Preserving History and Family Legacy: A Visit by the USA Owners of the Harpur Crewe Estate in the UK


Preserving History and Family Legacy: A Visit by the USA Owners of the Harpur Crewe Estate in the UK
Agent Contact:
Amy Biddell
Agent Details:

Nestled in the picturesque village of Ticknall, the Harpur Crewe Estate is a testament to English history but also a story of international connections and dedication to preserving buildings and family heritage.

Recently, Mather Jamie had the pleasure of hosting David Johnson and his wife, Pam Johnson, whose family are the heirs to this remarkable estate, as they embarked on their first visit since 2019 due to Covid restrictions.

Their connection to this historic estate is not only fascinating but also a testament to the importance of family heritage and preservation.

A Legacy Unraveled: Inheritance of the Harpur Crewe Estate

The Harpur Crewe family has held ownership over this estate since the 1500s, weaving their legacy into the very fabric of the community. However, the last surviving members of the Harpur Crewe family found themselves without heirs in the late 20th century.

The intricate unravelling of inheritance rights brought David Johnson’s late father, Andrew Johnson, from Vermont, USA, into the spotlight as the last surviving heir. In 1999, the Johnson family officially inherited the Harpur Crewe Estate and later formed The Harpur Crewe LLC to manage and safeguard its future.

The path to their inheritance is a convoluted yet captivating narrative and determining the rightful owners involved tracing back through the Harpur Crewe family tree, which meandered from brother to brother to sister and ultimately led them down a different branch of the extended family.

Local historians and the National Trust prepared a fact sheet detailing this complex journey, which underscores the uniqueness of this inheritance. This PDF explains the full story with some interesting anecdotes, extracts from Wills and fascinating family photos.

Read PDF

The Harpur Crewe Estate: A Rich Tapestry of Properties and History

The Harpur Crewe Estate now comprises 71 let residential properties, 2 holiday cottages, 3 farms, 1,700 acres of let agricultural and allotment garden land.  Additionally, it includes an equestrian therapy centre, fishing rights and the quaint yet intriguing "Lock up" gaol in Ticknall. This historical and diverse portfolio reflects the estate's rich history and its commitment to the community.

Beyond this, The Harpur Crewe LLC is also landowner of significant part of a residential and industrial development site on the edge of Derby, and a major contributor to the region's economic growth and prosperity.

The Infinity Park and Infinity Garden Village projects bear the imprint of the Johnson family's commitment to regional development.

Preserving for Posterity: The Johnson Family's Vision

Having inherited the estate, Andrew Johnson, the patriarch of the Johnson family, had an ambitious vision for the future of the Harpur Crewe Estate. His aspiration was a 500-year plan, ensuring the estate's continuity for generations to come.

To fulfil this vision, the Johnson family formed The Harpur Crewe LLC, with Andrew's surviving children, David, Ken, and Carolyn, at the helm.

Our client, David Johnson is the current Managing Director, overseeing the day-to-day operations and ensuring the estate's preservation.

The Role of Mather Jamie: Stewards of the Estate

Mather Jamie became involved with the Harpur Crewe Estate in 1999, during the probate valuations process following the passing of Miss Airmyne Harpur Crewe.

Our expertise proved invaluable during this transitional period. As the resident managing agent approached retirement, the Johnson family entrusted our former Director Martin Ward and the team at Mather Jamie to manage the estate on their behalf.

Mather Jamie Director Amy Biddell has been overseeing its management since 2013, and hosted Pam and David during their visit.  Amy is ably assisted by Amber Forster, Mark Brandon and Victoria James.

A Much-Awaited Visit: Reconnecting with the Estate

Dave and Pam Johnson have made it a tradition to visit the Harpur Crewe Estate annually since Dave assumed the role of managing director following his father's passing in December 2014.

However, the global pandemic disrupted this tradition, preventing their visit since 2019. Consequently, their recent two-week stay was filled with catching up on the developments that have unfolded in their absence as well as meeting and speaking to estate tenants and the wider Ticknall community.

During their visit, they had the opportunity to witness a significant residential barn conversion project designed to create a disabled-accessible property on the estate.  

They were also able to view the many substantial improvements in thermal efficiency that have been made to the estate's cottages since their last visit, aligning with their commitment to sustainability and modern comfort.

Additionally, they explored the ongoing projects at Infinity Park Derby, including a tour of the new Oregon Timber factory, a testament to their dedication to regional development and progress.

Infinity Park Derby is a unique collaboration between Derby City Council, the Harpur Crewe Estate, Rolls-Royce and developers Cedar House, Wilson Bowden and Peveril Securities.

The 100 acre Park is located to the south of the city, next to the world headquarters of Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace and within 15 minutes of OEMs such as Toyota Manufacturing (UK), Bombardier and JCB. Plots are available on a design-and-build basis, and can be purposed for anything from office-use to industrial distribution.

The centre-piece of Infinity Park is the exciting iHub Derby, a manufacturing-focused innovation and technology park, which has Enterprise Zone status.

Commenting on the visit, Amy Biddell said, “The visit by David and Pam Johnson to the Harpur Crewe Estate serves as a reminder of the enduring connection between family, history, and heritage. Their commitment to preserving this historic estate for future generations, combined with their contributions to regional development, reinforces the importance of stewardship and the legacy of the Harpur Crewe family, now carried forward by the Johnsons.”

David Johnson said, “My family's ancestors moved into Ticknall in 1622. Our family's 400+ year history in that charming village and the surrounding area is the origin of my father's "500-year vision".  For the estate to be successful for the next five centuries it is essential that our properties are kept in excellent condition, made as energy efficient as possible and equipped with the modern features that tenants are looking for.   Amy and her team understand our vision and objectives and continue to successfully implement improvements, new ideas and strategies to enhance our portfolio and ensure that my father’s vision comes true.  I absolutely enjoy every minute of our annual visits and I am thankful to Amy, Mark, Amber, Victoria and the entire Mather Jamie staff for their work on behalf of the Harpur Crewe Estate.” 


Agent Contact:
Amy Biddell
Agent Details: