A unique oak frame stud in Surrey

Based in Surrey, the Thompson family own a 110 acre farm which they have successfully run for over four decades. As her parents were approaching retirement age, in 2005, daughter Mrs Hayley Ringrose (nee Thompson) began researching opportunities to diversify the family business. Hayley wanted to start a new venture that could operate alongside the farm; initially on a part-time basis so she could gradually take over more of the day-to-day farming work and simultaneously grow her own business.

“For as long I can remember, our family has worked with competition horses. We couldn’t imagine life without them,” says Hayley Ringrose. “So, following a chance meeting with one of the top AI (Artificial Insemination) vets in Sussex, who could see demand for a dedicated AI centre, I decided to set up Gryffyns Stud.”

 

Choosing to build with oak

Armed with a strong business plan, the backing of industry professionals and the support of her family, Hayley put pen to paper to outline her vision for the yard.

“I have always loved oak; it’s a lovely, tactile material,” says Hayley. “I could not see the point of building something in blockwork that would undoubtedly deteriorate visually over time, when I could create something beautiful that would last for hundreds of years, and which would cost approximately the same to build.”

Hayley’s decision to build with oak was also based on the hardwearing properties of this natural material. “Like every yard, it would be a fully-operational, working environment so the structure needed to withstand the inevitable everyday wear and tear,” says Hayley. “In spring, the foaling boxes are jet-washed and disinfected, so it was important the primary construction materials had longevity, as well as character.”

Working with Oakwrights

“Oakwrights made the whole process very easy,” Hayley notes. “I knew exactly what dimensions I needed for 10 stables, the veterinary stocks and the feed and equipment store. It was also imperative to be able to provide 24-hour observation, particularly at foaling time, and every aspect of the build needed to be as safe as possible.”

With the help of Oakwrights’ Senior Frame Designer (now Manufacturing Manager) Alex Edey and some initial sketches from Hayley, the concept for this bespoke oak frame yard was created in no time at all. Alex worked closely with Hayley to finalise key design decisions, such as the yard’s orientation to ensure it was south facing. “Positioning the yard in this way has created a stable area that is sheltered and sunny. Due to the enclosed nature and walk through to the turnout paddocks, it is also incredibly safe when leading mares and foals in and out,” says Hayley.

Featuring dragon ties in each corner of the frame, the design also houses a cruck arch in one roof section. This style provides Hayley’s team with the space to not only stay in close proximity to the foaling mares but also the ability to look down onto the foaling boxes through a triangular window from the observation room, without needing to disturb the horses or just relying on CCTV cameras.

“This yard was a dream project to design,” says Alex Edey. “Drawing the structure using 3D modelling software created clear designs which Hayley and I could then work from to determine the exact location for other bespoke aspects, such as the staircase and the spaces upstairs, while ensuring enough headroom throughout.”

“The delivery and erection of the oak frame was amazing,” continues Hayley. “It all fitted together in no time at all and the team were on-site for three days in total! I absolutely love how the yard works and would not change a thing.”

I have always loved oak; it’s a lovely, tactile material