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UK’s 50 Biggest Landowners

Who owns the UK? This question once upon a time was an easy answer – royals and nobility. But in more recent times property investments has opened up to many, with charity and foreign businesses taking a piece of the pie.

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Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

It’s not hard to see why – in 2018 there were over 750,000 property millionaires in Britain. So, then who owns this island? New research by ABC Finance Ltd. sets out to answer this puzzling question.

Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

Their research shows that surprisingly, charitable organisations and environmental interests own more land than the royal family. In fact, they own double the amount of land than the Royals. The British Royalty and Nobility control just 3% of the UK, with the crown estate placing third in the UK land ownership leaderboard.

Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

So how much does Queen Elizabeth II personally own? From a list of the Top 50 Landowners in the UK, the Queen only places 35th, with 20,000 acres of land in her possession. Still, this land could fit Buckingham Palace into it over 1,000 times. Whilst the leader of the top 50 UK land owners with 2,200,000 acres is the Forestry Commission, closely followed by the Ministry of Defence with 1,101,851 acres.

Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

Foreign Interests

Is the UK owned by UK residents? Apparently not. Astonishingly, foreign companies, royalty or business moguls make up a significant proportion of the top 50. Substantial enough to build 23m average sized UK homes.

Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

The top of the foreign landowner is believed to be retail tycoon, Anders Holch Povlsen. The fashion retail mogul owns Vero Moda, Jack & Jones and a whopping 218,364 acres of the UK. That’s 10 times the size of his native capital Copenhagen. Povlsen owns 36% more acres than the 7th Duke of Westminster and 38% more than Duchy of Cornwall.

Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

Other foreign companies and individuals, such as Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings (17th place) and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (19th place) reside high on the list, together owning 132,294 acres. Both of these foreign property moguls own more than the 12th Duke of Beaufort, Henry Somerset and Hugh Lowther, 8th Earl of Lonsdale. Even owning more than some British entrepreneurs and large business owners.

Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

Royals Lose Land Crown British Entrepreneurs

British Entrepreneurs

Leading the UK land ownership amongst the British entrepreneurs is the British inventor and founder of the Dyson company. Amazingly, Sir James Dyson owns enough land to fit Wembley Stadium 3000 times over and 13,000 more acres of land than the Queen. However, Michael Cannon, the pub magnate owns 20% less than Queen Elizabeth II but remarkably his land is enough to accommodate 320 side by side versions of the St James’s Gate Guinness Brewery.

UK Land Ownership Leaderboard

#Land OwnerAcres
1FORESTRY COMMISSION2,200,000
2MINISTRY OF DEFENCE1,101,851
3CROWN ESTATE678,420
4NATIONAL TRUST & NATIONAL TRUST FOR SCOTLAND589,748
5RSPB332,000
6RICHARD SCOTT, DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH & QUEENSBERRY280,000
7ANDERS HOLCH POVLSEN218,364
8THE DUKE OF ATHOLL’S TRUSTS145,000
9UNITED UTILITIES140,124
10HUGH GROSVENOR, 7TH DUKE OF WESTMINSTER140,000
11DUCHY OF CORNWALL135,000
12DEFRA116,309
13CHURCH OF ENGLAND105,000
14DWR CYMRU CYFYNGEDIG (WELSH WATER)77,975
15JOHN WHITTAKER (PEEL GROUP)70,000
16SALTAIRE WATER70,000
17CHEUNG KONG INFRASTRUCTURE HOLDINGS69,294
18MRH MINERALS67,935
19SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL-MAKTOUM63,000
20HENRY SOMERSET, 12TH DUKE OF BEAUFORT52,000
21SEVERN TRENT51,668
22LAFARGEHOLCIM48,557
23ROBERT WARREN MILLER36,000
24HUGH LOWTHER, 8TH EARL OF LONSDALE35,269
25SIR JAMES DYSON33,000
26ROGER TEMPEST25,516
27ZAMBRANO FAMILY25,340
28COUNT LUCA RINALDO CONTARDO PADULLI DI VIGHIGNOLO25,000
29ANDREW RUSSELL, 15TH DUKE OF BEDFORD21,474
30STEFAN PERSSON21,373
31HARWORTH GROUP21,000
32EDWARD GUINNESS, 4TH EARL OF IVEAGH20,664
33HEIDELBERGCEMENT20,534
34CORLAND MINERALS20,371
35QUEEN ELIZABETH II20,000
36JOHN SAVILE, 8TH EARL OF MEXBOROUGH20,000
37HOMES ENGLAND19,349
38JOHN CLARK18,119
39MICHAEL STONE18,000
40SIR LYONEL HUMPHREY JOHN TOLLEMACHE, 7TH BARONET17,908
41RATHBONE BROTHERS17,854
42OSPREY CONSORTIUM17,607
43VALERO ENERGY17,216
44MICHAEL CANNON16,001
45RICHARD KELVIN-HUGHES16,000
46KEMBLE WATER HOLDINGS15,987
47PENNON GROUP15,816
48MERTON COLLEGE, OXFORD UNIVERSITY14,707
49TAYLOR WIMPEY14,684
50HONOURABLE ARTILLERY COMPANY14,209

*Data sourced from Love Money, Who Owns England and additional public records research

Discover more about the UK’s top 50 landowners.