Our family history of farming dates back to 1851, with our Great, Great Grandfather William Marshall. His son, and our Great Grandfather, Sam Marshall was a successful and well respected farmer at Priory Farm, Puttenham growing a wide range of produce including vegetables for the army in Aldershot and hops until he retired in 1933. In his retirement he wrote the book ‘Life of a successful farmer’ published in 1942. (Priory Farm is now largely private residences and commercial units). Our Grandfather William Arthur Marshall followed in his footsteps to farm at Weydon Hill Farm, Farnham growing hops and other crops. It was through the compulsory purchase of Weydon Hill Farm for housing in 1947 (now known as Weydon) that the family came to settle at Malthouse Farm here in Kingsley. Unfortunately, with the passing of William A Marshall in 1966 the farm was sold to satisfy death duties and the farm divided, with our father Peter Marshall gaining employment as farm manager with the new owners.
A new beginning..
It’s then that the Country Market story begins. As young mother June Marshall set off with her Morris Traveller (and young children) selling door to door the home grown produce grown on the 3 acre plot around the house that husband Peter was farming, while also managing the farm for the new owners. As demand grew for this pioneering box scheme, more locally produced items were added including eggs, mushrooms and honey. By 1971 the garage was converted to the first shop with regular open hours, and 40 acres of the original farm were purchased back to assist with demand for the shop.
The first poly tunnel was introduced in 1975, which enabled bedding plants to be added to the growing range, as well as the first venture into the new craze that was ‘Pick-your-own.’
A further twist was presented with the passing of Mr Bentley, the then owner of the farm, and Peter took on the brave and ambitious opportunity to repurchase the original family farm in the early eighties.
With the additional land the farm operation was able to diversify and tailor crops to the growing demand for the shop. Peter also continued to grow hops on the farm until the irrecoverable destruction of the hop garden in the great storm of 1987.
By the late 80's Country Market had outgrown the original premises and in 1988 another ambitious project began to relocate the oak framed 19th Century grain barn from the original site and rebuild it as the new farm centre. This was to become the Country Market that most know and will remember.
This new farm centre was opened in 1989, with a small number of local enterprises added, and a year later the first floor was converted into the Cornucopia Carvery Restaurant. And 10 years later, the Restaurant was extended again to provide evening function facilities with combined seating for up to 250 guests. A further extension and moves in 2006 provided the ability to introduce a broader range of shopping facilities, a new restaurant and a more modern garden centre environment.
Disaster struck in the early morning hours of Wednesday 31st March 2010. An electrical fire broke out in a concession, and fanned by high winds, spread through our oak framed barn and the adjoining retail buildings. Fortunately no one was injured but the entire group of buildings were destroyed.
Rising from the ashes
The journey continued though, and within a few months of the fire a determined effort brought together a 'temporary' farm shop, garden centre and small cafe by re-utilising our existing Hop Picking barn. The nearby Hop Kiln also became utilised as an aquatics centre. Both our plant nursery and farm carried on growing plants and fresh produce, and encouraged by public support, we were granted the ability to carry on, grow and offer our produce direct to the public while taking the steps towards our redevelopment.
The site of the original shop was cleared including a full archaeological investigation to unearth the near 2,000 year old Roman pottery kilns that had previously laid beneath the original shop.
A full redevelopment plan was put together to include an array of fabulous projects to help celebrate our relaunch.
On the 31st May 2014 at 10am the new Country Market opened to the public.
The new Country Market has developed into a countryside retail experience and popular destination that is now home to 16 shops, outlets & restaurants including our own garden centre and plant nursery, farm shop and carvery restaurant.
Our father, and founder of Country Market, Peter Marshall passed away on 19th January 2017 but the business remains family owned and continues to grow a wide range of fresh produce and plants from our 200 acre farm here in Kingsley.
The range of products and services that we offer also continues to grow and develop and we remain focused on providing you with personal service and good customer care. We are also pleased to be involved with and support a wide number of community led events and organisations.
Thank you for reading, we look forward to welcoming you.