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The estate’s characteristic mixture of enclosed grazing-land and pockets of traditional ancient woodland probably changed little between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. However in about 1870, extensive areas of oak and beech woods were planted, both to enhance Penn’s appeal as a shooting estate and to ensure a source of local supply of raw materials to the furniture industry of High Wycombe. During the latter part of the twentieth century, a number of the tenant farms on the estate were vacated and taken in hand, with smaller fields and paddocks being amalgamated. In the process, the agricultural emphasis shifted increasingly from livestock to arable cropping. Today, prominent stands of mature beechwoods, rolling fields and newly restored hedgerows combine to provide one of the most attractive areas of scenic beauty in South Buckinghamshire. The estate has been granted official ‘heritage’ status: its paths and bridleways are well used by walkers and horse riders. There is an abundance of wildlife interest.
As part of a five year working plan agreed with the Inland Revenue the estate has entered into two environmental schemes in recent years. Uncultivated field margins have been created for the benefit of flora and fauna. Hedgerows are continually being gapped up and new ones planted. The woodlands are managed, not just for commercial timber, but with consideration given to wildlife, conservation, amenities and its aesthetic impact. A hibernaculum for bats has been created, ponds cleared, and hedgerow trees planted to lessen the impact of the natural loss of mature hedgerow trees.
Whilst looking to retain its commercial approach to managing all its enterprises, Earl Howe’s overall aim is to enhance the appearance and character of this traditional rural estate for the benefit of his successors. It is hoped that, in so doing, he can add to the enjoyment of its many visitors, walkers and riders, and the local community.