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  • Writer's pictureStephie Joslin

BACKGROUND ON HILLFARM



About us


We’re a small family business who have owned Hill Farm since February 2019. Being third generation arable

farmers from Essex, we knew lots about crops, but not so much about farm diversification, which is so

important for farm businesses to survive. This crucially led us to exploring ideas into how we could utilise our

farm and attract visitors to enjoy our beautiful surroundings. Setting up a glamping site felt like a natural thing to do so others can enjoy the scenery, have access to nature and take in the peaceful ambiance.


History of the farm


Before we bought the farm, we heard all about its history. We discovered Hill Farm wasn’t always just an

arable farm growing crops. There were horses, cows, sheep, pigs and even turkeys at various points in its

history! As well as fields for crops, there are also three beautiful meadows. In addition, Hill Farm has a

Grade 2 Listed farmhouse and a beautiful Grade 2 listed Suffolk barn which we are keen to preserve. What

attracted us to Hill Farm was the feel of the farm when we first visited. At the end of a road and half a mile

away from Stoke Ash village, it felt secluded but not too far away from the world. The farmhouse and

buildings are in the middle of the land, at the top of a small hill, which means the views all around are

fantastic. From the farmhouse kitchen window, we often awake to see huge red deer running in the mist

in the field beyond the pond.


How our dream turned into reality


We drew out some ideas for a glamping site on a small whiteboard, never dreaming we

would be able to make it a reality! We decided the site should be in our small woodland area, peacefully

overlooking the fields. Not only would this be beautiful for the guests, but it made it possible to run

electricity, drinking water, and Wifi to the site. We know our glamping visitors love nature, but they also

want some creature comforts!


In March 2019, we got our planning application together and submitted it to the Council. We’re delighted

to say it passed easily and in May 2019 we started building the site.


Preparing the site

The woodland hadn’t been managed over the years so we had to remove some ash trees which were

suffering from disease, but this created fantastic spaces for our luxury bell tents. We ran services under

the ground and constructed our toilet, shower and kitchen block. We bought all our tents, covers,

furniture and equipment – firepits and BBQs and games for the children. At the same time, we set up our

own website and started taking bookings in anticipation of being ready, also advertising on other well

known glamping and camping websites.


We did it


Given we work full time in other jobs around the country, it was lots of hard work and late nights at weekends,

but we finished our site preparation in early July 2019, got our site licence immediately, and opened to the public

a week later!


After our first season


What followed was a fantastic 2019 summer season. Running a glamping site (or, indeed, any kind of

hospitality offering) was totally new to us, but we had a fantastic time doing it. We met some lovely,

interesting and quirky people, who hailed from far and wide. Some booked individual tents with their

families, some wanted to book the whole site for big family get togethers, friends booked the site for

birthday parties, all loved being in the beautiful English countryside.


Difficult times during COVID


Summer 2020 was of course different. In March 2020, we had the news that we were in lockdown due to

this new ‘Covid-19 virus’ sweeping across the world. The government supported businesses such as ours

with grants to offset some of the loss of income, and we were fortunate to be able to run a reduced season,

with significant extra social distancing and cleaning costs and enforced breaks between visitor stays in tents.

Not able to travel internationally, many people decided they would like a glamping staycation and being out

in the fresh air was low risk, so many glamping sites across the UK fared reasonably well.


The same was true in 2021. We understood Covid better now and most people were vaccinated, but travel

was still limited, with the result that we welcomed many people glamping at Hill Farm. We had such a

range of visitors, from parents and children who had no outside space at home and were squealing with

delight to be in the open countryside, to a group of NHS doctors who had been on the front-line of

Covid and were taking some well needed time off. They loved playing cricket in our meadows.


Improvements to the glamping site


In 2022, we expanded our glamping offering, with a table tennis table and more games for the children,

and individual cooking huts for each tent. We also partnered with a local charity – Something to Look

Forward to – which offers experiences and holidays to people with cancer and their families. We were

privileged to give away glamping holidays to these incredible people and provide them with little extra treats during their time with us.


2023 looks set to be a great year for glamping once again. We are looking forward to welcoming lots of groups of families who have booked our whole site for their special occasions. We can’t wait to meet them all and hear their stories!


In Summary


We hope you have enjoyed hearing more about our beautiful farm and how our glamping site came to be.


If you are looking for a glamping trip to enjoy this summer season then we would love welcome you at Hill Farm!


Why not book your next adventure today and head to hillfarmsuffolk.co.uk/book-a-tent or get in touch with us today by emailing us at info@hillfarmsuffolk.co.uk.


Happy glamping!


Love,


Stephie, Mary, Iain, Lisa and Felix xx






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