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Newstead Farm Essay Contest FAQ


Christi asked:  

This opportunity to own and operate Newstead is absolutely incredible..., a dream that will come true for one talented (and maybe a bit lucky!) winner. However, I can't help thinking to myself "Why?" Why would you give away such a marvelous mansion and farm? I read the FAQ page and couldn't find anything written on why you would want to do this? If this question is too probing, I apologize. My curiosity has gotten the best of me!


Dear Christi, I'm old! That's why! I love Newstead and want to see it go to someone who will love it as I do. This is the prefect way to be able to offer the farm to some deserving person who would not otherwise have that opportunity. CC



1) How much are the property taxes?

Property taxes run about $5,000/year.  Less if the land is kept under land use as it is now.

2) What is the property assessed at?

The Cumberland County assessed value is online.  Click here to view. 

3) Rules indicate that any questions to you as the owner, will void an entry. Are questions about the farm, its facilities, and specifics about the land allowed?

Questions about submissions void an entry.  Questions about the manor house, the farm, its facilities and specifics about the land are encouraged.  Send questions to:

4) What is the roof made of?

Roof shingles are made from Buckingham Slate. Buckingham Slate roofs have a life expectancy of about 150 years.

5) How is the house constructed?

The manor house is constructed of solid hand made brick.  The walls are 13.5" thick.

6) How many rooms does the manor house have?

The floor plan of the manor house is three rooms over three rooms with a large central hall.

7) How many bedrooms and bathrooms does the manor house have?

There are five bedrooms and three and one half bathrooms.

8) How is the manor house heated?

The manor house is heated with radiators containing circulating hot water provided by an oil fired boiler.

9)  What are your typical heating and cooling bills?

Typical heating and cooling bills vary with the climate.  When the price of fuel oil is high, during winter I often burn wood in the two Buck Stove fireplace inserts.

10) Is the manor house air conditioned?

The master suite of the manor house is air conditioned. The manor house usually does not need air conditioning due to the 13+inch thick solid brick construction. Fans in the windows at night pull in cool air and the house stays cool all day.

11) What type of water do you have on the property?  How many wells?

There are two streams on the property. There are no lakes. All paddocks have 2-50 gallon stock tanks.

Newstead Farm has a deep water well.  There are two wells on the farm. One for the manor house, one for the cabin.

12) Is there water and electric in the barn?

The barn water and electric service is underground from the manor house.

14) May I visit with you personally?

No. This would give some an unfair advantage.

15) Is the manor house in good repair?

Yes. The exterior and interior is painted on an as needed basis. Last year much of the exterior white trim was painted. This year the south shutters were primed and given two coats of paint. This year the grand hall upstairs and downstairs and one bathroom were repainted . 

16) How many people maintain the property?

I supervise maintenance of the property. I love to mow so, I mow the lawn and bush hog the fields as needed. The hay field is rented on shares. Local handy men do the weed eating, tree maintenance and maintain the fence as needed.   I budget about $2,000/year for maintenance of the manor house. 

17)  Does the requirement that I agree to operate the property as a farm for a period of at least one year after the transfer mean I have to operate commercially and generate a certain amount of revenue?

There is no requirement that you operate commercially or generate a certain amount of revenue.

18)  Can I run it as a family farm to provide sustenance and joy for my family?


19)  Would I need to be physically present for the entire year period?

There is no requirement that the owner be physically present. The owner may take a take more of a managerial role.

20)  What are the transfer/property taxes expected to be?

Everyone's financial situation is different.  My crystal ball is not operating well enough for me to answer this question. Speculating about what the tax liability will be won't help you. See your tax professional for an estimation of what taxes may be due if you are the winner.

21) Are the contents of the manor house included?

No.  Contents of the manor house are not included, but will be available for a nominal cost.

22) What is your definition of immediate family members of past owners?

The immediate family is a defined group of relations, used in rules or laws to determine which members of a person's family are affected by those rules. It normally includes a person's parents, spouses, siblings, children and first cousins.

23) What business ventures are you conducting with the property and the animals?

Newstead Manor is open as a wedding venue.  Venue rental is $2,250/day. The apartment at Newstead is offered for rent on Katahdin Sheep are bred, lambed and sold from the farm. Katadin lambs sell for $180/head.  The cabin at Newstead is leased for $200/month.

24)  Any problems with flooding?

No.  The manor house and outbuildings are on high ground about one mile from the James River .

25) Any potential of fracking on your farm or in the immediate area?

I am not aware of any potential for fracking on Newstead Farm or in the immediate area.

26)  What are the school systems like?

Cumberland Public Schools have wonderful new facilities.  The quality of the education seems to be up for debate. See: Virginia Public School Review and Virginia Report Card 

27) What is the closest military base?

  I believe that information is available at

28)  How do you plan to advertise this contest?

Newstead Farm Essay Contest is promoted on Facebook, on, word-of-mouth and via press releases to new media including magazine, newspaper, online, and television.

See Articles Link


29) May I visit the farm and tour the manor house?

No. Visiting the farm will void your entry. The contest is world wide.  Allowing some essayists to visit when others could not would not be fair.

30) What is the condition of the roads on the property and are they paved or rock?

The roads on Newstead farm are in good condition and are surfaced with crushed slate.

31) What is the soil type in your fields?

See: Soil info for Cumberland County VA  

32) Have the fields been only in Hay for some time?

Newstead Farm has raised hay, cattle, horses and sheep.  The fields at Newstead have been in grass and hay for the past 21 years that I know of.

33) I am a vegetable farmer and am unsure if the soil is suitable for vegetable production or if it is best suited to raising animals.

Sunnyside Farms has some land in production near Newstead and produces tomatoes, vibrant eggplants, bell peppers, summer squash, and just about every other veggie you can grow for over 15 years. They’ve got 110 acres under irrigation in Cumberland, VA.

34) Have you had the water tested in recent times, if so were there any issues with the water?

The water has not been tested since I moved here 21 years ago.  The well is deep, the water is sweet and there have been no issues with the water.

35) How many animals are included with the property?

Not knowing what the new owner would want, no animals are included in the prize, but are available for purchase. Newstead Farm is home to a flock of Katahdin sheep, a Great Pyrenees guardian dog, a Jack Russell varmint dog and four Morgan Horses.  The flock consists of one ram and eighteen ewes.

36) Is any farming equipment included (tractors, implements)?

There is a Massy Ferguson 245 tractor in good condition available for purchase, a three point spear to move hay and an old bush hog.

37) Do the appliances come in the home or ones need to be provided?

All appliances are included in the prize. 

38) How old is the barn, its size, condition of building?

The barn is a stuccoed concrete block building with a concrete floor built during the 1940's and renovated in about 2004, capped with a vinyl sided copula and brass horse weather vane. There are eight oak double cribbed stalls with sliding doors and a center isle.  The separate tack and feed are connected to the barn with a breezeway which can be used for carriage storage. The tack room has a Vermont Castings wood stove, custom built harness storage cabinet, kitchen cabinets, counter and sink. 

39)  What kind of condition are the fences in?

Fences are in good condition.

40)  Would you be willing to teach the winner at least some of the basics of taking care of the manor, horses, and sheep?



41) How much (estimated percentage) of the land is in good or decent condition for grazing goats, sheep, cows, and/or horses?

Below is an aerial view showing approximate boundaries and open land of Newstead Farm. Manor House is located under red balloon.  Barn is to the upper right. All open land is fenced for grazing except for lower hayfield.

42)  May I submit photographs with my essay?

No.  To ensure a uniform playing field all entries must be uniform.  













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Carol Carper, Certified Wedding Planner, is webmaster  

and owner/manager of Newstead On The James LLC

an event destination venue located halfway between Richmond and Charlottesville VA.  

Contact Carol at 804.375.3666 or email




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