“Butler Sherborn’s Rural & Professional department prides itself on providing tailored personal and professional advice to an ever-widening variety of property owners and occupiers through the application of sound commercial knowledge, environmental awareness and a careful understanding of our clients aims, objectives and expectations.”  R Greasby Head of Rural & Professional

Within the Butler Sherborn Rural department sits Farm & Estate Management and Country House Consultancy. Owning a country house, whether on its own or as part of a wider Estate, often involves dealing with complex and unique issues. These matters need to be resolved sensitively, efficiently and above all cost effectively.

We can advise on a range of topics from project management, land use and tenancies to Estate & household staff, environmental grants and farm subsidies. Our expertise in land and property management enables our client’s country residences to evolve with the times, whilst preserving their unique qualities.

Our principles remain firm; in that we must understand our clients aims and objectives We are committed to protecting, and, where possible enhancing our client’s investment, whilst minimising risk and expenditure. Whether it is a large Estate with a diverse mix of asset classes, or a country house that serves as a weekend retreat, our business is to ensure that the client enjoys their home, whilst sustainably preserving their assets for future generations to enjoy.

Farm Management

Butler Sherborn provides practical farm business and land management advice to support the efficiency and profitability of the business. We provide advice to a range of farming businesses from small holdings to large commercial farms. Our expertise includes:

  • Basic Payment Schemes (Farm subsidy) applications.
  • Agri-Environment scheme applications
  • Contract Farming Agreements
  • Agricultural Tenancies –including preparing new Farm Business Tenancies (FBT’s), and Cropping and Grazing licences
  • Farm Rent Reviews – FBT’s and Agricultural Holding Act Tenancies
  • Diversification & Planning opportunities
  • Succession Planning Support
  • Rights of Way
  • Bookkeeping & Staff Management

Estate Management

At Butler Sherborn we cover all elements of property management, from a significant principal property with paddocks and cottages, to a diverse landed estate with a substantial residential and Agricultural portfolio, farming, forestry and sporting interests. Our role can be extremely varied, included within this is the hiring, training and supervision of staff that are required to meet the needs of the household. In addition to the personnel management, the administrative functions that we can assist with are numerous; including all related financial matters, accounting, budgets and payroll. In order to achieve the most from our client’s property we are required to have some knowledge in a wide range of areas, including the supervision and overseeing of external contractors, construction and renovation projects, and the maintenance of grounds and gardens including Listed Buildings and Heritage property.

Whether strategic consultancy, assistance with one-off projects, or wholesale management, Butler Sherborn provides a bespoke service to maximise enjoyment and maintain profitability of our clients’ assets.

Area with which Butler Sherborn can assist;

  • Strategic management and business planning –Landed Estates derive their income from let Agricultural and Residential portfolios. Given the age and character of these properties, together with the expenditure required to maintain and observe current regulations (Energy efficiency, Electrical and Gas safety etc.) means that the draw on capital is greater than ever before. Therefore, budgeting and cashflow must be managed. There is also the potential for alternative income streams to be considered, whether it is a wedding venue, event, music festival or a diverse agricultural income – free range eggs, B & B pigs or renewable energy opportunities. All of which require careful consideration, from both a strategic and financial perspective.
  • Staff management – including sourcing both permanent and temporary staff (domestic and Estate), payroll runs, staff and salary reviews, banking and management of the client account.
  • Bookkeeping and Accounts – managing all Estate income using a property management system, thereby ensuring that all rent demands, licence fees and cash flow is carefully monitored. VAT returns, pension enrolment and tenancy deposit schemes can all be managed from our Cirencester Office. Rent ledgers and debtor reports can be prepared, enabling efficient property management.
  • Estate & Farm Insurance – This can be an expensive cost to a client and needs to be tailored to every individual. There are countless insurance companies, however there are a limited number that specialise in Farms & Estates. Subsequently it might be possible to reduce insurance premiums and ensure that the Estate assets are appropriately insured. We can manage a tender, obtain quotations and deal with respective brokers to ensure the best deal for a client.
  • Farm Tenancies, Grazing, Garden and sporting Licences – The income derived from Agriculture is hugely important from a cash flow perspective, as it is a regular income received on two fixed dates throughout the year. Farm rents are generally reviewed at 3 yearly intervals. Grazing licences offer owners a simple and effective way of having grassland or parkland grazed for a set period, for an agreed licence fee (between £30-£60/ac). Cropping licences can also be issued for a specific crop (potatoes being a common one) with licence fees up to £325/ac being achieved.
  • Contract Farming Agreements – This is an arm’s length agreement between a “farmer” (landowner) and a Contractor. The Farmer engages the services on agreed terms and pays them according to a set formula (written within the agreement). Agreements are for a fixed period (3-5 years). The farmer provides land, buildings and fixed equipment, whereas the contractor provides labour, machinery and management expertise.

The returns are typically made up of two parts for each party. The landowner (farmer) retains a basic or first return (£80-£90/ac) and generally retains a percentage of any profits made within the divisible surplus. The contractor receives a basic fee for his services and an apportioned split of the profits – often more than the farmer as an incentive for him to perform to the best of their ability.

The key advantages to a Landowner operating a CFA are:

  • Farmer retains control, full possession and tenure
  • Reduces capital tied up in machinery
  • IHT advantages, as by remaining as an active farmer, then 100% APR and BPR should be available
  • Shoot Management – Game shooting remains in strong demand, however running a shoot whether it is a small family shoot, or a commercial enterprise requires management, as the investment and running costs can be substantial depending on the scale of the operation. Due consideration should be given to preparing a shoot budget that accounts for all costs including Gamekeeper(s), vehicles, housing, dog allowance, rearing costs, birds, feed, cover crops, woodland management etc. Then there is the selling of the days, which is dependent on the quality of the shooting on offer, plus factoring in the running costs on the day (beaters, pickers, transport, catering, hosting etc.) Subsequently there is a huge amount of work that goes into the running of a shoot, that requires a measured management approach.
  • Woodland Management –Subject to the owners goals and intentions, woodland can be managed in a number of ways to not only benefit the flora & fauna and habitats found within, but also for firewood production, planking timber, sporting and recreational facilities, notwithstanding the landscape and amenity value of our woodland. Within the last 2 years the timber market has been buoyed by improved prices across the range from chip wood & firewood to top grade planking butts.

In order to actively manage woodland, then it is advisable (subject to woodland area) to have a Woodland Management Plan in place. Funding is available for this plan to be paid for through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

The Woodland Management Plan identifies management objectives of the Estate which can include one or all of the following examples:

  • Manage the woodland using sound silvicultural principles for timber production
  • Maximise grants and revenue from timber sales
  • Manage for wildlife and conservation, species rich and diverse woodland structure
  • Landscape & Amenity
  • Compliant with UK Forestry Standards – improve ride and access routes, improved nesting and habitat sites

We are not Forestry experts however we have sufficient knowledge to advise woodland owners, and have a number of approved contractors to assist when required.

  • Residential Lettings Management – This can form a significant part of an Estate income; therefore, it is imperative that properties are occupied, maintained and that the appropriate rent is being charged. The regulation surrounding let cottages is becoming increasingly complex for landlords, in that you are required to:

We can also prepare repairs and maintenance budgets, undertake rent reviews, serve Notices to Quit, and organise contractors to ensure that the let cottages remain in a good “lettable” state of repair.

Securing new tenants – is a vital role with which we can assist clients. This includes arranging viewings at the property, interviewing prospective tenants, undertaking reference checks, securing and registering deposits and preparing the tenancy agreement. Butler Sherborn have a lettings department based in Burford. For further details please contact :

Vanessa Carter on 01993 822325 vanessa@butlersherborn.co.uk.


  • Planning & Development – The strategic management of an Estate will often consider planning, development and diversification options available to owners. This might involve converting redundant buildings into commercial or residential use. There might also be the option of selling individual building plots, or land for development. The planning system is complex, however, we have sufficient experience to give advice up to a certain level.
  • Basic Payment and Agri-Environmental Schemes – We can assist clients to claim the available subsidy payments and manage the prescribed terms of any Environmental schemes. With the phasing out of BPS from 2021, the proposal is for this payment to be replaced for farmers and landowners who deliver environmental benefits. The Government’s intentions are to move away from direct support payments to paying “public money for public goods,” thereby rewarding those who deliver benefits to society with an emphasis on encouraging environmental enhancement. The new ELMS (Env Land Management Scheme) is yet to be defined, however it should provide an opportunity for farmers to recoup some of their lost subsidy income. There will be opportunities for landowners and farmers to increase the productivity of their businesses and be supported by providing an environmental benefit. In broad terms, the destination is known, but the way we transition towards it will have a significant influence on all rural businesses. Those landowners and farmers that keep the situation under review and respond pro-actively will be best prepared for the future.
  • Renewable Energy – is becoming an integral part of rural property ownership and management. To date the take up in renewable schemes whether it be Solar PV, wind, biomass boilers or Ground and Air Source heat pumps has been on the back of the government funding incentives through Feed in Tariffs or the Renewable Heat Incentive. These schemes are gradually being phased out (Solar FIT’s stopped in March 2019) or the tariffs reduced. Therefore, when incorporating a renewable scheme there are a wide range of considerations that need to be accounted for. It is common for a renewable energy consultant to be brought in for guidance.

One of the biggest difficulties for owners of large houses, is the ever-increasing running costs. With energy prices only likely to increase for the foreseeable future, then more owners are looking to implement change. One renewable technology that appears to have had a positive uptake is Air source and Ground source heat pumps. There are substantial up-front costs with the installation, however the return on investment is measured in the savings made in using a renewable heat source.

Butler Sherborn work closely with Iso Energy, who can provide professional guidance and support to any home or business owner, who is looking to reduce their reliance on expensive carbon heavy fuels. This guidance includes support with planning, design and installation as well as detailing how best to maximise the various incentive payments that are available.

For more information on Farm & Estate Management then please contact Michael Canby on 01285 883749 michael.canby@butlersherborn.co.uk.

  • Sales & Acquisition – whether a client owns a single property or a residential portfolio, Butler Sherborn can assess whether these assets suit the client’s ownership objectives, as an investment or lifestyle choice. Consequently, clients might look to off-load properties and replace by purchasing others adjoining or in close proximity to improve their overall portfolio. Butler Sherborn have considerable experience in advising clients on the strategic purchase and sale of properties, to meet our clients aims and objectives.

Butler Sherborn has been assisting clients to purchase land and farms in the Cotswolds and surrounding counties for over 25 years. Our services include:

  • Valuations
  • Sale preparation
  • Negotiation
  • Managing the sale through to completion

For more information please contact Sam Butler on 01285 883745   sam@butlersherborn.co.uk

  • Equestrian Property – whether buying, selling, renting or letting equestrian property, we offer a bespoke service tailored to all requirements. From paddocks and field shelters to polo ponies and racing yards, we can assist with purchase and sale, valuations, design and project management and grazing licences. Ben Way is not only a Chartered Surveyor but also an international event rider with a wealth of Equestrian property knowledge. Ben can be contacted on 01451 833140 ben@butlersherborn.co.uk


Cotswold Land

Pip Menzel - November 2019

At all points I have found Butler Sherborn to of gone above and beyond to help with the process of selling our house. They offer a service that is modern in its approach yet old-fashioned and uniquely personable. We have found they're thoughtful and their knowledge of the market is second to none.
— Pip Menzel, November 2019