Just a strange little thought

We get a lot of whingeing about how the Dukes and the like still own so much land. But land has been declining in – relative at least – value for a century an a half now. Quite how much that change in value is….

Here’s a list of the Ducal estates. Albans has 4,000 acres, Somerset 2,000, Fife 1500, Richmond 21,000. OK, I’m cherry picking.

Just to use some number or other, ag land is £5,000 an acre. That’s a bit high for estates as some of it will be wood, moor, etc. But fine.

£20 million, £10 million, £7.5 million, £105 million.

The average wage of a Premier League footballer is just over £60,000 a week, which equates to more than 3 million a year.

Those lower end ducal estates are well within reach of the average premiership footballer. If that’s what they want to devote their income to of course.

Something of a change in relative values there, no?

15 thoughts on “Just a strange little thought”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    Is it a proxy for perceived privilege?

    Most of that land will be heading for the NT in the next few generations anyway as the upkeep is becoming too expensive.

  2. There are 23 million acres of farmland in the UK.

    At 5 grand/acre any one of Bezos. Musk, Zuckerberg, Gates, Page, Brin or Elison could buy the whole lot.

    These fortunes did not exist one generation ago.

  3. “The Duke of Buccleuch, for example, owns some 270,700 acres across England and Scotland – twice the area owned by the Prince of Wales, and about half the size of Greater London.”

    Aye, but have you seen it? Plenty of moor and bog there. And then lots of bog and moor.

    The case for agricultural subsidies is either good or bad irrespective of who owns the land.

    The case for uncapped Agricultural Property Relief against inheritance Tax is never made, presumably because there is no respectable case for it.

  4. A lot of land isn’t usable. Some Aristo character whose name escapes me owns huge tracts of Scottish Highlands. But unless a commercial use is found for midges it is of little use to him and few would buy it.

  5. Ecks, it’s the Duke of buckluck as mentioned above. The SNP have had their sights set on him for a long time. He will have it taken from him, by and by. And probably he’ll be grateful.

  6. “Those lower end ducal estates are well within reach of the average premiership footballer.”

    And thus the wheel would have turned full circle. Great estates awarded for intrepidness on the battlefield.

  7. £5k/acre? You’ve got to be kidding. You can’t buy farmland for double that. Moors and forests maybe, but actual farmland for £5k/acre is about 15-20 years out of date. Plus of course those estates will include loads of farmhouses and worker cottages, plus farm yards that could easily be turned into executive houses. A 1000 acre estate in southern England will probably have an asking purchase price of £15m-20m.

  8. “A 1000 acre estate in southern England will probably have an asking purchase price of £15m-20m.” If it brings some good sea views as well, a bargain at the price. And lots of room for a helipad. I dare say CR7 could easily afford it.

  9. I sneeze in threes, by genuine farmers I assume you mean massive agri-corps.

    Everyone else is basically a hobbyist.

  10. “by genuine farmers I assume you mean massive agri-corps.”

    There are no massive agri-corporations in UK farming. The absolute largest farming estates own no more than around 25k acres (James Dyson owns that amount, more than the Queen at 20k acres), which as the agricultural area of the UK is 23 million acres is a tiny fraction of the whole. The average land holding is about 200 acres, even the median would only be about 1000. There is no equivalent of a Tesco or a Vodafone in farming. This is mainly because of two things, a) farming has no economies of scale beyond a few thousand acres and b) its not really very profitable, even with agricultural subsidies. Thats why you don’t have mega-farming corporations controlling 10-20% of the entire industry (as you do in other industries), they can’t make it pay enough to justify the investment. Farming is rather like football, its a plaything for the mega-rich who have made their billions from other industries and decide they want to play farmer now (or just want to live in the countryside and control the landscape around them, and owning 10k acres is a nice tax efficient way of doing that). If you want to make small fortune in farming, start with a large one.

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