Country houses for sale

A sprawling rural estate that is up for sale for the first time in more than 100 years — with over 1,700 acres on offer and a £50 million price tag

Penny Churchill takes a look at the prestigious Exning Estate near Newmarket, famed for its equine history and multiple farming, residential and renewable channels.

The sale of the prestigious 1,776-acre Exning Estate at Exning, 2 miles north of Newmarket on the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border, represents a unique opportunity to acquire, for the first time in more than 100 years, ‘an outstanding multi-faceted rural estate’, says Alex Lawson of selling agents Savills, who quotes a guide price of £50 million for the estate as a whole, or in 18 individual lots.

The sale follows the death last year, at the age of 94, of the estate’s sporting owner, Simon Gibson, who was known throughout the area as a passionate supporter of racing and a generous benefactor of innumerable good causes through the charity he established in 1975 —among them the East Anglian Air Ambulance, Ely Cathedral, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Gibson School of Music at King’s School, Ely.

He also led the funding for TheNewmarket Stallion, a landmark 15ft-high statue by Lady Marcia Astor that stands on the roundabout near the town’s July Course, which he unveiled in 2000.

The Exning Estate was acquired in 1919 by Mr Gibson’s great-uncle, William James Tatum, later Lord Glanely, a ship owner from Cardiff who made his fortune shipping Welsh coal to Italy and bringing grain back to Europe via the Black Sea ports.

A lifelong lover of the sport of kings, he bought the estate to house his stable of racing and breeding stock—among them his 1919 Derby winner, Grand Parade, which is buried in the grounds. Lord Glanely was killed in the Second World War leaving no surviving heir, whereupon the estate passed to the Gibson family.

Over the years, the Exning Estate has evolved into a dynamic country estate with an impressive mix of farming, residential, equestrian, renewable and commercial assets. The residential portfolio includes a total of 61 houses let on a variety of tenancy agreements, producing a total rental income of £536,000 a year.

The principal house, now in need of some updating, is the 8000sq ft Landwade Hall, a mainly 20th-century building incorporating parts of a post-medieval manor house with a Grade II-listed, 15th-century barn, a private church, a farmhouse, cottages and farm buildings, the whole set in 257 acres of gardens, beautifully-fenced parkland, paddocks and woodland—on offer at a guide price of £8 million.

The estate, which is farmed in-hand, comprises 1,000 acres growing wheat, barley, oilseed rape and sugar beet with farm houses, buildings and storage at the 663-acre Gravel Pit Farm (guide price £9m) and the 213-acre Grass Plant Farm, an arable unit with farm buildings and two cottages, on offer at £2.6 m. A beef enterprise at Landwade farm comprises a suckler herd of 120 cows and followers.

The woodland and shelter belts on the estate, along with strategically planted game covers, form the basis of a locally-renowned mixed lowland shoot.

A diverse commercial portfolio, generating a gross rental income of around £1.172m, includes the site of the world-famous Rossdales Equine Hospital; three let studs and a DIY livery business; a 155-acre solar farm; industrial lettings of former aircraft hangars; retail property in Newmarket; plus garages, sports pitches and telecoms masts. The estate is available either as a going concern or as a sale of the property assets owned by the Exning Estate Company Limited.

Mr Gibson was a man of many interests, but racing was undoubtedly his great love.

Having inherited not only his great-uncle’s estate and business acumen, but also his famous racing colours, he saw success on the racecourse with horses trained at James Fanshawe’s Pegasus stables in Newmarket, the best of which was Society Rock, a winner at three, four, five and six years, at Ascot, Royal Ascot, Haydock and York, before retiring to stud in Ireland in 2013.

The Exning Estate is currently on the market via Savills with a guide price of £50 million — see more pictures or enquire with the agent for further details. 

Exning: What you need to know

Location: On the Suffolk/Cambridge border, roughly 12 miles from Cambridge and just 2 miles from Newmarket.

Atmosphere: The village is home to the Exning Cricket Club, a hotel and several pubs. Newmarket offers further day-to-day amenities.

Things to do: Neighbouring Newmarket has long been considered as one of the top international headquarters of thoroughbred horse racing and breeding, with the Newmarket Racecourse drawing in crowds every year. Cambridge offers a variety of shops, restaurants plus cultural and historical connections.

Schools: Exning Primary School is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and the Paddocks Primary School and Laureate Community Academy are rated ‘good.’

See more property for sale in the area.

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