Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Rotary Club of Henley Bridge

THE amalgamation of the Culham Estate, Hambleden Estate and the deer park at Henley Park, Fawley,

THE amalgamation of the Culham Estate, Hambleden Estate and the deer park at Henley Park, Fawley, has resulted in a 4,000-acre private estate of incomparable beauty now known as Culden Faw.

With its valleys, ridges, chalklands, woods and farms, it is a quintessentially English landscape.

Estate manager Alex Dick spoke at a meeting of the club held at Badgemore Park Golf Club on Wednesday, September 28.

He told Rotarians and guests about the background to Culden Faw and of the work already done on improvements to its properties, woods and farms.

Hambleden village, purchased by Culden Faw in 2007 from Lord Hambleden, has been renovated following discussions with the National Trust and other conservation bodies. The Stag and Huntsman pub and the shop-cum-post-office have been refurbished to a high standard. as have the vernacular brick and flint houses and cottages.

A woodland lodge offers a venue for farm visits, weddings, shoots and filming.

People living in nearby towns and villages will recognise Hambleden from television shows and films such as Band of Brothers, Rosemary and Thyme, Sleepy Hollow, 101 Dalmatians and many more.

The estate has made sure that when the village is featured on film or on TV, as it often is, there are no 21st century giveaways, such as TV aerials or satellite dishes. The Fawley area hosts the Henley Show each year and the Tough Mudder mud and obstacle event, which attracts 20,000 entrants. There is also a stud farm.

A 20-year forestry plan has been designed to restore the ancient woodlands, to introduce new species and to thin out woods that have become overgrown. As a result, a firewood business is being developed to supply logs and kindling to local people.

Of particular note are the copses that have been planted at Henley Park to represent the flags of Switzerland and Australia, the birthplaces of the estate’s owners, Urs Schwarzenbach and his wife Francesca.

Culham Court has been refurbished and the garden has been redesigned and replanted.

The adjacent deer park is home to three varieties, including white fallow deer. A chapel consecrated to Christ the Redeemer has recently been built and will be available to local residents to visit.

Mr Dick was full of praise for the many talented craftsmen involved in its creation.

The Culden Faw Estate has also purchased the Windsor Belle, an Edwardian steam launch, and given it a refit before making it available for hire.

The Schwarzenbachs also own the 60,000-acre Loch Ericht estate in Scotland with its three- and five-star lodges offered as holiday lets.

Geoff Thomas thanked Mr Dick for a fascinating insight into the diverse work being done on the estate and thanked the estate for continuing to allow the club’s annual Henley half marathon to take place on its land.

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