Our work

Look out for a variety of birds, including egrets and peregrine falcons © Nigel Hester

Look out for a variety of birds, including egrets and peregrine falcons

What we do

Cottage conservation

Thatching

Thatching at Holnicote © Jim Elliott

Many of the cottages on the estate are thatched. The thatch needs to be replaced every few years.

We work alongside professional thatchers.

Lath and plaster

Lath © Nigel Hester

The buildings are conserved using a method called lath and plaster. This involves attaching laths, or narrow strips of wood, to the ceiling. The lime-based plaster is applied on top.

It takes days to dry, but using these natural materials lets the walls breathe.

Wonderful windows

Windows of different shapes and sizes © Nigel Hester

Geoff our carpenter uses traditional joinery methods to create different shaped and sized windows for the cottages.

Geoff uses some tools that are over 100 years old, as they still do the job perfectly.

The building team

Selworthy village has pretty thatched cottages set around a village green

Many of the cottages on the estate are listed. It's vital that we continue to use traditional methods to conserve them. Our building team modernise them to make them lovely places to live, while conserving their history.

Nature conservation

  • Exmoor pony © Nigel Hester

    Moorland grazing

    The moorland is grazed by sheep, cattle and Exmoor ponies. Their constant nibbling is the natural version of a lawn mower. It's a vital part of maintaining the open, wild landscape of the moor.

    Without it, the land would revert back to scrub and woodland.

  • Holnicote Ewe © Nigel Hester

    Woodland grazing

    Horner Wood is traditionally grazed by sheep and red deer. By eating the young shrubs, they keep the woodland light and airy, ensuring that rare lichens on the ancient tree trunks don't get shaded out.

  • Managed Burning on Exmoor © Nigel Hester

    Swaling

    We burn different patches of heather and gorse each year, so there's always a mix of habitats for a wide range of wildlife. This process is called swaling.

    Some insects will only thrive in short grass, while most upland birds need older heather for nesting.

  • Fallen tree © Paul Wakefield

    Sometimes we do nothing

    In the woodlands, we leave dead wood where it falls, to provide homes and food for insects. The insects are then a tasty meal for birds, bats and other mammals.

    Dead wood encourages the growth of fungi. More than 440 kinds grow on the estate. 

  • Salt marsh © Ross Hoddinott

    Coastal management

    In the past, attempts have been made to prevent the sea from breaching the shingle ridge around Porlock Bay.

    When the beach was breached by a ferocious storm in 1996, it led to the creation of a precious saltmarsh. The site has become a nationally important example of how we can work with nature.

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