Harold’s Park Farm (affectionately known as HPF) situated in Nazeing, Essex is a financially viable equestrian venue that is, for no apparent reason, being shut down by the UK’s largest landowner, The Church of England. The C of E attempts to obtain the property from the current tenants commenced upon the death of the late George Mackie, son of The Right Honorable Lord John Mackie, who entrusted the farm through sale to the Church of England CBF fund’s trustees LTD. It was Mackie’s intention for the Church to safeguard the farm and livery yard for generations to come.
Harold’s Park Farm is a busy equestrian facility and farm which also encompasses a Christmas tree plantation. The large equestrian centre with an indoor and Olympic-sized outdoor arena offers stabling on a DIY basis and a full livery basis. Due to being served with an eviction notice, they are now faced with closure of the livery on 31st March 2023 meaning around 90 horses will have to be rehomed. There is also the removal of the indoor and outdoor schools planned for a future date.
Within 48 hours of being served this notice, HPF learned, by way of mouth, of around 80 other closures within a very small part of the Essex and Herts area alone.
Examples of the loss of other large competition venues include; Wix Equestrian Centre in Manningtree; Norton Heath Equestrian Centre; Ingatestone and Towerlands Equestrian Centre in Braintree. One of the largest yards which has been affected by closure was Strangeways in Borehamwood where it is believed the equestrian facility closed due to the expansion of film studios. This is a huge blow to not only the HPF and other large facilities, but the entire equestrian community in the area which has also seen closures to other local equine facilities including Piper’s Farm, Pine Lodge, Sue Budd’s, Queen Elizabeth riding school, Carlton House, Pick’s Cottage, Pick’s Farm and Bury Farm.
Harold’s Park Farm hosts Pony Club rallies and training clinics, which are provided free of charge as their ethos is to encourage and support young future horse riders. It is also a competition venue for Dressage, Showjumping and Showing and creates qualifier opportunities; Pony Club Dressage Winter League, Sunshine Tour, Trailblazers, Traditional of the Year Show and qualifiers that go towards Horse of the Year Show.
One of their own riders from Harold’s Park, Claudia Davis, commenced her dressage riding career at the centre and is currently with Olympic Champion Kyra Kyrklund competing across Europe and the UK. Claudia brings her horse to competitions at Harold’s to practice for her U16 International PSG. Another of their current liveries and riders, Charlotte Silcott-Niles, also competes across Europe and the UK representing the GB team in Horseball – Sadly Charlotte is faced with eviction too.
Throughout the UK, farms and liveries are closing down at an alarming rate, which poses serious questions of what this means for future generations of equestrians. This is not just another livery yard, but a vital and integral part of the local community. Harold’s Park has given young equestrians the opportunity to progress to the highest competitions in the equestrian calendar; they have seen a young Pony Club rider progress to the GB International Young Riders’ team in dressage and others representing the Pony Club at the National Championships.
How can you help Harold’s Park Farm?
Help protect the facilities by engaging in talks with CCLA (C od E’s property trustees) / Bidwells (Rowland.Bull@Bidwells.co.u & Rebecca.Sharpe@bidwells.co.uk), to influence the CBF Funds Trustees LTD, to reverse their decision to remove the lease for the livery yard and future removal of the indoor school and Olympic sized outdoor arenas.
Raise national awareness of the erosion of the equestrian community and facilities.
Engage with Cheryl Johns who is actively trying to reform the livery yard owners sector and currently runs Liverylist. Her contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheryl is aware of the issues that yard owners face and works to support this area.