Glamping cabins and trendy cafe. How Pippa Middleton is copying Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat Farm
The mix of solid middle-class values and homey informality personified by the Middleton family has been a cornerstone of the loving relationship between Prince William and his wife Kate.
Also center stage is the old Middletons base in the Berkshire village of Bucklebury, where the family has run a party accessories business since 1987.
Now they have big plans to expand the family business, with Kate’s younger sister Pippa and her multi-millionaire James Matthews hoping to develop a 77-acre Bucklebury Farm Park, where they already have a petting zoo, cafe and cabin for about 30 acres. .
Detailed plans for what is billed as ‘Pippa’s Playground’ – seen by The Mail on Sunday – show the intention to create a busy complex with glamping huts, a farm shop and restaurant.
Pippa Middleton and her husband James Matthews hope to develop 77 acres of Bucklebury Farm Park in Berkshire, where they already have a petting zoo, cafe and cabin.
The project includes refurbishing the zoo, building a children’s play center in buildings with eco-friendly wooden decking, and creating a tree plantation and display of retro farm vehicles painted in pastels.
The entire site will be decorated with twinkling lanterns. Their vision is in line with the current chic trend of fashionable day visit centers and places that offer ‘human health activities’.
The couple plans to create a complex with glamping cabins, farm shop and restaurant
At the forefront of such ventures was Soho Farmhouse, spread over 100 acres in Oxfordshire and inspired by American cabin culture.
It offers guests ‘a home-made and personal feel – like a guest house on a farm’.
Then there’s TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat Farm Shop in the Cotswolds, where he sells locally grown vegetables and recently opened a restaurant.
Visitors are treated to spotting animals such as llamas, deer and goats in the safari park
Inevitably, some critics will suggest that marketing for Bucklebury Farm Park may cynically attempt to capitalize on the family’s royal connections.
After Kate Middleton first began dating Prince William, her parents were accused of exploiting their ties to his family by selling their party company’s range of Royal Wedding memorabilia.
Such concerns will be exacerbated by the promotion of some of the facilities already in place at the Bucklebury site.
Six log cabins with safari style tent doors are currently available to rent for £1,400 per week.
They are managed in partnership with Feather Down, a small booking company that specializes in cabin rental on boutique farms.
The plans look like a similar development at Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat Farm (pictured)
The ‘stay’ section of Pippa’s recently revamped website redirects visitors to Feather Down’s booking page, which highlights its royal connection, teasing it with mention of ‘real-life royalty’.
It also reads: ‘Just a 15-minute walk from the farm, the village of Bucklebury was Kate Middleton’s home before she married Prince William.’
Naming the future king and queen is undoubtedly a big draw – although the website also informs readers that a short drive away is ‘Highclere, the fictional setting for the TV series Downton Abbey’.
Locals say that while visitors to the safari park will mainly spot animals such as llamas, deer and goats, they can’t be blamed for trying to see if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children – Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis and George – maybe play around while they are with their maternal grandparents.
All three children stay in Bucklebury about once a month with Carole and Michael Middleton, who often take them to the park’s extensive children’s play area.
According to the locals, the young people love Bucklebury and enjoy ‘mucking’.
Jeremy Clarkson stands outside his Diddly Squat farm shop in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
Plans submitted to West Berkshire Council show the new main building is modeled after a massive £5million, glazed canalside pub in Swindon, built by Badger Beers, a Dorset craft brewery that offers tours of the brewery , sell merchandise and welcome children. ‘little treasures’.
The Bucklebury space has been designed to house a huge double-height dining room with space for over 20 tables – perfect for a small wedding – as well as a cafe and farm shop selling local produce.
Although the farm is Pippa’s pet project, sources say Carole, 67, is the driving force behind what would be a new venture that would host children’s parties — something that has been her specialty since the founding of the lucrative mail-order company Party Pieces 35 years ago.
Bucklebury Farm Park is close to the home of Pippa’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton
She oversaw the installation of an indoor party space made of stylish woven larch and appointed an event manager to be responsible for children’s event requests.
A ‘party package’ costs £1,350 for 30 children and includes luxury lunch boxes served in a marquee, a homemade cake, party bags and personalized invitations.
There may also be parties for Ukrainian refugees. An event ticketed to the villagers in Bucklebury called a ‘Picnic at the Farm’ that took place on July 10 would have been a ‘practice run’ for Carole’s plan to hold regular social gatherings at the farm for Bucklebury’s refugee community.
Ukrainians are not required to pay to visit the park, which normally charges £85 for an adult membership.
Carole is also credited with revamping a gleaming temporary renovation of the cafe, which does a roaring trade in oat milk lattes, sandwiches and artisanal ice cream.
Some say it was Carole who first encouraged Pippa and her husband, James, 46, to invest in the venture in 2020 through his Mayfair hedge fund Eden Rock Capital.
The move was inspired by Pippa’s passion for the village, where she has lived since she was 11.
James called it Pippa’s Playground for business purposes and brought local friends Jamie Murray and Oliver Shute on board as co-investors.
They think the company will inject £2.3 million into the area and create many jobs.
A draft document for the expanded venture, submitted in May, describes the project as “big” and suggests there would be queues at the entrance.
The document, prepared by the chic company Rural Solutions, which specialize in pubs, galleries and wedding venues, says: ‘The steeply pitched roof offers shelter to those paying or queuing… a covered entrance is proposed. to create a vestibule in the area between the existing café and the new farm shop extension.’
Emphasis is on using ‘renewable energy’ [to meet] challenges of climate change’, with solar panels and a ‘native species hedge’ and realigning a fence to control deer.
Images in a glossy 367-page brochure show complete design plans, maps of the area and the location of a nearby sewerage work. Rural Solutions has a large number of projects, such as an ice cream farm in Cheshire, which it says is responding to ‘consumer demand for play experiences’.
The current glamping site will be developed as part of wider development under the plans
It has worked on other programs that include “wild” lodging, tree houses, wildlife safaris, birdwatching and forest bathing. It takes a ‘holistic approach’ and adds, ‘We are so proud to work with such dynamic, diverse and driven clients.’
Last month, some of the final details for Pippa’s Playground were signed by the council and full approval is expected soon.
A regular visitor to the farm told the MoS, “By the end of this summer it will be full speed ahead.
“They want to expand the glamping, the family area, the restaurants and would like to use it as an event space. They’re going to completely transform it. The staff describes it as “Pippa’s project”.
Bucklebury is fast becoming a Middleton empire. “So far they have done what they could to refurbish the main visitor shed within the planning constraints and it looks so much better. If phase two is anything like what they’ve already done, it looks very classy.”
Pippa is also very busy on a personal level. She has just given birth to her third child – a girl named Rose – and is in the process of moving from Chelsea, South West London, to a large Georgian estate 14 miles from the Berkshire farm that she and James bought due to its proximity to the business, but also for its prestigious fishing beats.
Pippa has fought what was seen as an unfair image as a party animal and once said, “People see me as a privileged person who has used my position to advantage; that I don’t really work, that I’m a socialite – that word really annoys me – and that I’m a party animal without any substance.’
She studied English literature at the University of Edinburgh and became a ‘celebrity’ columnist for Waitrose Kitchen and Vanity Fair magazines and a Sunday newspaper.
Earlier this year, her spokesperson told The Mail on Sunday that she had returned to “refocusing on her studies”, whispering that she had taken a business administration course.
She received a £400,000 advance from publishers ten years ago to write a book, Celebrate, on the art of entertaining, and bravely fought off teasing about some of her advice, such as the proper method of To cut a sandwich with a bread knife is ‘with a single up and down cutting motion’.
Undeterred, the younger sister of the future Queen wants to prove herself as an independent businesswoman and take control of Pippa’s Playground with gusto.