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 post-war 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 '70s, 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 has passed 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 a partnership rather than as a landlord and tenant.
The land is being managed so that it reverts to flower-rich meadows. 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.
There are three holiday cottages at Old Lands, all of which sit in or alongside the flowery yard to the west of the big house. Simple & cosy cottages, each with its own character, cotton bed linen, furnished with Welsh blankets and antique furniture from the big house.
We sell wholesome store-cupboard food in our small shop and should you like a break from cooking you can order hearty, homemade meals in advance.
Parents can award themselves a lie-in by booking a session for their children to build dens and muddy their wellies at the Forest School.
With 200 acres for you to roam, the resident naturalist Sam, who grew up here, takes nature walks by request. You might also like to pick up a pair of oars for a row around the island on the lake, or wander along the yew-tree walk and toss a ball on the old, well-loved tennis court. There’s a letterboxing trail, which is a good way to discover corners of the estate you might not otherwise venture to, and also numerous geocaches.
With the Wye, Usk and mountain lakes close by, we are well-placed for wild swimming. Angela Jones is an outdoor adventurer, wild swim specialist and kayaking guide with a deep passion for the natural world who can take you on an adventure, maybe it’ll be taking a dip in our lake when it’s iced over, or kayaking by the light of the harvest moon, she finds adventure wherever she goes.
The estate is 15 minutes from the Wye Valley and The Forest of Dean; the Black Mountains are 20 minutes in the other direction and as its border territory there are castles galore on the doorstep. For every holiday taken here, we will plant a tree as part of our parkland landscape restoration project. We do mid-week and weekly stays, also short & long weekend breaks. We also have two onsite electric car charging points.