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Our History

The Countryside Restoration Trust was established in 1993 by the Chairman, Robin Page and the late artist and conservationist, Gordon Beningfield.

Launched in response to growing fears about intensive and industrialised farming, the CRT initially aimed to purchase land which had been intensively farmed, in order to restore it to a living countryside, rather than a lifeless food factory. As the CRT has grown its aims have broadened to encompass purchasing farmland and woodland where traditional farming methods, wildlife habitat and biodiversity are under threat.

The CRT promotes a working countryside using sensitive and sympathetic farming practices that encourage and protect wildlife to produce quality food.

Why Support Us

We all have a responsibility to look after our environment which is composed of innumerable complex and interlinking systems of flora and fauna that together maintain an essential balance.

Over the years much damage has occurred to our countryside and farming, with large areas of ordinary countryside and familiar species disappearing. We want to put a stop to this.

We believe that conservation should not be concentrated on preserving ‘islands’ of specialist habitats and endangered species in nature reserves.

The Countryside Restoration Trust is dedicated to restoring and protecting the wider countryside and its wildlife. Our aim is for conservation improvements to be carried out alongside practical farming and land management and to spread these aims by example and education.

CRT Timeline


Public Launch

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Public launch of the Countryside Restoration Trust. Sir Laurens van der Post accepts role of Patron. Purchase of Telegraph Field in Barton, Cambridgeshire (22 acres).

Planting of Hedge

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Planting of hedge in Telegraph Field and first Open Days at Barton.

Purchase of Holt Field

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Purchase of Holt Field. Land now totals 40 acres. Donation from Her Majesty the Queen and a visit by Prince Charles.

Purchase of Warner’s Corner

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Purchase of Warner’s Corner (50 acres) from Mr Mervyn Page (Robin’s father) at a hugely discounted price.

Lark Rise Farm Appeal

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Lark Rise Farm Appeal reaches £200,000. Sir Laurens van der Post sadly dies.

Purchase of 140 acres at Barton

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Purchase of 140 acres at Barton with the aid of Heritage Lottery Fund. Lark Rise Farm is formed.

Nan Major leaves CRT £120,000

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Nan Major leaves CRT £120,000 in her Will. Her ashes are spread on Lark Rise Farm. First harvest for Lark Rise Farm on Nan’s Field.

David Powell gifts Awnells Farm

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David Powell gifts Awnells Farm, Herefordshire (220 acres). Mary Thorley gifts Buxted, Sussex (5 acres). David Shepherd agrees to be Patron.

Duncan Elliot gifts Margaret Wood

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Duncan Elliot gifts Margaret Wood, Yorkshire (32 acres). Purchase of Westfield (120 acres) extends Lark Rise Farm.

Robin Page completes Butterfly Safari

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Robin Page completes Butterfly Safari raising over £10,000 for The Gordon Beningfield Memorial Appeal.

Purchase of Turnastone Court Farm

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Purchase of Turnastone Court Farm, Herefordshire (247 acres). Star-studded CRT Tenth Anniversary Celebration at The Royal Institution of Great Britain.

Greta McDonough gifts 40 acres

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Greta McDonough gifts Mayfields Farm, Norfolk (40 acres). Gerald Sanctuary gifts Harold’s Grove (8.5 acres). Prince Charles visits Lark Rise Farm again.

Jason Martin gifts 12 acres

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Jason Martin gifts land at Bicker, Lincolnshire (12 acres).

Jo Baker gifts 200 acres

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Jo Baker gifts Pierrepont Farm, Surrey (200 acres).

John Broadbent-Jones gifts 200 acres

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John Broadbent-Jones gifts Green Farm, Churt, Surrey (200 acres).

Purchase of Tinker's Field

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Purchase of Tinker's Field, Cambridge (30 acres) which borders Lark Rise Farm on three sides.

Greta McDonough purchases a house

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Greta McDonough purchases a house for the CRT near Mayfields, enabling the appointment of a tenant. Signed walks at Lark Rise Farm are put in place.

New state-of-the-art dairy built

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A new state-of-the-art dairy built at Pierrepont Farm.

Margaret Wood pond created

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Pond created to mark the 10 year anniversary since Margaret Wood gifted to the Trust. Tit Brook Meadow celebrated its twentieth year since planted as a ‘traditional hay meadow’. Bourn Free project launched, which aims to clear the Bourn Brook, Cambridge, of mink and so help protect water voles.

Red squirrel enclosure opened

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Red squirrel enclosure opened at Mayfields.

Alison Mountain gifts Twyford Farm

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Alison Mountain gifts Twyford Farm, West Sussex (220 acres). Star-studded CRT 20th Anniversary Celebration at The Royal Institution of Great Britain.

Old Dairy Redeveloped

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Redevelopment of Old Dairy at Pierrepont commenced.

Eric Standen gifts Yarwell

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Eric Standen gifts Yarwell (34 acres).

Red Squirrels Rehomed

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Red squirrels re-homed to Tresco island, with the help of the RAF! Frensham Brewery at Pierrepont opens.

Re-launch of Dorset Appeal

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Re-launch of Gordon Beningfield Dorset Farm Appeal.

Babers Farm Purchased/Gifted

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Babers Farm part purchased/gifted. Redevelopment of Barn at Turnastone commenced.

25th Anniversary weekend

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25th Anniversary weekend held at Lark Rise Farm.

Phase 3 Pierrepont

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Phase three of Pierrepont redevelopment commences.

Education Centre & Lodge

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Opening of Turnastone Education Centre and Lodge

40th National Hedgelaying Champs

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40th Anniversary National Hedgelaying Championships at Lark Rise Farm.

CRT attends Countryfile Live

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CRT attends the Countryfile Live event at Blenheim Palace and the Dorset Oak Fair, Sturminster Newton

RGS 25th Anniversary Celebration

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25th Anniversary Celebration at the Royal Geographical Society.

Expenditure 2016/17

Total Expenditure 618,842 (in pounds sterling)


Costs of Generating Voluntary Income

25%

Fundraising Events

8%

Investment Management Costs

5%

Farm and Land Management

39%

Conservation

9%

Education

8%

Other

6%

Income 2016/17

Total Income 3,128,849 (in pounds sterling)


Legacies

63%

Investment Income

5%

Charitable Activities

5.5%

Fundraising Events

0.25%

Friends

3%

Donations

25%

Who We Are

Patrons

  •    David Bellamy – A key figure in raising the profile of environmental issues throughout the world
  •    Sir Jonathan Porritt – Environmentalist and latterly a government advisor on sustainable development
  •    Brian Jackman – Writer, journalist and conservationist based in Dorset
  •    Dame Judi Dench – Patron of the Gordon Beningfield Dorset Farm Appeal, Silver Jubilee Patron

Trustees

A board of Trustees, made up of volunteers, manages the Trust.

  •   Robin Page (Chairman) – Author, farmer and conservationist.
  •   Nicholas Watts MBE (Vice Chair) – Farmer, entrepreneur, owner of Vine House Farm, the largest grower/seller of bird seed in the UK.
  •   William Cross (Trustee) – Farmer
  •   Mark Rose (Trustee) – CEO, Fauna & Flora International
  •   Graham Girling (Trustee) – Retired engineer
  •   Chris Knights (Trustee) – Norfolk farmer and wildlife photographer.
  •    Zac Goldsmith (Trustee) – Politician and journalist.
  •    Annabella Evans (Trustee) – Solicitor specialising in agricultural property law
  •   David Mills (Trustee) – Conservationist