Ampleforth Abbey puts hundreds of acres of its estate land in 'Yorkshire's secret valley' up for sale for £3million
The monastery in North Yorkshire is known for its location in a beautiful hidden valley, but in recent years the trust that runs the Benedictine abbey has been disposing of a number of assets.
The order has been based in the Ampleforth Valley since 1802, when the fathers were expelled from France. One of their members had been chaplain to the Fairfax family, major Catholic landowners whose seat was at nearby Gilling Castle, and the abbey developed from the home they had built for him, Ampleforth Lodge. The boarding school Ampleforth College grew at the site, and the monks ended up owning a large amount of former Fairfax holdings, including Gilling Castle, which became a prep school. Other tracts of land in the village were gradually acquired by the order and in recent decades rented to tenant farmers.
Now almost 400 acres of land have been marketed for sale with agents Cundalls, and are expected to fetch up to £3million at auction.
Most of the lots are in the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and are a mixture of arable farmland, grassland and woodland. They include a pig farm that is currently leased out on a business tenancy until 2027.
The 'rare opportunity’ includes a farmstead with modern buildings and large yard near the villages of Ampleforth and Gilling East. The lots can be purchased as a whole or separately. The cheapest is a 27-acre wood available for £95,000. The farm is the most expensive at £1.75million.
A spokesman for Ampleforth Abbey said: “As part of the implementation of a strategic plan for the Trust, the Abbey Trust and the monastic community are considering the future size and shape of the estate. The Abbey has not directly farmed its adjacent land for many years and, as part of its consideration of the stewardship of the charity’s assets, the decision was made in October 2021 to sell a portion of farmland to the then longstanding farm tenant with whom it had worked for many years.
“Ampleforth Abbey Trust and the Ampleforth monastic community have recently taken the decision to sell further farmland and have engaged the services of Cundalls estate agents to manage the sale.”
Earlier this year the Abbey trustees sold 16th-century, Grade I-listed Gilling Castle, which had been empty since the closure of St Martin’s School in 2018, to development company Stonehouse Properties, who plan to convert the site into retirement apartments. The sale came after a plan to turn the complex, which includes a golf course and other sports facilities, into a holiday activity camp failed to gain planning consent.
Last year hundreds of acres of farmland were sold to animal feed tycoon Ian Mosey, a longstanding tenant, as the monks themselves had not worked it for a considerable amount of time.
In 2000 the Abbey sold its dairy herd, then one of the largest in Yorkshire, which had supplied milk and yoghurt to Ampleforth College. The monks still have an orchard and apple mill that produces cider for sale.
Final offers for the lots must be submitted by December 15.