Any Estate which has survived for almost a thousand years, will have a rich history and many stories to tell. Revesby is no different, and the Estate is very proud of the role its personalities have played on local, national and international stages over the years.
The beginnings of today’s Revesby Estate are almost one thousand years old. Less than 100 years after the Norman Conquest in 1066, the estate was left to the Cistercian monks of Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire, to build a monastic community in Lincolnshire.
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These monks established the Abbey of St. Mary and St. Lawrence in 1143, basing the abbey design on that of the one at Rievaulx. The abbey’s first Abbot was St. Aelred of Rievaulx and he remained at Revesby until his return to Rievaulx in 1147.
It was St. Aelred who established Revesby Abbey’s close and caring relationship with the community amongst whom they lived.
This benevolent and respectful relationship was maintained for almost 400 years, until the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. Under this programme, Revesby Abbey was finally dissolved in 1539. This abbey was demolished over the following 200 years.
Henry VIII and Revesby as a royal gift
Having dissolved the monastery, Henry VIII made a royal gift of Revesby to his brother-in-law, Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk.
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Little is recorded of Brandon as a landlord, but it is most likely the estate was placed in the hands of a steward charged with managing Revesby.
Following Brandon’s death in 1545, Revesby passed through several notable owners, including Thomas Cecil, Lord Burghley, 1st Earl of Exeter, who served in Elizabeth I’s government. He also served as Member of Parliament for Lincolnshire from 1586-92.
Revesby Estate survived the tempestuous political times of the Tudors and later the Stuarts, being passed down through the years as a thriving rural estate.
Joseph Banks, Revesby and Australia
The Banks family bought Revesby Estate in 1714. Four generations of Banks – all confusingly called Joseph – played their part in developing Revesby Estate into something recognisable today.
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It was the first Joseph Banks who fenced in Revesby’s deer park in 1717. It was also the Banks family who undertook the modern drainage of their area of the Fens, finally ensuring that the re-flooding which had blighted previous attempts did not return again.
The fourth Joseph would become Sir Joseph Banks. Sir Joseph helped fund Captain Cook’s exploration of the globe, also joining the voyage as the expedition’s botanist. Banks was also President of the Royal Society for over 40 years and was advisor to King George III and the development of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
Sir Joseph brought home with him from his travels hundreds of new species of plants, many of which were planted at Revesby. It is also said he brought kangaroos back to the Estate and the part of the park where he lived is still called Kangaroo Park today.
Sir Joseph died in 1820 without children and Revesby Estate was left to the Stanhope line of the family.
The First World War, great loss
The First World War was not kind to the Stanhope family. Along with millions of his generation, the Honourable Richard Stanhope fought and died in war. He was killed at the Battle of the Somme on 15th September 1916.
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By tragic coincidence, his wife, Lady Beryl, gave birth to their stillborn child on the very same day.
During the war, Revesby Estate supported the war effort by producing much needed food, providing employment for workers and providing horses to the army.
Lady Beryl Groves and the Roaring 20s
Having lost her first husband in the war, Lady Beryl remarried and continued to take a very keen interest in the running of the Estate. She was a keen and knowledgeable agriculturalist, with a particular passion for breeding horses, especially hunters and shires.
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Lady Beryl was one of the founders of the Revesby Agricultural Show, sitting as the show committee’s President and Chairman. She made the Estate’s beautiful parkland available for the show, where it still takes place today, continuing as the largest single day show in the county.
Under Lady Beryl, the Estate’s agriculture was modernised, turning Revesby into a diverse commercial Estate not so dissimilar from today.
When she died in 1958, the local paper lauded Lady Beryl as a, "big loss to Revesby and Horncastle district".
The Second World War
Revesby Estate again lost family members in the Second World War. Lady Beryl’s son, Humphrey was killed in a Spitfire accident in 1942. However, before his death, Squadron Leader Humphrey Gilbert had served with distinction, fighting in the Battle of Britain and being awarded the DFC for exemplary gallantry.
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In May 1945, after the end of the war, Lady Beryl was sent a personal letter of thanks from His Majesty’s Government thanking her for the Estate’s role feeding the nation during the war. In the letter, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries praised the, “willing cooperation of the farming community” and thanked her for, “having played so important a part in the contribution which British agriculture has made to our Victory”.
The Estate starts its inland farming operation
Boston no longer receives its drinking water from Revesby Estate, and the Reservoirs are converted to commercial fisheries
The beginning of the Estates green revolution, with a carbon reduction plan resulting in closer monitoring of fossil fuels and the creation of five woodchip distinct heating networks
The Estates grows into a total of six departments with dedicated management.