Hunts Court Farm became home to the Martells in 1972. Shortly afterwards forever concerned to maintain good rural heritage, Charles began breeding the critically endangered Old Gloucester cows and making cheese with their milk. The cheese-making started with researching and reviving the making of Single Gloucester cheese because it had died out. It is a fine undervalued younger sister of the better known Double Gloucester. In 1997 Charles succeeded in getting Single Gloucester cheese the coveted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). So it now ranks alongside Stilton cheese and Champagne. There are now seven cheesemakers producing this cheese in its restricted range of Gloucestershire. All makers must have a herd of Old Gloucester cows on their farm.
Over the past four decades, Charles has developed a range of hard and soft cheeses, the best known being Stinking Bishop.
Further, impressed by the magnificent perry pear trees on his farm and the surrounding area (Dymock lies at the heart of perry pear country) he began looking for examples of the 100 or so old varieties ‘because no-one else was, and they appeared to be dying out’. He grafted and re-planted them before they became extinct. The Hunts Court Farm trees with names like ‘Painted Lady’, ‘Hedgehog Pear’ and ‘Spirit Pear’, are now bearing useful quantities of fruit – which is fortuitous because the provenance of an old building on the farm has recently come to light. Timber framed, it dates from the 1600s and was documented as a ‘distilling house’ up until 1810, when government legislation closed it along with other small distilleries.
With a fine sense of timing Charles re-opened the old distillery in 2010 – distilling his fermented fruit, cider and perry, as it would have been 200 years ago.