Honeymead is part of the historic Forest of Exmoor, purchased by John Knight from the Crown in the early 19th century. The Earl of Fortescue, based near Barnstaple, then bought it from Mr Knight's son and when Sir Robert Waley-Cohen bought Honeymead in 1928 this was the first sale of any part of the entire estate. Sir Robert was a successful industrialist, but hugely enjoyed the challenge of bringing contemporary farming techniques to this remote and hilly area, and developed prize-winning herds of Friesian dairy cattle, Red Ruby Devon cattle, Exmoor Horn and Devon Closewool sheep. He also pioneered the planting of shelter belts of trees to complement the traditional wall and beech hedge fences between enclosures, and both of these features can still be seen on Honeymead.
Sir Robert's son, Sir Bernard, was well known as Lord Mayor of London (1960-61) and as Chairman of the Devon & Somerset Staghounds for very many years; he also maintained the farming traditions at Honeymead, although he gave up the dairy cattle. The present owner, Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen, is based in London where he is very much involved in the business of West End Theatre. These include St Martin's Theatre, the Victoria Palace Theatre and The Ambassadors Theatre.
He and his family are at Honeymead as much as they can be, although they are no longer the direct farmers, preferring to let the ground for the grazing of cattle and sheep.
Until the mains electricity came to Honeymead, power was generated by complex water pressure schemes, and signs of this are still visible in the first valley south of Honeymead. With the new interest in renewable energy sources, Sir Stephen has recently installed a wind turbine a few hundred yards from the Old Farmhouse which provides most of the electricity needed, but now backed up by the National Grid.
Porlock Arts Festival
Somerset Art Weeks
Two Moors Festival (Classic FM’s)
Porlock Red Deer Rutting Weekend
Exmoor Beast – 1000 cyclists endure 100 mile course