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Afternoon Tea, Lincolnshire Life & Biomass Insights

South Ormsby’s week began in a highly civilised fashion. Estate staff enjoyed afternoon tea at The Old Rectory Guest House, with hostess Tanya providing a mouth-watering selection of sandwiches, home-made cake, macaroons and scones with cream and jam, washed down with plenty of tea and coffee.


Indoors and out, the estate’s work continued apace. At Keal Yard, Rase Steel installed Yorkshire cladding on the old crew shed. In the meantime, safety netting went up on the brand-new barn in readiness for roof sheeting. Ultimately, this will provide winter shelter for our Lincoln Red cattle.


An over-supply of rainfall left estate workers soggy and some fields water-logged, yet work continued to harvest timber from the woods and plant new fence posts. At the Hall, Newboult Construction laid bricks to help protect and preserve the Walled Garden for generations to come, while Dave Ward and his team with joiner Phil Codd completed a handsome new section of fencing.

The rainfall highlighted the challenges inherent in managing a 17th-century property, thoroughly testing the roof and leaving a few damp patches in need of investigation. The painters finished their work on the Hall’s windows and wisely started work in the thoroughly dry top corridor.


In the media, South Ormsby Estate was recognised by Lincolnshire Life magazine for its fine work in establishing the Massingberd-Mundy Lincoln Red brand. We’ve helped a rare and ancient breed to recover and thrive with patient and sustainable farming practices, and we’ve created a product that has clearly made an impression with discerning diners.


Last winter, the Hall’s boiler guzzled an eye-watering 14,331 litres of fuel oil. Now, with the temperature falling and the nights drawing in, we’re already reaping the benefits of the biomass system installed by Glen Farrow of Spalding.

Oil is a finite resource taking many millennia to form, and its environmental and commercial costs can be significant. Well managed biomass fuel is renewable. Dead wood burned will be replaced by new trees which absorb carbon dioxide. Straw is a by-product of food production – biomass makes it a useful resource which is quickly replaced.


Our biomass system is built for optimal efficiency. The burning chamber is surrounded by what amounts to a water-filled jacket, using heat emitted in all directions – even the door is filled with water. Water isn’t pumped directly from the boiler to the Hall. For maximum efficiency – and because brackish, boiler-plate water isn’t suitable for domestic use – the system uses two heat exchangers.


The heat exchangers take the form of braised steel plates – one between the boiler and the water tanks, and one where the water supply reaches the Hall. Conducting heat through metal loses less heat than direct hydraulic contact.

Glen Farrow dealt with several challenges at South Ormsby, not least of which was laying 170m of underground, pre-insulated pipework. They also installed three accumulator tanks holding a total of 10,500L of water – the old outbuildings weren’t quite big enough for one enormous tank, so we have three tanks of 3,500L each.


The boiler needs to be manually fed by estate staff up to three times per day. A fuel-oil boiler will be retained as a back-up, but the new Hall thermostat will prioritise biomass as a heat source. Not only will the biomass boiler keep the Hall warm at far lower financial and environmental cost, but shovelling in the fuel will keep estate staff warm too!


We offer our thanks to Phillip Pickering and Michael Powell of Glen Farrow for their generous assistance with this article.