The Pitt-Rivers family have farmed at Hinton St Mary since the mid-1500s, with Anthony and Valerie taking the reins in the 1970s. The River Stour runs through the estate in North Dorset, a beautiful area called the Blackmore Vale. Currently the estate farms 724 hectares, predominantly arable wheat and barley, oil seed rape and maize. Land is let to local shepherds and dairymen with a youngstock of 600. An additional 42 hectares is protected woodland, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Dorset Wildlife Trust rents an area called Girdlers Coppice, but the main wood is Old English Wood and home to the native dormouse, and as such is now part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.
The River Stour runs through the Hinton St Mary Estate. The estate owns 8 miles of the river, on which they have three water mills situated, Sturminster Mill, Fiddleford Mill and Cutt Mill. Cutt Mill pictured here suffered a fire in 2003 and is now derelict but it is an attractive and popular spot for painters, bird watchers and anglers. Fishing is welcomed but only permitted with the correct licence and with prior permission from the estate.
In 1880 General Augustus Pitt-Rivers, the archaeologist, inherited the estate from his cousin Lord Rivers and the Manor House became the dower house where his eldest son, Alexander lived from about 1895. Alexander was an architect and amongst his works are the Lodge adjacent to the entrance gates to the Manor House. Until that date there were paddocks where the garden now is and the tithe barn and stables were let to an agricultural tenant. Around 1900, the Manor House was enlarged and modernised, the garden was laid out in roughly its present form and the medieval tithe barn was converted into a hall.