Whipley Manor Farm is a 300 acre estate nestled in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has been family-owned since 1920. The farm currently produces cereal crops and meadow hay. We have diversified to create a vibrant complex of retail businesses within our traditional farmyard comprising of our animal feed store, a wine shop, florist, café, farm shop, deli and photographic gallery to name a few. Our aim is to build a community of like-minded businesses that work together to create an inspiring destination for people to visit and enjoy.
We are very proud that our family have been caring for Whipley Manor Farm for five generations and hope that it continues for many more to come.
Whipley Manor Farm is a 300 acre estate which has been a family-owned since 1920 and previously, since the Napoleonic wars, the family had rented a 250 acre farm a few miles down the road. WMF was originally run as a mixed farm and grew wheat, barley and oats with a herd of beef cattle run over grassland and a dairy cow to provide the family with fresh milk.
During the early 50s pedigree Large White pigs were introduced to the farm. The herd was in the top 20 nucleus (bloodline) of breeding herds in the country. They were exported around the world to improve existing herds and sold at the old Guildford market.
Later in the 60s, a flock of 200 Suffolk sheep was added which were also taken to the local market on a regular basis. Over time the flock grew to 400 lambing ewes. The sheep provided the “golden hoof” to aid the nutrient content in the soil and this practice is continued today.
The farming business started diversifying from classic mixed agriculture in the 80s when we established the Animal Feed Store to supply neighbours their farm animal, equine and pet feed. As demand increased the farm opened a much larger feed store, which has grown significantly and is today a thriving business and has become a major supplier of equine and small holder feeds. We started converting barns during the 80s as commercial lets and slowly over the past few decades the number of small businesses running from the farm has steadily increased and we now have over a dozen which comprises a vibrant community of rural businesses.
Throughout the years we have continued to grow winter cereal crops on rotation which still include wheat, barley and oats but we also produce oilseed rape and fodder beans. We are now farming a little over 400 acres of which 200 acres is down to cereal production, 150 acres in grassland producing hay and the remainder is woodland. Most of our produce is sold directly to UK grain merchants but we sell some of our own bagged wheat and conventional bales of hay and straw through the Animal Feed Store.
We are excited to be working with one of our tenants (Silverback®) for the launch of our rebrand which includes this website. We are also creating smart road-front signage and internal estate signage.
An exciting new addition to our community is a long-awaited café which will operate from the North Barn in the courtyard. There will be indoor and outdoor terraced seating serving delicious meals, snacks and drinks. It is called Madding Café run by the very talented chef David Barber.
Short term, our next major project is the conversion of the Listed Barn which is a beautiful 600 year old traditional oak framed structure. The barn will mirror the East Barn occupied by Taurus Wines and we hope it to become a yoga and wellness centre which will certainly complement the existing businesses.
Our long-term goal is to replace the current Animal Feed Store with a larger, purpose built facility to accommodate our customers’ needs. The new store will have mezzanine floors and will be able to further expand it’s product range. The position of the building will move towards our existing grain store and warehouse to enable articulated lorry deliveries to unload behind the shop creating an improved flow of traffic around the yard.
We are proud that our family have been caring for Whipley Manor Farm for five generations and hope that it continues for many more to come.
We are extremely passionate about all aspects of conservation at Whipley Manor Farm. We strive to enhance habitat biodiversity as much as possible by maintaining woodlands, hedgerows, field margins, wetlands and the traditional farm buildings.
The woodlands are within a management plan and work has taken place to re-plant after any harvest or thinning. Sweet Chestnut is coppiced and processed in a traditional manner which we use for our own post and rail fencing. Most of our woodland is considered ancient and boasts a fabulous mix of woodland flowers such as orchids, primroses, anemones, fox gloves and bluebells. We have mounted dormouse boxes to encourage their population.
There are over 20 fields on the farm and only 3 are what we consider large, ranging between 25 to 40 acres. The rest are much smaller and are all surrounded by hedgerows which are cut on a bi-annual basis during the middle of winter; half of the farm hedges are cut one year and the other half the following year which minimizes any disturbance to wildlife and increases the length of time winter berries are available.
We have over 6 miles of hedges which are fantastic habitats for small mammals such as stoats and weasels, shrews, voles, dormice and field mice. They also hold a strong array of song and farmland birds such as wrens, robins, sparrows, thrushes, blackbirds and chaffinches to name a few and host a wide variety of beetles and bugs. The hedges are an essential wildlife corridor connecting woodlands and creating passage across our landscape.
We have dedicated feeding stations around the farm which are in place for supplementary winter feeding for small farmland birds and are working really well.
All of our fields have grassland margins and we have planted over 17 acres in flower enriched grassland, wild bird seed and pollen and nectar producing plots which are abundant with bees and butterflies and many different birds which forage for seed during the winter months. The plots also act as excellent cover crops and are all located adjacent to woodlands. We will often see owls hunting at dusk and dawn close to those areas.
We often see rabbits, foxes, badgers and roe deer across the farm and above it, there are regular sightings of kestrels and hawks, buzzards, kites, barn, tawny and little owls. We have five barn owl boxes in oak trees spread around the farm and there are also boxes in the eaves of our hay and straw barns. At dusk and dawn we regularly see the barn owls flighting to and from them. Recently, a tawny owl box was placed in a large beech tree which we hope will be inhabited soon as most nights we can hear the tawnies calling to each other close to the box.
We have various ponds which attract all sort of wildlife including herons, duck, geese, moorhens and occasionally we are blessed with a kingfisher sighting. The ponds are great habitats for many amphibians including great crested newt and aquatic plants such as reeds, water lilies and watercress. An area of the farm includes a stretch of a tributary of the River Wey known as Cranleigh Waters and its flood plain which often attracts wildfowl and much floral biodiversity.
Some of our farm buildings are over 500 years old and are no longer fit for modern agricultural use being too small and so therefore became redundant. Over the past years, we have restored some of the ancient barns which are now beautifully preserved buildings used for retail. Whipley Manor Farm has consistently won conservation prizes over the past two decades amongst other farms in the area through local farming competitions. We will continue to enhance all aspects of conservation across the farm with the aim of being a rich and diverse ecosystem and a true example of how to care for our countryside alongside modern agricultural practices.