In a quiet corner in the middle of Wiltshire lies the Fonthill Estate. Set in 9000 acres of traditional chalk downland, this landed Estate thrives as a modern, multifaceted business of arable, a stud farm, residential and commercial property. Fonthill makes the most of its assets through a combination of location and good management under Lord Margadale and resident agent, Simon Fowler.
The Estate lets offices to a broad range of companies, including eTen Architects and Guild Anderson Furniture. Lord Margadale describes how the Estate has developed since the first commercial unit was opened 20 years ago. ‘Most of the old farm buildings were no longer suited to modern agriculture and we needed to consider the future. First and foremost, we wanted to keep the Estate intact, hence the decision to develop this space for commercial tenants’.
The Estate has maintained some of the heritage of a traditional estate, providing employment for 250 people in a deeply rural area. Based in the old dairy, the Estate Office organises regular events for the 40 enterprises on the farm to meet each other as well as Lord and Lady Margadale. Future Fonthill Estate gatherings are planned for tenants in the 15th century Tithe Barn, currently undergoing restoration as a future venue for weddings and a farmers market. The sense of community is strong, even with the diversity of commerce represented on the Estate.
eTen Architect, Jonathan Nuth, welcomes the opportunities opened by getting together with fellow tenants. ‘It is a great way to meet other companies in the local area. We are all developing businesses so it can be invaluable to exchange ideas and experiences.’ Jonathan continues, ‘In our market, it is vital to recommend reliable, reputable, professionals to clients. Having met neighbouring designers Guild Anderson Furniture here and seen their quality of their work, I happily recommended them on two separate projects. What a client doesn’t need, is a design team to go off at a tangent. Guild Anderson talk sense, listen and offer constructive advice’.
Nick Anderson, Guild Anderson’s founder, echoes this. ‘Being introduced to Jonathan at eTen Architects and sharing a similar customer base, albeit from a different design perspective, has been very helpful. As we cover the same geographic area, I hope we will have the chance to work on more projects with Jonathan in the future. Being a part of the Fonthill Estate has brought a different dimension to our business, from helping us to find our feet at the beginning and showing understanding when times were hard, to teaming up on joint marketing ventures and work projects here with like-minded people’.
Both Jonathan and Nick comment on how well placed Fonthill is for easy access to customers in Bath and the South West via the A36 and nearby A303. Jonathan adds, ‘We are lucky to be based in such a beautiful location and to have a great road system on our doorstep’. Where these businesses are situated is not important in itself, but it certainly helps to differentiate a company like Guild Anderson, designing and creating furniture for the country house market. Their ‘Trunk Table’ design was inspired by the great trees on the Estate. Visitors cannot help but be touched by the area, the parkland, swans, lakes and welcoming Beckford Arms beyond the far archway of the Park.
Fonthill is clearly in good order, and far from the crumbling landed estates of 30 years ago.
The Estate business courtyard is never quiet though there is a calmness and gentlemanly manner in the air simply not found on an industrial estate in an inner city. Fonthill has certainly positioned itself as a rural business hub, but one that combines traditional, old-fashioned good manners with a professional, energetic and modern pace.
Fonthill Estate Office, T: 01747 820246/ www.fonthill.co.uk
Jonathan Nuth, eTen Architects: T: 01747 440444 / www.e10architects.co.uk