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Surrey Hills Society visits a film set where pork takes the place of popcorn

PUBLISHED: 23:30 11 April 2012 | UPDATED: 19:26 20 February 2013

Hampton Estate's Bill and Bridget Biddell with Surrey Hills Society chairman, Neil Maltby

Hampton Estate's Bill and Bridget Biddell with Surrey Hills Society chairman, Neil Maltby

While visiting a historic hidden gem, the Surrey Hills Society recently stumbled across a giant bean stalk as well as learning more about what makes a family-owned rural business tick in the modern day

While visiting a historic hidden gem, the Surrey Hills Society recently stumbled across a giant bean stalk as well as learning more about what makes a family-owned rural business tick in the modern day.

The Hampton Estate in Seale, just off the Hogs Back, was once a traditional dairy and hops farm but has since been used for TV series, including Midsomer Murders and Poirot, and is currently hosting filming for the movie Jack the Giant Killer(also shot at Bourne Woods, near Farnham).

The secret to surviving is diversification, says Bill Biddell, the societys host for the day. Today the industries at the estate range from beef cattle and arable farming to hiring out the area for blockbuster movies, including the Robin Hood film with Russell Crowe.

In the 1980s, the Hampton Estates owners realised that traditional dairy farming was becoming unprofitable and the decision was taken to sell their herd of 120 Jersey cows.

To manage the grassland and open rural pastures of the estate the family now run a small herd of Sussex beef cattle, meat from which can be purchase from the estate, along with Hampton herby sausages, local free range pork, special steak pies and venison, rabbit and pheasant in season.

A day with the Surrey Hills Society...

After a morning surveying woodland, commons and lakes management programmes and a session in the hops fields, the society was treated to a lunch of local produce and beverages including neighbouring Greyfriars vineyards sparkling wine.

In the afternoon, the society viewed the 30 metre high bean stalk currently being built on the film set of Jack the Giant Slayer, enjoyed a walk through some of the coppiced woodlands on the estate and viewed a new attractive housing development being created from some derelict farm buildings, which will be heated by wood burning combustion unit fired by wood from the estate.

The day was ended with a trip to the Seale Craft Centre and tea shop, again created from redundant farm buildings. Yet another example of the Hampton Estates philosophy of not having all your eggs in one basket.

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