Comprising some 3,200 acres of mostly arable land and woodland, the Gayton Estate is located about 6 miles East of King’s Lynn and the highest point is 300ft. above sea level. The Estate’s office is at Gayton Hall, which was built between 1803 and 1810 as a shooting box. The original Hall is just across the road and is now the farmhouse to Hall Farm. The Marsham family first rented the estate in 1879 when they moved from Kent.
The land varies in nature from medium loam, through organic mineral, to flint and sand over chalk: as the land rises towards the east, the lighter it becomes and the less it supports. The chalk is part of a twenty mile wide swathe stretching from the Yorkshire Wolds, through Lincolnshire, Norfolk and the northern Home Counties to Salisbury Plain, with spurs to the South Downs. There are 225 acres of amenity woodland which enhances the landscape and provides shelter for crops and wildlife. Part of the Estate is let: thirty years ago there were six tenant farmers, but now only three. The Estate still supports or houses 17 families, fewer and fewer of whom are directly involved in the land.
Gayton Estate provides land within the village at modest charges for local amenities such as the football ground, the bowling green and the cricket ground. There are over 12 miles of footpath, including four permissive footpaths, one bridleway and two permissive bridleways. The 20 acre Woodland Water Garden at the Hall is opened to the public on several occasions each year. The in-hand Hall Farm is partly organic and has three Countryside Stewardship Schemes, resulting in over 160 different parcels of managed farmland. Whilst these provide great benefit to flora and fauna, they still produce barley for brewing beer, wheat for baking bread and beet for sugar. The estate recognises the importance of wildlife and has won a number of awards for conservation.
The farm continues to grow even if maintaining profitability becomes more and more difficult. It is to be hoped that this little bit of England will continue to give employment to a few and enjoyment to many.
Alistair Beales – Farm Manager