The Chadacre Agricultural Institute was one of the first in the UK, having been founded and endowed in 1920 by the First Earl of Iveagh whose experience of farming on the Elveden estate had convinced him of the need for sound practical training for people working in agriculture.
The Institute and its 522 acre farm were situated near Hartest, south of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, where it provided a course with a practical bias for 25 students each year.
The Deed of Trust and Constitution states that the object was to provide ‘free agricultural education for the sons of farm labourers, small-holders and small farmers together with the sons of those engaged in trades ancillary to agriculture in Suffolk and neighbouring counties’.
Lectures explaining scientific principles underlining farm practice, and manual instruction in the various skilled farming operations were a special feature of the course. The course of training consisted of two winter periods of six months, so that the students could ‘return to the land at the busy season’. In later years the course was no longer free, although the type of training remained very much as in the early days.
Chadacre became a well-known and respected agricultural institution with an active worldwide Old Student Association (COSA), which thrives today. Over the course of time the requirement for a residential course in agriculture became no longer financially viable, as public demand for such courses declined. Therefore the Governors decided to close the Institute and then to sell the Estate in 1990.
The proceeds of the sale were used to found the Chadacre Agricultural Trust, a registered charity, which is run by a Governing Body, chaired by the Earl of Iveagh. The Governing Body decided that the investment income from the capital fund would be used to continue the original objectives of the old Institute, but in a wider context, relevant to the needs of a modern and developing industry.