Our Founders & Family

The Barker-Mill family is a long established family with deep roots in Hampshire, where they have been local landowners for 500 years.

Ancestors of the family can be traced back to the 14th Century where they played a vital role in the history and development of Southampton. Their prominence in the town is recognised on the Bargate, the fortified Norman tower guarding the entrance to the city, where the Barker-Mill family shield still remains on display, alongside those of other great Southampton families.

The first John Mill left his mark as a merchant in Southampton, a thriving and cosmopolitan trading centre, circa 1504. By 1613 the family was well enough established to afford an impressive memorial in Nursling Church, Southampton.

In the 18th Century the family inherited Mottisfont Abbey near Romsey, where trees they planted still grow today.

1836 saw the first Barker-Mill. The Rev Sir John Barker-Mill was a jolly figure, famous for his loud chequered trousers and cherry-coloured ties.

Victorian matriarch Mrs Marianne Vaudrey Barker-Mill was the opposite of Rev Sir John. A good businesswoman, she pulled the Barker-Mill finances into shape, selling land at Millbrook, which grew into Southampton’s massive docks.

Another dynamic Barker-Mill businesswoman followed. Brenda Barker-Mill set up a chauffeur service for tourists after the Great War, taking travellers as far as Edinburgh in a second-hand Rolls Royce. Brenda’s son Peter was an artist, but creating vast sculptures and illustrating books didn’t distract him from his local responsibilities.

In March 1965, Peter placed land into trust for the future benefit of the local community. Subsequently, in 1969, a small site was donated for a new village hall in Nursling. Peter died in 1994 and is survived by his daughter, Amanda, and son, Adam.

Both Amanda and Adam are dedicated to the family and the estates.

Amanda launched Britain’s first Butterfly Farm in the New Forest in 1981 and developed Longdown Dairy Farm as a tourist attraction in 1985.

Adam works as a light artist, creating dramatic installations for exhibition.