The History of Leckford Estate

Our involvement in the part of the Test Valley spans nearly 90 years and our history is very important to us.

Leckford Estate was purchased as a private estate by John Spedan Lewis of Oxford Street in 1929; a visionary retailer with an extensive knowledge of botany, entomology and aquatic life and the founder of the John Lewis Partnership.

Spedan invested heavily during his lifetime on the estate, particularly in housing, farming mechanisation, Partner welfare and the environment. The Estate stands as a legacy to Spedan Lewis’ devotion to experimentation, Partner happiness and the natural environment. 

Timeline

  • 1929: Spedan Lewis brought Leckford Estate. The original estate was c.1800 acres and Spedan's home was Leckford Abbess, which later became known as Leckford Abbas.
  • 1930’s:  Improvement is carried out on the Estate, this included the development of sustainable farming operations.
  • 1930’s: A Bird Farm was established and the first copy of the Leckford Gazette was published.
  • 1937: The first Leckford camp was introduced (a facility for Retail working Partners to holiday). This holiday provision remains on the estate even today.
  • 1940's: In the mid 40's the estate expanded into Longstock taking the entire estate to around 4,000 acres. Spedan Lewis moved from Leckford to Longstock House, and spent much of his time improving the Water Gardens. The farm continued to produce food for the Waitrose shops and a substantial part of the Leckford side of the estate was commandeered as an airfield for the War effort.
  • 1946: The Estate became integrated into the partnership, and the staff of Leckford Estate became Partners and the Leckford Branch Council was established.
  • 1950's onwards: 1955 Spedan Lewis retires and moves into a small house on the Estate. The farm continues to develop the types of produce grown on the estate.
  • 2001: The Leckford Estate becomes part of the Waitrose trading division and officially the Waitrose Farm.

We have been farmers for 87 years and we are proud of our heritage. Over the years we have adapted and modernised our farming practices to ensure the produce we supply Waitrose is fantastic quality produced in a sustainable way. We sell this as Leckford brand but also as ingredients within other Waitrose product. The estate is so much more than a farm and Modern Leckford is all about celebrating our diversity and ensure we enhance our Waitrose brand by being the Waitrose farm and farming ethically.

The legacy of John Spedan Lewis’ vision continues to live on at Leckford Estate from the foundation that he built in the John Spedan Lewis Trust.