Her Majesty The Queen Visits Her Needwood Estate

Her Majesty The Queen as Duke of Lancaster visited a number of tenants on Her Duchy of Lancaster estates in Staffordshire on Thursday 25th May. The visit included a tour of Eland Lodge Equestrian Centre in Draycott-in-the-Clay and a reception for around 50 tenants at Lower Castle Hayes Farm on the Duchy’s historic Needwood Estate.

Her Majesty arrived at Tatenhill Airfield by helicopter and was met by the Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Mr Ian Dudson CBE KStJ and the Chief Executive of the Duchy of Lancaster, Mr Nathan Thompson. The Airfield, which has been part of the Duchy’s Needwood Estate since it was built as an RAF base during the Second World War, is now a thriving aviation and avionics centre. Mr Thompson introduced long-standing Duchy tenants Mike and Yvonne Shelton and their family, who first established their aviation business here in 1987. The new High Sheriff of Staffordshire Mr Humphrey Scott-Moncrieff and the new Mayor of East Staffordshire Councillor Simon Gaskin were also present to welcome The Queen to Staffordshire before Her Majesty left by car to meet a selection of Her Duchy of Lancaster tenants.

At 65 acres, Eland Lodge Equestrian Centre in Draycott-in-the-Clay is the largest of 13 equestrian tenancies located on the Needwood Estate. Upon arrival at the Centre, the Lord-Lieutenant presented Mr Mark Hudson, Chairman of the Duchy Council who in turn introduced John and Veronica Coupland, residents of Eland Lodge since 2005.  Young riders from the Meynell and South Staffordshire Pony Clubs then gave a demonstration of the Centre’s extensive cross-country course before approaching the platform and being introduced to The Queen.

Lower Castle Hayes Farm in Tutbury extends to 330 acres and is home to a herd of 300 Holstein Montbeliarde cross cows. It has been farmed by the Smith family since 2000 and Mr Philip Smith and his son Matthew are well known in agricultural circles for their innovative and successful approach to livestock management.   Mr Thompson and the Duchy’s Head of Rural Mr Christopher Sparrow presented around 50 Duchy farming tenants from the Estate to Her Majesty The Queen, before a light lunch hosted by Philip and Kath Smith in the grounds of Lower Castle Hayes. Duchy Chancellor Sir Patrick McLoughlin, members of Duchy Council and a small number of invited guests were also present at the lunch.  

Duchy Chief Executive Nathan Thompson would like thank all who took part in the day’s events: “On behalf of the Duchy Council, I would like to thank everyone for their positive contributions – particularly those tenants who hosted elements of the visit. Although this was a private visit to Duchy of Lancaster tenants, we are grateful to the Lieutenancy and local Constabulary for their support and guidance. This was a very special day for everyone involved.” 

Her Majesty last visited the Needwood Estate as part of Her Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2001. Previous visits to the Duchy’s Staffordshire Survey took place in 1982 and 1957.