Who owns Britain: Top ten aristocratic UK landowners

1. Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry
240,000 acres
Richard Buccleuch, the 10th Duke
of Buccleuch & Queensberry, owns four major estates: Queensberry-complete with magical pink sandstone Drumlanrig Castle Langholm in Dumfriesshire, Bowhill in Selkirkshire, plus Boughton in Northamptonshire. He has about 850 acres around Dalkeith Palace near Edinburgh, too. The portfolio also includes a commercial-property arm, a rural land-management consultancy and a foods business. ‘We have centuries of historical connection with our land, and of this I am always conscious, at times proud and, perhaps too often, sentimental,’ says the Duke. ‘But the opportunities are always fresh. Think only of food-security issues, the looming energy-supply gap and biodiversity concerns, and, already, you have three things to which the management
of large areas of land is central.’

2. Trustees of Dukedom of Atholl

145,700 acres
The Trustees of the 10th Duke of Atholl (Sarah Troughton and Blair Trust) own 145,700 acres in Perthshire. The 10th Duke-the 6ft 3in tall ‘Wee Iain’-didn’t have any children and his heir-a cousin from South Africa didn’t want the responsibility of running the estate. Mrs Troughton, the 10th Duke’s half-sister, and her son are the senior trustees of the vast landholding. The 11th Duke lives in Haenertsburg with his wife, Margaret, returning to Scotland each May to take the salute of the Atholl High-landers-Europe’s only private army and loyal only to the Duke.

3. Prince Charles,
as the Duke of Cornwall
133,602 acres
The Duchy of Cornwall owns some 133,602 acres across 23 counties, mostly in the south-west of England. The portfolio includes everything from land in the Isles of Scilly, to farms of more than 1,600 acres, the Prince’s Gloucestershire home, Highgrove, and developments such as Poundbury in Dorset. It is a private estate that funds the public, charitable and private activities of The Prince of Wales.

4. Duke of Westminster   

133,100 acres
The Grosvenor Estate is a portfolio of businesses, rural estates and other assets owned by trusts on behalf of Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, and his family. The Duke’s major landholdings comprise the 96,000-acre Reay Forest in north-west Scotland, the 23,500-acre Abbeystead estate in Lancashire, the 11,500-acre Eaton estate in Cheshire, around Eaton Hall (the family’s principal home), and the 1,800-acre Halkyn estate in North Wales. By marrying Mary Davies in 1677, Sir Thomas Grosvenor acquired London’s ‘five fields’ area, from which the Grosvenor family created Mayfair, Belgravia and Pimlico.

5. Duke of Northumberland
130,000 acres
Ralph Northumberland, the 12th Duke, owns about 120,000 acres around Alnwick Castle in Northumberland (as featured in Blackadder and the ‘Harry Potter’ films), plus the Burncastle estate (and grouse moor) near Lauder in Scotland, the Albury estate, Surrey, and Syon Park in Middlesex.

6. Capt Alwyne Farquharson 128,000 acres

Now in his nineties and living in north Norfolk, the 16th Farquharson of Invercauld owns about 128,000 acres at Invercauld in Aberdeenshire (including a 26,000-acre grouse moor around Braemar Castle, now managed by the local community) hard by The Queen’s estate at Balmoral.

7. Earl of Seafield 101,000 acres
The 13th Earl, Ian Ogilvie-Grant, has 35,000 acres in Banffshire, with 50,000 acres in Inverness and 16,000 acres in Moray, although it’s not clear how these are held, or on whose behalf. Born in 1939, the Earl succeeded his mother to the title in 1969.

8. Countess of Sutherland
82,239 acres
The Countess owns 83,239 acres in the Scottish county bearing her name. The Sutherland Earldom is accepted as being created in 1235, and separated from the Dukedom in 1963 after the death of the 5th Duke. The fairy-tale Dunrobin Castle is at the centre of the estate at Golspie.

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9. Baroness Willoughby de’Eresby
78,200 acres
The 27th Baroness has 15,000 acres in Lincolnshire and 63,200 acres in Perthshire. Nancy Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby was born in 1934, and is joint hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain of England with the Marquess of Cholmondeley.

10. The Pearson family
69,500 acres – Michael Pearson, the 4th Viscount Cowdray, owns 16,500 acres at Cowdray Park in Sussex. His younger brother, the Hon Charles Pearson, owns Dunecht Estates, a diverse rural-property business extending over 53,000 acres in Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire, including three grouse moors and two salmon fishing beats on the River Dee.