Local couple Julie and Ian Lightley have signed a new long-term lease on a historic school building in Weston village on the Duchy’s Crewe estate.
Previously occupied by Poppy & Jack’s nursery, the building will now form part of the Village Nursery Group of eight nurseries operated by the couple across the North West region. Four of the Group’s other nurseries in Cheshire have been awarded ‘outstanding’ status by Ofsted.
Opening the doors to children earlier this month, Julie has been delighted by the uptake for places from local families: “We have transformed the nursery over the summer to showcase this beautiful old building with light and airy children’s rooms and an incredible outdoor space where we run Forest School classes.
“We are delighted to report that 25 of our available 80 spaces have already been filled with lots of interest and enquiries for places from next year. Our experienced team is looking forward to working with the new children and their families to provide the best possible learning environment in these early years.”
Julie is herself a qualified Early Years teacher with an MA in Education (Early Years). She is passionate about providing high quality learning experiences for children and making sure that each individual child is happy and confident in a learning environment. As with their other nurseries across Cheshire, Julie and her team will also forge close links with local primary schools to ensure a smooth transition into school.
The school building is situated in the heart of a conservation area within Weston village. Many of the period properties in the village form part of the 1,522-hectare Crewe estate acquired by the Duchy in the mid-1930s. Weston village is currently home to approximately 400 households.
The Duchy of Lancaster continues to encourage young people studying agriculture, land management and traditional construction skills. Around £30,000 is awarded annually in the form of bursaries and scholarships to students at Harper Adams University in Shropshire, Myerscough College in Lancashire, Moulton College in Northamptonshire and Lancaster University.
In a new working partnership this year, the Duchy also joined forces with the City & Guilds of London Art School to restore a piece of the city’s history. The stone-carved Duchy crest which sits above the front door of the building at 1 Lancaster Place in London had become weathered and faded. Environmental conditions had even led to some loss of the stone substrate, requiring careful restoration and repair.
Students Cody Cochrane and Louise Davison, both of whom are in their final year of a 3-year Conservation Studies degree at the City and Guilds of London Art School*, restored those areas where loss had occurred and repainted and re-gilded the crest according to its original design. The work was completed in just six days.
Commenting on the finished project, Duchy Head of Project Management Graeme Chalk said: “We are extremely grateful to the School and particularly Course Leader Jennifer Dinsmore for allowing the students to undertake this highly skilled work. The crest was last treated in 1999 and had become dull and lacklustre. Cody and Louise worked extremely hard with specialist conservation materials to bring it back to its original condition. It now looks as good as new again.”
1 Lancaster Place forms part of an imposing Art Deco building overlooking the River Thames and Victoria Embankment. Designed by W E Hunt in 1930 and built of Portland stone, it is now home to a small number of independent companies and has served as the administrative headquarters of the Duchy of Lancaster since its completion in 1932. It sits within the Savoy Conservation Area and is part of the Duchy’s historic Savoy Estate gifted to Edmund Crouchback by his mother Eleanor of Provence in 1264.
A Duchy farming tenant on the Salwick Estate in Lancashire has converted his dairy parlour into a fully equipped farm shop selling home reared lamb, pork and beef to wholesale and retail customers.
Richard Helme, a tenant at Wards House Farm since taking over from his father in 1996, believes the diversification of his business will add value to his existing stock of 600 breeding ewes, all lambs are finished on the farm, 6 breeding sows finishing all pigs to go through the shop. He is also trying to establish a native breed suckler herd based around Hereford, Angus and Shorthorn to finish his own beef as well. Having established a boxed lamb scheme in a smaller cutting room on the holding in 2017, Richard and his son Daniel have already built up a loyal clientele and are confident that the new venture will be well received.
“We have actually seen an increase in sales during the Covid-19 crisis,” he says, “as people have taken an increased interest in the quality and provenance of the food they eat. We hope that this trend will continue and are planning to add a small extension to the front of the building in the coming months to extend our farm shop offering and improve our customers shopping experience.”
Commenting on the new facility, the Duchy’s Regional Surveyor of Lands for the North Andrew Johnson said: “We are always keen to support tenants as they seek to diversify their farming interests. Richard’s boxed lamb scheme has grown steadily over the last three years and in many ways this new venture is the next logical step. We wish him and his team every success with the new farm shop and look forward to working with him to further develop his business.”
Wards House Farm is one of four main agricultural holdings on the Duchy’s Salwick Estate which together with estates at Myerscough, Wyreside and Whitewell makes up the Lancashire Survey. Salwick extends to 479 hectares and also includes a small number of residential and commercial lettings as well as 15 hectares of woodland.
The Duchy of Lancaster holiday cottages at Scalby Lodge in North Yorkshire are open for business once again – and are proving as popular as ever.
Within 24 hours of the lifting of Government restrictions on the hospitality sector, some 129 bookings were taken for Scalby Lodge for dates between now and the end of the year. During the recent 15-week closure all of the cottages have been thoroughly deep-cleaned and reviewed to make sure they are Covid-safe, with a new and comprehensive cleaning regime in place between stays.
A few minor changes have been introduced in line with national guidelines, including the removal of items that are difficult to sanitise such as books, magazines, cushions and throws. As a further precautionary measure, hairdryers will not be provided and visitors will be asked to kindly strip their own beds on departure. There will also be a later arrival and earlier departure time for all those staying in the cottages to allow for the professional cleaning and sanitising of the properties before they are re-let.
Commenting on the positive response to the reopening of Scalby Lodge, manager Jayne Middleton said: “We have been delighted with the number of bookings we’ve received, both from new and returning visitors. After such a difficult time for so many, we have been eager to welcome guests again and provide them with a well-earned break in this spectacular hill-top setting. The early indications are that staycations are going to prove particularly popular this year and we fully expect to reach 100 per cent occupancy between now and the rest of the year.”
Visitors should also note that the communal games room, putting green and playground will remain closed until further notice.
Scalby Lodge is a collection of fifteen individually designed holiday cottages owned by the Duchy of Lancaster. Situated on the clifftops over Scarborough and offering spectacular views across the bay, the cottages form part of the Duchy’s historic Cloughton Estate. Each of the cottages is finished to the highest standard with luxurious fixtures and fittings and has been awarded 4-star or 5-star Gold Awards by Visit England and other leading tourist organisations.