Alongside the valuable Foundation work that the Barker-Mill family and their Trustees promote each year, the family strives to ensure its land and assets give something back to the community. Below is just a selection of where the family has either donated, used or leased its land for community gain
In 1978 Langley Farm, now known as Longdown Activity Farm, was taken on by the Barker-Mill family. The farm had been neglected and took two years to rebuild. In 1980, the Deerleep herd started milking at Longdown and in 1985, it was opened to the public to educate people about life on a working farm as by this point, other animals including pigs, goats, sheep, poultry and rabbits had been introduced.
The farm has developed since then with Barker-Mill letting the land to Longdown Activity Farm which provides fun for the whole family with hands-on activities including bottle-feeding kid goats and calves – and ducks. Plus there are lots of other friendly animals to meet too!
Today a wildlife park featuring a collection of indigenous species in their natural surroundings, the park had once begun as a Butterfly Farm. Opened in 1981, it was a daring venture since at that time there were no other live butterfly exhibits in Britain. Featuring a 6,000 sq.ft glasshouse, dragonfly ponds, nature trail, farm shop and restaurant; it became immensely popular and visitors flocked to see the butterflies.
Expanding on the original Butterfly Farm, the land is now home to the New Forest Wildlife Park with over 20 different mammals, eight varieties of owls and a conversation programme. The family run business who rent the land from The Barker-Mill Estates, attracts visitors from across the county and beyond.
The Testwood and Nursling fishery and surrounding land is part of the Barker-Mill private estate which has been owned by the family since 1527. On the lower reaches of the picturesque and world-famous River Test, the estate water divides into three beats prior to flowing into the sea, which offers sea and brown trout and Atlantic salmon fishing. Under long term stewardship of Little River Management, the experienced fishery managers of this historic and environmentally important natural resource, are fully committed to creating a sustainable, first class fishing experience.
The Lower Test Nature Reserve in Test Valley, situated on land owned by Barker-Mill Estates, is managed by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
An impressive 400 acres (162 hectares) of beautifully preserved land, it includes saltmarshes, reedbeds march and meadows that have remained unspoiled for many years. Over 450 species of plant and wildflower have been recorded at the reserve including Green-Winged Orchids and an Adder’s Tongue Fern, which are extremely scarce, and eight different species of Buttercup. Wildlife includes Orange-Tip butterflies feeding on the Cuckoo Flower, and a range of song birds.
© Photo by Martin Ellis
For many years, Barker-Mill Estates leased land for part of Southampton Football Club’s training ground at Marchwood. Since then this land has been sold to the Club to enable their extensive, world-class academy.
The £40m training ground and its facilities are used by all age groups, with players starting at one end of the training ground in the under-eight team and graduating to the first team through the site.
In 2012 Barker-Mill Estates donated land to Colbury Parish Council to deliver new allotments for the community. There are different types and sizes of allotments depending on a person’s needs including a raised bed for the elderly and disabled, and a communal area for children to play and allotment holders to relax.
Provision of land in Nursling also enabled the parish council to offer 35 allotments to the community.
Barker-Mill Estates made land available and worked with the New Forest National Park, Marchwood Parish Council and various community groups to launch the Marchwood to Totton Cycle Route to create a much-needed cycle path.
There was a local requirement to provide a safe alternative transport link for cyclists between Marchwood and Totton, and Barker-Mill Estates was pleased to provide the land to make this a reality. The 2-kilometre-long cycle path is set well away from heavy-vehicle traffic on Bury Road and is a welcome feature to both the residents of Marchwood and those who travel to work. Today, it is one of the most heavily used cycle paths in the New Forest.
With a generous £100,000 from Barker-Mill Estates and the Foundation, the community of Marchwood benefits from a combined community, Scout and Guide hall. Built by Longdown Building, the new facilities, located on the Lloyd Recreation Ground, replaced a dilapidated, damp and pre-fabricated 1950’s building.
Barker-Mill and Longdown Building has also supported the build of Colbury Scout centre and the scouts hut in Nursling.