Just over the English border, and close by the historic site of the Battle of Flodden, you will find the Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre. Not to be confused with Hay Farm on the Aberdeenshire coast on the Slains Castle estate, this farm also takes its name from connections to the Hay family.
Hay Farm is dedicated to the Clydesdale horse breed, working horses originally bred in the Clyde valley near Glasgow and which were universal throughout Scotland before tractors took over. Situated near the village of Ford in Northumberland, the farm also hosts other native rare breeds, including Loop Eared pigs, Oxford Down sheep and Lincolnshire Longwools. Hay Farm offers a delightful family day out, including carriage rides, home-made takeaway food and much else besides.
Hay Farm is situated on the Etal estate, a property with long connections to the Hays. It came into the family with the marriage of James Hay, 15th Earl of Erroll, to Isabella, daughter and heiress of Sir William Carr, the squire of Etal. A family arrangement ensured the property passed to their second son, William, who changed his name to Carr. In 1798, he became 17th Earl of Erroll on his elder brother’s death, and reverted to Hay. Etal then passed to his eldest sister, Lady Augusta Hay, Countess of Glasgow, and from her to her only surviving child, also Augusta, who married Lord Frederick FitzClarence, one of the regiment of illegitimate children begat by King William IV. Both of Lady Frederick FitzClarence’s children pre-deceased her, so on her death in 1876, Etal reverted to the Earl of Erroll.
By this time the Earls of Erroll were woefully short of money and Etal was sold to a Newcastle shipowner, which provided the necessary cash to enable the Errolls to hold onto their historic property of Slains for a little longer. In 1906, it was acquired by James Joicey, a self made Northumerland coal owner, reputed to be the biggest mine owner in the world and nicknamed ‘Old King Coal.’ It is now owned by his great-grandson, the fourth Lord Joicey.
Full details on www.hayfarmheavies.co.uk