In the early 1980s Barry ‘Blue’ Walpole imported a small number of Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) to the Swale Estuary with the intention of establishing whether they could survive in the wild. After much experimenting in the salt marshes on the south shore, which have now been drained and turned into a freshwater habitat for birds, Blue Walpole was able to lay the first wild oyster beds in the UK on the inter-tidal mud of the Swale Estuary, Faversham Creek and Oare Creek.
The Lees Court Oysters are considered to be some of the best Oysters in the world for their consistency, taste and purity. The oysters are hand-picked and hand-cleaned, and therefore do not suffer the impurities and stress of farmed, dredged or machine-processed oysters. The Estate believes that this is a unique means of harvesting oysters from a unique environment, and they have attracted the interest of three-time Michelin-star-winning chef, Garry Hollihead, and the winner of three Michelin-stars and restaurant entrepreneur Marco Pierre White.
The Estate is working closely with Blue Walpole and his family business, Hollowshore Fisheries, to establish a viable commercial opportunity for the future security of the Walpole family, and to realise the potential of the unique Lees Court Oyster.