Adding to the portraiture theme, here is another portrait from 2019 and my ongoing project (if you know of anyone within Waveney that would make provide an interesting social history of the area, please get in touch!)
Hugh Crossley of the Somerleyton Estate
“Somerleyton is a charming run of land between the Waveney river valley to the west and the North Sea to the east, the green lung and ‘nature sink’ for Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. My family followed the path of many northern industrialists down the East Coast in search of the healthier climes and appeal of then booming seaside resorts such as Great Yarmouth. The Crossleys had made their fortune as entrepreneurs of the industrial revolution, taking a small family company and turning it into a global brand – as the slogan went ‘you can’t get better than a Crossleys carpet’
If they were intent of spending their newly won fortune, they found the ideal candidate in Somerleyton Hall, a fabulously extravagant example of Jaco-Victorian architecture – a fine seventeenth century Jacobean manor house, bejewelled with towers and extensive new gardens in the mid nineteenth century by John Thomas, favourite sculptor of Prince Albert and William Andrews Nesfield, the celebrated Victorian garden designer.
I took over the management of the estate in 2005 and have focused on regenerative farming practices and restoring natural habitats as well as strengthening our tourism business at Fritton Lake. The Welsh black cattle seen here are a nod to my mother and our Welsh heritage but were bought in to replace our commercial herd. They do well on extensive naturalistic grazing systems and live as a herd outside all year around allowing them to fulfil their own natural processes, such as wallowing and self-medicating as well providing apex environmental services to the wider environment through their dung.
The virtuous circle of high welfare livestock, living natural outdoor lives, the crucial environmental services they yield living this way and the obvious benefit to us having healthy pasture fed meat to eat is under exploited and deserves to be at the forefront of Government, farmer and consumers’ minds if we are to restore the natural balance that agriculture especially since the 1970’s has, unwittingly or not, done so much to harm.
At Somerleyton we are committed to show casing that profitable farming can co-exist with nature restoration in the hope the other join, for if we farmers don’t work collaboratively on a landscape scale, all is lost. After the war it was justifiably our duty to never go hungry again, now it is our profound moral duty, without incentive or handouts, to restore nature to levels of super abundance for future generations of all species, not just our own”