to get there. We are delighted that Keith, Diane, Brian and Tracey have made such a success of their business and in such a short period of time. We wish them continued success as they build on this in the months and years ahead.”

Keith Cochrane added: “This is such a wonderful part of the country with so much to offer visitors. We wanted to combine the best of home cooking with contemporary cuisine to develop a bespoke menu for The Foulsyke and that’s what we’ve done. The feedback from diners and those staying with us has been excellent and we would like to thank everyone for their support.”

The Duchy of Lancaster owns a number of cottages, farms and residential properties in and around Scalby and Burniston, many of which are currently being restored and refurbished to the Duchy’s new Design Standard. It also owns a collection of luxury holiday cottages at nearby Scalby Lodge. For details of properties currently under refurbishment, please contact George Wise at Savills on 01904 756300. For details of the holiday cottages available at Scalby Lodge, please visit our dedicated website www.duchyoflancasterholidaycottages.co.uk.

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