the old-lands story
Old-Lands is an old family estate in Monmouthshire run on traditionally green principles – slow to change and
careful of consequences – that has been in the Bosanquet family for 200 years. Three generations now live and work
in and around the estate. While we have no intention of winding back the clock, our family comes from a long line
of ecologists and naturalists whose experience taught them that, in the natural world, slow is beautiful.
The main house, a handsome building in red marly sandstone, was much altered by the Victorian generation who
made money in banking. The house was built to provide for a large family and staff – making change inevitable. The
pattern for modernisation was set by a frugal postwar generation who separated the two wings from the main house
for other families to live in, and kept the house and estate in good repair. They installed solar water-heating in the
70’s, planted a walled garden to keep the household self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit, kept bees to pollinate the
orchard and make honey, and had chickens to recycle leftovers and lay eggs.
Responsibility for the estate and its future is now passing to a new generation, at a time of hard choices and
decisions as to how an estate should exist in this century. We are neither able nor willing to manage the estate as
a profit-maximising enterprise. The lands have to produce enough to pay the costs of management and provide a
living for those engaged in what we see as partnership rather than as a landlord and tenant. Some of the land has
been taken on by the Gwent Wildlife Trust and is being managed so that it reverts to flower-rich meadow.
The walled garden has been taken on so that the once flowery garden has now been returned to vegetables.
It is also used as a place of education for children to learn about the natural world and food production.
The aim is to ensure that future generations benefit from our own good husbandry – just as we at Old-Lands have
benefited from the careful stewardship of previous generations – by slowing down the way we farm, restoring and
nurturing the land and its inhabitants, and looking for ways to put back more than we take out.