Many people will hear ‘The Duchy of Cornwall’ and think it is some land Prince Charles has or an organic farm. But, The Duchy of Cornwall is much more than that. This is part two of a three part series that will bring insight to the Duchy and explain more of it’s purpose.
The Duchy is comprised of 53,154 hectares of land that spans 24 counties. Spanning from the Oval Cricket Ground in London to the Isles of Scilly, the Duchy‘s properties ranges from farms, gardens and workshops to newer developments such Poundbury.
What is unique and unknown to many is that across the Duchy, there are well over 270 ancient monuments that are maintained by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England (English Heritage).
There are over 270 ancient monuments recognised by the English Heritage throughout the Duchy. There are sixteen sites which include the castles of Restormel, Launceston and Tintagel that the Duchy and English Heritage share ‘Deeds of Guardianship’ with.
Fully invested in his passion and the benefits or organic farming, in 1986 Charles converted the Duchy Home Farm into a wholly organic farming system. Now 27 years later, the Home Farm has not only become a thriving and sustainable operating farm, but is looked at as a leader to show the advantages of an organic and ecological balanced way of agriculture.
Most are aware with the incarnation of Duchy Originals. It began in 1992 with the oaten biscuit made from the Home Farm’s organic oats. Now 21 years later, the business has grown in leaps and bounds – ranging from varietals of cheese to tea, from ale to furniture. In 2009, supermarket chain Waitrose partnered with Duchy Originals to stock their products. All profits from the Duchy Originals sales go directly into The Prince’s Charities Foundation.
Charles is also, Patron of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and has championed for years to preserve scare breeds that are indigenous to the United Kingdom. Many of the animals have been supplanted by mass breeding systems as well as foreign varieties of these animals. Some of the animals he is proud of being able to continue breeding are Cotswold and Hebridean sheep, Shetland, British White and Irish Moiled cattle and the Tamworth pig.
After many talks with sheep farmers who hit hard times and could not sell their mature sheep, Charles became keen on helping to bring back mutton as source of meat for mealtimes. He introduced the Mutton Renaissance campaign, to bring awareness to the country. GMO-free mutton raised on the Home Farm is supplied to the Ritz in London ad Calcot Manor Hotel in Tetbury.
The Home Farm does not only deal in livestock and the organic food business, it is also helps around 140 local residents. The thriving vegetable box scheme is also run by the Home Farm. The idea behind the project was to afford various organic and locally grown produce to families. Even with just a mere plot of land, everyone is encourage to plant heritage seeds to keep the specific types of fruits and vegetables growing in the area.
Many are unaware that The Duchy of Cornwall operates a plant nursery at Lostwithiel, Cornwall and is part of Restormel and Penlyne, two of the Duchy’s original manors dating back to 1337.
Over 4,000 types of plants ranging from shrubs to trees to tropical and sub-tropical plants are available. The nursery is also home to a unique variety of specialised camellias, magnolias and fuchsias. A good many of the plants offered are grown at the nursery.
Begun in the 1970s the nursery has expanded to 6 hectares that include an office, shop and café located near the Restormel Castle. The castle is actually where the very first Duke of Cornwall, Edward the Black Prince celebrated Christmas in 1362. The land was once a slate quarry and utilised as a production site for trees during the 1960s. In 1974, plants began to be sold to the public. The nursery has become on the prime nurseries in the South West of England. During the summer and winter seasons, fairs take place as well as numerous festivals and plant shows.
This piece of course would not be complete without a bit of history of Highgrove. The “jewel in the crown,” according to the Duchy of Cornwall website, Highgrove house is the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall’s home. Located near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, Charles bought the home, garden and farm (know the Duchy Home Farm) in 1980.
Upon his purchase in 1980, Charles has tirelessly worked to renovate and rehab the surrounding gardens. Once a rather dull and mismatched smattering of plants and trees, the garden is now one of a vast array of plants, trees, shrubbery and the like.
“Throughout the process of developing a garden at Highgrove I have striven to create a physical reflection of what I feel at a much deeper level. Although I wanted each area of the garden to have its own atmosphere, I hoped that, when they were linked together, the different parts might create an integrated experience that would warm the heart, feed the soul and delight the eye,” Charles in his 2001 book, The Garden at Highgrove.
From the energy efficient programme used, the collection of rainwater to irrigate the garden, a recycling programme including the kitchen rubbish being composted down to the reed bed sewage system, Highgrove is a self-sufficient organically run estate.
The final part of this series will focus on the changes and schemes, Prince Charles has implemented the past 33 years as the owner of Highgrove.