The history of the farm

Manor Farm, Broad Chalke is situated in the heart of the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Down Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and extends across 300 acres of the beautiful and ancient landscape of the Chalke Valley.


Manor Farm today owned and run as a family business by Richard & Katie Jowett. The farm is the remnants of a holding that once extended to in excess of 2000 acres and until 1936 formed part of the Wilton Estate, owned by the Earls of Pembroke. It was leased in the 1600’s to the family of the fascinating antiquarian John Aubrey, who documented a great deal about the farm and the local area, particularly in his book ‘A Natural History of Wiltshire’. Here he describes the village and local landscape in detail and many features and field names are still recognisable today.

Richard’s grandfather, Donald Hicks became the third owner of Manor Farm in 1950 and thanks to his foresight the farm was left largely as permanent pasture, in a time when any flat or fertile land generally went under the plough. This legacy has allowed us to build on the natural fertility and diversity that has accumulated over the years and to pursue our dream of producing food in a sustainable and holistic way.


After 8 years of learning and working to bring things in line with our way of thinking, we are now looking forward to see how we can improve on our progress and increase the productivity of the farm while still pressing forward with our programme of enhancing the natural capital of the holding for the future.

Our first thought is to re-introduce cows as their way of grazing (pulling rather than the munching of sheep) alters the way a downland sward is depleted of grass and allows flowering plants to thrive.  To this end we are currently looking to buying a few Hereford heifers with the aim of building up a small suckler herd.

In order to accommodate this increased grazing burden we are considering reverting/rotating some of the remaining arable land into herbal leys, which will provide over winter forage to fatten lambs and calves as well as providing increased carbon sequestration. This process should also stabilise and improve the arable soil.

We are also keen to carry on with improvements to the various copses planted by Donald Hicks in the 1950’s, these are now mature and provide a wonderful natural resource for wildlife. However, to maintain their longevity they need thinning and a programme of successional planting of both new trees and under storey is essential to maintain their wildlife and landscape value.

There is a lot to do and we are looking forward with enthusiasm and hope that we will continue to produce food with care and love for both our animals and our beautiful piece of England.