Looking after our history
There is something about an English historic house that captures our imagination. We are steeped in heritage in the UK and we love our costume dramas that give us a glimpse of life in Jacobean or Elizabethan England. But running these stately homes is an expensive business. Over the last two centuries almost half of our 5000 historic houses have been knocked down, primarily after taxes rose and land rents dropped, leaving owners little choice but to sell off land. This wasn’t helped by the requisitioning of these large homes during the war for military purposes, and when they were handed back, they were often irreparable.
Luckily for us and these historic landmarks, the families who own these estates are usually highly entrepreneurial in exploiting the opportunities these estates offer. The Grange Hampshire is one such beacon, putting innovative agri-farming, artisanal manufacturing, cultural innovation and experiential self-discovery at the centre of their arcadian vision for their business.
An “unstuffy” environment
The Grange estate came into the hands of the Baring family in 1817 and is now an 8th Generation family business, currently run by Mark Baring. The estate has been in and out of the family’s hands during the 20th century for various reasons, recently bought back in the 1960s and saved by an English Heritage order as a Scheduled Monument due to its neo-Classical significance. It is particularly notable for the beautiful portico on the front of the building – the obvious setting for the renowned annual Opera festival which is now in its 22nd year.
Like a swan, the estate works very hard behind the scenes to provide a serenity in which guests can relax and unwind. At its core is the House, surrounded by 3500 acres of chalk fishing streams, meadows and woodland, as well as a vineyard, an equestrian centre, a farmhouse and cottages for overnight stays. As with many of our stately homes, it has entertained royalty in its past, but now is at the disposal of visitors and guests to create whatever illusion or vision they want – weddings, films, corporate events, surprise parties, and business workshops all happen here regularly. With a thriving catering business providing locally-sourced feasts for any of the events, award winning wine from the vineyard, game from the shoot, not to mention a model farm growing vegetables, the estate is striving for responsible sustainability.
Mark and Sophie Baring see themselves as stewards of the Estate and recently they were joined by ninth generation family member Fred, Mark’s son, to take on the next stage of its evolution. Passionate about the environment, Fred is experimenting with land management through crop rotation and bio diversity by ensuring a myriad of species into water meadows. Here the ambition is for guests to live cheek by jowl with – and even help develop – their natural environment.
It’s great to work with Moore Barlow – they are evolving like we are. It feels as if there is a thread that runs right the way through Moore Barlow ensuring everyone we work with is engaged and attuned to our needs. It has an entrepreneurial heart and soul.The Grange Hampshire
A new vision for the next generation
Moore Barlow has worked alongside the family and their teams for many years, helping them to run their business and achieve their arcadian vision. Sophie describes the firm as having “an affinity with business owners who are ambitious to grow and take advantage of opportunities. We value their knowledge of us and how important relationships are to us and to the business”. The firm not only advises on estate and property management, employment and governance, but also has benefitted from Sophie’s facilitation and leadership coaching skills (acquired after 25 years in management consultancy) running strategy sessions within the estate’s event space, as it develops its vision as a newly merged firm.
With many family-owned businesses, it’s hard to completely separate the business from the family running it, especially when you live on site. “Being disciplined around structure, roles and purpose is mission critical for dynamic family businesses on a growth trajectory”, Sophie explains. The estate now has a strong business plan and vision, built around the estate partnerships that they see as key to their future success. “Because the focus is all about creating this hidden idyll, the service we offer has to be really seamless and exceptional. That can only be delivered by our people and their commitment to it”.