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Project: Brackenhurst - The historic link

NTU’s School of Animal Rural and Environmental Sciences is located 15 miles north of Nottingham on a former country estate, Brackenhurst, founded by Rev Thomas Cane in 1828. Cane’s grandson, Charles, emigrated to Kenya in 1914 and founded a Brackenhurst of his own, 20 miles north-west of Nairobi, near a small town called Limuru. Today, there is a great friendship between the two of us, and a surprising synergy around the promotion of conservation, sustainability and the environment.

Brackenhurst in Southwell, Nottinghamshire(UK)

Brackenhurst Campus estate

Brackenhurst campus NTU (School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences)


  • The house was originally built by Reverend Thomas Coats Cane of Halloughton, who bought three fields at the top of the hill in 1827, completing the house in 1828. Thomas was educated at St John's College Cambridge and ordained a deacon and priest in 1824. He was squarson' reverend, both a farmer and landowner and bred cattle and pigs on the estate.


  • During the First World War the hall was used as one of 17 auxiliary hospitals in Nottinghamshire by the military for servicemen recovering from injury.


  • Nottingham Farm Institute was established. World War Il had left the country short of food and skilled farm workers. The Ministry of Agriculture searched for locations to accommodate men to train in the skills necessary for farming, one within each county. A suitable large house and associated farmland was sought in Nottinghamshire. Brackenhurst was thought to combine an excellent farm with large hall providing an ideal location. The Council made the necessary purchase in 1947, buying the Hall and 260 acres.

Throughout the intervening years Brackenhurst underwent a number of changes, but since 1947 has remained a place of learning.


Brackenhurst campus is much loved by all who visit and study there.

Brackenhurst in Limuru (Kenya)

Kenya House 2

Brackenhurst Conferences and Retreats


  • Established by Charles Hudson Boileau Cane. Charles was the grandson of Rev Thomas Coats Cane. Emigrating to Kenya in the early 20th Century, Charles established Brackenhurst in Limuru, Tigoni. Known as 'Three Trees Farm" due to the three large muna trees left standing on the property, Brackenhurst was begun with the intention of creating a coffee farm. However, with the start of the first World War, Charles and his wife Violet soon found themselves providing holidays for battle-weary British soldiers. This marked the beginning of Brackenhurst's heritage as a centre for hospitality.


  • Surviving several decades, Brackenhurst Hotel was bought by the Baptist Mission of Kenya in 1964, who began to use its beautiful grounds for team-building, conferencing, and adventuring.


  • Brackenhurst Conferences and Retreats developed a strong relationship with Plants for Life International, an NGO focusing on  environmental conservation, who embarked on a 30-year project to restore the surrounding land. As a result, a vast indigenous forest grew on Brackenhurst soil for the first time since 1914. The forest provides a habitat for the restoration of some of the natural wildlife that once abounded in Tigoni.