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A Week on the Estate: New Buffs, Recycled Spirit & Looking Back

We’re making the best of life at South Ormsby Estate. A fine if sometimes bracing early spring is rewarding us with new life, new opportunities and plenty of hard work. We were also blessed with a magnificent array of golden daffodils at the Hall. Over the centuries, the Massingberd-Mundys planted many varieties and their legacy flowers for us every spring.


Our handsome Lincolnshire Buff chickens were pictured foraging in the Walled Garden on a fine, spring day. The Lincolnshire Buff is a variety of heavy, large fowl bred in large numbers on traditional farms in the county from the 1850s to the 1920s. When we helped the Lincolnshire Buff Poultry Society with its national census in the winter, our population stood at two hens, four pullets and two cockerels. If this week’s clutch of eggs is a guide, we may have some good news about the future of this heritage breed when the next census comes around.

Chris from The Woodyard of Tetford replaced some old fencing following recent ditch-works to improve drainage. While we’re making changes, we’ll take the opportunity to plant a new hedge along the bank top to act as a corridor for wildlife.


After months of painstaking craftsmanship, Gin Distillery Manager Tristan Jørgensen is preparing to share South Ormsby Estate’s bespoke, craft gins with aficionados of fine gins everywhere. The Burrell’s and Marie-Jeanne brands have been perfected, with the citrus tang, pleasing heat and locally sourced botanicals finely balanced. The gins will embody Tristan’s distilling wizardry and the values of the estate, not least of which is sustainability.


A typical distillation creates three cuts. The first 300-400ml is methanol, known as the heads. The next 2-4 hours of output produces the good stuff; the refined alcohol fit for fine gin and known as the hearts. In the final hours of the process, the output runs down from 60% to 0% proof, producing the tails.

Instead of wasting material and incurring disposal costs and transport miles, Tristan has chosen to re-refine the leftover liquid. The heads and tails can be rectified into flavourless, re-usable base spirit, starting at 25% and ending at 96% proof. This effort keeps the whole process lossless and sustainable.


To see how far we’ve come in a busy and exciting year on the estate, we’ve taken a look back at the first week of April 2019. Fencing was the first order of business; new fence posts were sunk by Richard Berry’s team using a vehicle called a track-post knocker. The thumping sound could be heard across the parkland. This allowed us to reinstall the eighteenth-century fencing, to support rabbit fencing and to protect newly planted trees.

The metal railings near the Massingberd Arms had their first coat of paint. The grey primer was acrylic, allowing it to expand and contract with changing temperatures. A final black coat would later restore the railings to their traditional appearance.


It was also ‘worm week’. Worms play a vital role in creating and irrigating good soil. We surveyed the estate’s worm distribution with a view to boosting the population in sparse areas and thereby enriching our soil.


On a tastier note, Housekeeper Jacqui Rhodes took leeks from the cleared and re-planted vegetable plot and turned them into a tasty leek-and-potato soup and a leek-and-cheese flan.