In many aspects the Estate has remained untouched for many a year. In recent times the fishery has been enhanced with some new stretches of water, which have previously not been accessible but are now fishable and a new haven for wildlife.
Until Roman times the Test at Kimbridge would have been boggy and marshy, then transformed for milling and fishing. In Norman times there were said to be around 300 mills grinding locally grown cereals around the Hampshire and Isle of Wight area. At Kimbridge, we have our Mill Cottage, transformed from the old mill into our new fishing lodge, still with the original water wheel (albeit restored), which can be seen in good working condition. The mill itself is believed to date back to 1655.
In the late 1940’s there was a concentrated effort to get more agricultural land back into arable production. Most of the Kimbridge rivers were dredged, sadly with a detrimental impact on the river system, removing all the beautiful gravel beds which lined the Test. Following a tremendous effort, much of this damage has been successfully repaired on many of the Kimbridge stretches sympathetically and lovingly over the last 60 years. Although this task will never be completely finished, every new year brings new challenges. However we take great pride in assuming we must have achieved some moderation of success, as in 1987 and 2000 the Estate was elected to host the World Fly Fishing Championships.
The Estate currently offers 6 miles of fishable bank and is managed to a standard to maintain a purist fishery, adhering to upstream dry fly fishing. The fishing has changed dramatically — 4–5 people a year fished the Estate in the late Fifties, early Sixties, whilst the Eighties and Nineties saw a more commercial approach. Now, in 2010 and onwards, the Estate can offer a variety of fishing, arguably unrivalled, with so much diversity within an Estate to members of the newly founded Kimbridge Club.
In an extract from the 1900 Kimbridge Game Book, only 40 trout were taken in one season. Seven of these fish were caught between August–September. The majority caught during the May Fly season. By contrast, as the intensity of fishing increased, in 1909, records show that 100 fish were taken.
In yester year it would have been a bonus to catch a fish on that elusive day on the Test, but in these modern times it almost seems expected to catch as well as enjoy a wonderful day with Mother Nature.
In the 1980’s, we created a haven called Meadow Fishery. We took a tributary from the Main River and created a secluded space where day ticket rods can fish the River Test in small groups.
Finally our Casting School — a wonderful asset to the Estate. A new bespoke timber clad building housing our tuition room, located in the most tranquil location between our two newly formed lakes. A superb location to come along to learn or refresh the art of fly-fishing. We now offer tailor made days to suit your every requirement.