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IT BEGINS WITH THE SOIL

I. HECKFIELD PLACE

HECKFIELD PLACE HAS NEVER RELIED ON YESTERDAY. ALWAYS EVOLVING, RESOLUTELY NATURAL, WE ARE A BEAUTIFUL PIECE OF ENGLISH HISTORY THAT REDEFINES THE IDEA OF A COUNTRY HOTEL. AN ELEGANT GEORGIAN FAMILY HOME LOVINGLY RESTORED AND REWOVEN BACK INTO 438 ACRES OF HAMPSHIRE COUNTRYSIDE.

WE HAVE ALWAYS STOOD AS A MEETING POINT: A PLACE OF NEW IDEAS, OF NEW CONNECTIONS, OF PASSING SEASONS. EVERYTHING WE DO RELATES TO NATURE – FROM THE HOUSE ITSELF, WHICH, LIKE SO MANY GRAND ENGLISH HOUSES, IS POSITIONED TO ALIGN WITH THE MOVEMENT OF THE SUN, TO OUR BIODYNAMIC FARM, FARM-TO-FORK OFFERING AND NATURAL SKINCARE LINE. IN AN INCREASINGLY TURBULENT WORLD, THIS IS A PLACE THAT FEELS TIMELY IN ITS PURSUIT. A PLACE THAT STANDS OUT OF TIME, SEEKING TO IMPART WISDOM AND INSPIRE CHANGE.

A FORWARD-LOOKING ENDEAVOUR, WE MAINTAIN A HUMBLE REGARD TO ITS LEGACY DATING TO THE 1760S. AS WE RESPECT THIS 250-YEAR-OLD HISTORY, SO WE LOOK FORWARD WITH A 250-YEAR NEW PLAN. HECKFIELD PLACE IS A LAND SCULPTED BY MANY HANDS, MINDS AND IDEAS OVER HUNDREDS OF YEARS. TODAY WE ACT AS CUSTODIANS OF THIS REMARKABLE ESTATE.

Root Veg
Cows
Flower Bee

2. AT OUR HEART

OUR JOURNEY STARTED A DECADE AGO WITH A SIMPLE AMBITION: TO RECONNECT A GRAND ENGLISH HOUSE, ITS HOME FARM AND THE LOCAL COMMUNITY. IN THIS TIME, TWO THINGS HAVE COME TO DEFINE US.

THE FIRST IS THAT EVERYTHING AT HECKFIELD PLACE BEGINS WITH THE SOIL; WE ARE INTRINSICALLY CONNECTED TO THE LAND, AND WE MUST PROVIDE FOR IT SO IT CAN CONTINUE TO PROVIDE FOR US.

THE SECOND IS TIME. WE ARE A LIVING PLACE, ROOTED IN THE RHYTHMS OF SLOW TIME – AT NATURE’S SPEED. THE PACE AND ENERGY OF HECKFIELD PLACE, AND OUR RESPECT FOR NATURE AND OUR ENVIRONMENT, ALL STEMS FROM THIS APPRECIATION OF TIME.

Food

Heckfield 141 (1)

3. THE HOUSE

IN A TIME OF UNBELIEVABLE DISCOVERIES AND UNPRECEDENTED MODERNITY, WE FIND OURSELVES LOOKING TO FORGOTTEN SKILLS AND LOST WAYS OF LIVING. HECKFIELD PLACE IS AN ANTIDOTE TO MODERN LIVING. A WAY OF SEEING LUXURY IN A NEW WAY. THE HOUSE, LIKE EVERYTHING AT HECKFIELD, ADHERES TO THE RHYTHMS OF NATURE. IT IS A PLACE WITH AN ITERATIVE AND HUMAN PERSPECTIVE.

EVERYTHING COMES TOGETHER - AND RADIATES FROM - THE HOUSE. FROM PLASTIC-FREE ROOMS WITH NATURAL MATERIALS SOURCED LOCALLY AND SENSITIVELY WHEREVER POSSIBLE (SUCH AS RUSH MATS AND HEADBOARDS FROM THE RIVER OUSE) TO EATING AND DINING WHERE THE PRODUCE WE GROW COMES TO OUR RESTAURANTS ENSURING HEALTHIER AND MORE DELICIOUS MENUS AS WELL AS GREATLY REDUCING FOOD MILES, DELIVERIES TO SITE, AND TRAFFIC ON THE LOCAL ROADS. TO CREATE A CLOSED CIRCLE WHERE WE WORK ON MANAGING OUR WASTE BY COMPOSTING AND BURNING IN OUR BIOMASS BOILER.

TO ENSURE WE MANAGE OUR ENERGY CONSUMPTION IN THE MOST CONSIDERED WAY, WE USE A BIOMASS ENERGY CENTRE TO HEAT OUR HOT WATER AND HEATING. WE CONTROL OUR LIGHTING CENTRALLY AND ON MOTION SENSOR SYSTEMS AS WELL AS 90% USING LEDS. TO MAINTAIN OUR WATER CONSUMPTION RESPONSIBLY, WE USE OUR OWN BORE HOLE AND HARVEST RAINWATER WHEREVER WE CAN FOR THE ESTATE USE.

TO SHARE ALL THAT WE DO AT HECKFIELD WE OFFER WALKS AND TALKS TO DISCOVER THE ESTATE, OUR HOME FARM, GARDENS AND WOODLANDS. THESE ARE COORDINATED THROUGH THE ASSEMBLY, A CURATED PROGRAMME OF EVENTS WHICH CULTIVATES A SPACE TO UNEARTH, RECONNECT AND REDISCOVER A DIVERSE PROGRAMME BUILT AROUND THE CORE THEMES OF THE ESTATE.

97319426 HP Farm 9
Bees Farm
Onions

4. THE FARM

IF THE HOUSE IS THE HEART OF HECKFIELD, THE FULLY CERTIFIED BIODYNAMIC AND ORGANIC FARM IS ITS SOUL. OVERSEEN BY THE HECKFIELD TEAM AND GUIDED BY THE FORMIDABLE CONSULTANT JANE SCOTTER OF FERN VERROW, THE FARM PROVIDES EVERYTHING FOR THE HOUSE: FROM FLOWERS TO ROTATING ARABLE CROPS AND HONEY.

THE DEFINITION OF BIODYNAMICS IS THAT IT IS A HOLISTIC FORM OF SUSTAINABLE, ORGANIC AGRICULTURE, WHICH RECOGNISES THAT ALL LIFE, SEEN AND UNSEEN, HAS A ROLE TO PLAY IN GROWING THE BEST FOOD POSSIBLE. JUST LIKE ORGANIC FARMING, THE APPROACH – CREATED BY RUDOLF STEINER THROUGH A SERIES OF EIGHT LECTURES GIVEN IN 1924 TO REMEDY THE WIDESPREAD USE OF ARTIFICIAL FERTILISER POST THE FIRST WORLD WAR – UNDERSTANDS THE IMPORTANCE OF A ‘LIVING’ SOIL TO PRODUCE HEALTHY AND NUTRITIOUS CROPS. THIS IS MAINTAINED WITHOUT THE USE OF ARTIFICIAL CHEMICALS BUT RATHER WITH NATURAL FERTILISERS SUCH AS COMPOST AND MANURE. THESE MATERIALS BUILD SOIL RATHER THAN DEPLETE IT AND THIS WAY OF FARMING IS RESPECTFUL OF NATURE, THE PLANET AND THE RESULTANT PRODUCE IS CONSIDERED BETTER FOR HUMAN BEINGS.

TAKING A STEP BEYOND ORGANIC, BIODYNAMIC GROWERS ALSO USE SPECIFIC HERBAL REMEDIES. THESE ‘PREPARATIONS’ AS THEY ARE KNOWN, ENHANCE THE ABILITY OF SOIL, PLANT AND ANIMAL TO MAKE BETTER USE OF THE FORCES, OR INFORMATION, AVAILABLE TO THEM IN THE ATMOSPHERE. THEY DO THIS BY STIMULATING A CONVERSATION BETWEEN THE PHYSICAL MATTER OF THE SOIL AND THE INVISIBLE ENERGY OF OUR PLANET’S SURROUNDINGS. IN CASE THIS IS HARD TO GRASP IT IS WORTH A REMINDER THAT ALL THE GASES THAT SURROUND US ON A DAILY BASIS ARE INVISIBLE.

BIODYNAMIC GROWERS ALSO USE A CALENDAR TO HELP GUIDE THEM IN CHOOSING OPTIMUM TIMES TO CARRY OUT TASKS IN THE GARDEN OR ON THE FARM. THESE INCLUDE SEED SOWING, WORKING THE SOIL, PLANTING, PRUNING AND HARVESTING. WITH THE CALENDAR IN MIND IT IS AN ACCEPTED PART OF BIODYNAMICS THAT LIFE ON EARTH IS AT ALL TIMES UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE OTHER PLANETS AND STARS IN OUR SOLAR SYSTEM. FOR EXAMPLE, THE SUN, WHICH NOT ONLY GIVES US LIGHT AND WARMTH BUT ALSO, WITH AID FROM THE ATMOSPHERE, IS A KEY ELEMENT IN PHOTOSYNTHESIS – THE PROCESS BY WHICH PLANTS USE CARBON DIOXIDE AND LIGHT, WITH CHLOROPHYLL, TO GROW. THE OTHER BY-PRODUCT OF PHOTOSYNTHESIS IS OXYGEN, WHICH IS WHAT WE BREATHE.

IN 2020 WE OPENED OUR OWN MICRO-DAIRY, WHICH GENERATES BIODYNAMIC WHOLESOME MILK, CREAM, BUTTER AND YOGURTS FOR THE HOUSE. THE MILK FROM OUR 38 GUERNSEY COWS IS CREATING CHEESE WITH OUR LOCAL CHEESEMAKER VILLAGE MAID AND THERE ARE 59 SUFFOLK AS WELL AS HAMPSHIRE AND SOUTHDOWN SHEEP. IN TERMS OF PIGS, THERE ARE GENERALLY BETWEEN 15 TO 30 BRITISH SADDLEBACKS ON SITE – THE CLOSEST MATCH TO THE ORIGINAL HECKFIELD PIG MENTIONED IN THE SPECTATOR IN 1850 AND BRED BY CHARLES SHAW LEFEVRE, WHO WAS THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. THEY HELP CONTROL THE GRASS AND BRING FERTILITY TO OUR SOIL, A VITAL PART OF THE BIODYNAMIC CLOSED CIRCLE.

OUR TWO FLOCKS OF 400 FREE-RANGE HYLINE CHICKENS ROAM THE FARM AND PROVIDE FREE RANGE EGGS FOR THE KITCHENS, WHILE 20 BEEHIVES ARE BUSY BUZZING AROUND THE 500 TREES OF OUR ORCHARD, WHERE THE BLOSSOMS OF APPLE, PEAR, GREENGAGES, DAMSONS, CHERRIES, MEDLARS AND MORE HELP THEM CREATE DELICIOUS HONEYCOMB FOR OUR TABLE.

SEVEN NEW GREENHOUSES – EACH SET TO DIFFERENT TEMPERATURES – PROPAGATE EVERYTHING THAT GOES INTO THE CUT GARDEN, NURTURING LETTUCES, SOFT FRUITS, BRASSICAS, SQUASH AND A VARIETY OF SPECIES OF TOMATOES, AS WELL AS PROVIDING FOR YEAR-ROUND FRESH FLOWERS INCLUDING NARCISSI, TULIPS, RANUNCULI, ROSES, DELPHINIUMS, GRASSES, BERRIES, AND VARIOUS EDIBLE BLOSSOMS SURROUNDED BY A LIVING HEDGE OF HAWTHORNS, MULBERRIES AND BLACKBERRIES. EVERYTHING GROWN ON THE FARM FORMS THE BASIS OF THE ROOT-TO-PLATE FEASTS SERVED AT THE TABLE AND USED FOR THE FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE.

THE FARM CAPTURES THE ESSENCE OF OUR APPROACH – STARTING WITH GOOD CLEAN SOIL, STANDING FOR SOMETHING PLANET-POSITIVE AND JOYFUL, AND GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY AND THE PLANET.

Woodlands1

Woodlands2

5. THE WOODLANDS

IN 1865, WILLIAM WILDSMITH WAS BROUGHT TO HECKFIELD PLACE AS A FOREMAN AND BECAME HEAD GARDENER IN 1867, AND HIS LEGACY PREVAILS TODAY. WE ARE PROUD TO BE HOME TO ANCIENT WOODLANDS, WHICH ARE ALSO KEPT IN GOOD COMPANY WITH MORE THAN 100 DIFFERENT SPECIES OF FUNGI AND PROVIDE NATURAL HABITAT FOR INDIGENOUS WILDLIFE. WILDSMITH INGENIOUSLY CHOREOGRAPHED THE GROUNDS AROUND THE HOUSE ADDING NEW PLANTING TO ANCIENT CHESTNUT, LIME AND YEW TREE LANDSCAPE, WHICH BECAME A CELEBRATED ARBORETUM IN HIS DAY, ATTRACTING CROWDS WHEN THE GARDENS OPENED TO THE PUBLIC IN THE 1880S.

TODAY WE ARE PROTECTING HIS LEGACY, BY MANAGING THE WOODLAND, SUPPORTING THE ANCIENT TREES AND GRAFTING THOSE TREES SO THEY CAN BE ENJOYED IN ANOTHER 150 YEARS.

IN OUR OWN BIODYNAMIC NURSERY, OUR ARBORISTS CLONE OUR TREES WITH SEVERAL HUNDRED SEEDLINGS AND TRANSPLANTS TO REPLENISH OUR AGEING ONES. THE PLAN IS TO SUCCESSION PLANT OUR SPECIMEN TREES WITH THEIR OFFSPRING TO CONTINUE THE WORK OF OUR PREDECESSORS AND INCREASE THE LONGEVITY OF THE WOODLANDS ON THE ESTATE. WE HAVE COLLECTED SEEDS FROM OUR MAGNIFICENT TREES ON THE ESTATE INCLUDING A GIANT REDWOOD, DOUGLAS FIR, NORDMANN FIR, MONTEREY PINE, JAPANESE CEDAR AND ENGLISH OAK TO NAME A FEW. WITH MANY OF THEM MORE THAN 150 YEARS OLD, THEY ARE GENETICALLY STRONG AND RESILIENT TO PESTS AND DISEASE, AND WILL HOPEFULLY HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO ADAPT TO THE EVER-CHANGING ENVIRONMENT AND PASS THEIR INDIVIDUAL SURVIVAL KNOWLEDGE TO THEIR OFFSPRING. PLANTING HUNDREDS AND HOPEFULLY THOUSANDS OF TREES WILL ALSO HELP SEQUESTER TONNES OF CARBON.

Sheep
Woodland
Grassland
Pigs (1)
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6. HOME

HECKFIELD IS WHERE HOME, FOOD, COMPANY AND PHILOSOPHY COEXIST SEAMLESSLY. A PLACE OF ESCAPE, AND A MOVEMENT CALLING US TO COME TOGETHER. WE ARE HONOURED TO CONTINUE THE CUSTODIANSHIP OF THIS UNIQUE AND REMARKABLE PLACE, WHICH ASKS US TO CONSIDER OUR IMPACT, AND OPEN OUR EYES TO BETTER, MORE NATURAL WAYS OF LIVING AND BEING.

Begins With Soil ;
Heckfield In Numbers 1A

Heckfield In Numbers 1B

Heckfield In Numbers 2A

Heckfield In Numbers 2B

Heckfield In Numbers 3A

Heckfield In Numbers 3B

HECKFIELD’S TARGET

1.
CREATION OF AN
OFF-GRID COMMUNITY
OF 'TINY HOUSES'


2.
A WINDMILL ON
THE MARKET GARDEN


3.
SOLAR ROOF TILES
TO FUEL ENERGY

House Grounds House Grid 1