Ian Chandler, Arboretum Manager at Markshall Estate in Colchester, on its colourful history and why it’s wonderful to welcome back sculpture into the Walled Garden
Could you give us a potted history of Markshall Estate?
A dwelling had existed at Markshall for centuries and also appears in the Doomsday Book. Left ‘to the Nation’ in his Last Will and Testament by the last owner Thomas Phillips Price on the death of his wife, for the Advancement of Agriculture, Arboriculture and Forestry. Thomas Phillips Price died in 1932. Outlived by his wife by 34 years the intervening years were not kind. By then the mature Oaks in the Deer Park had been felled, the formal gardens and deer park overgrown, and the Estate scarred by its involvement in the Second World War.
The Thomas Phillips Price Trust was established in 1971 and instigated a programme of clearing, landscaping, and renovation with the view ‘to develop a landscape with a range of historical, botanical and geographical experiences and interest throughout the seasons.’ The Arboretum and Visitor Centre was opened to the public in 1992 and the Arboretum houses a collection of trees, planted on a geographical basis from around the temperate parts of the globe. It is also home to a Walled Garden with five contemporary gardens within the old walls.
What is your role there and how long have you been working at the Estate?
My role is Arboretum Manager and have been fortunate enough to work here now for almost 25 years.
What do you love about being a part of Markshall Estate?
The sense of reward to be involved in creating a unique landscape within the Gardens and Arboretum, and the chance to manage the special woodlands within the Estate.
What can we expect to see at Sculpture in the Walled Garden?
A wide range of art pieces of all shapes and sizes for all budgets in the beautifully kept Gardens within the Arboretum. Sculpture in the Walled Garden is an important event for Markshall Charity. We are delighted that the exhibition will be coming back for the fourth time. It was really missed by visitors, due to the pandemic, and we cannot wait to welcome visitors back to see the sculptures.
Sculpture in the Walled Garden is a real highlight on the Markshall Estate calendar. It is hugely popular and makes more people aware about the important work undertaken by the Charitable Trust, especially this year as the charity celebrates its 50th anniversary. Driving awareness and encouraging visitors is vital in securing the future of Markshall Estate for everyone’s enjoyment.
Why do you think it is always such a popular exhibition?
I think it makes people look at their own gardens very differently and realise that the natural plantings can be enhanced with the unexpected.
What else is coming up this year at Markshall Estate?
As well as a popular Sculpture Exhibition this summer, Markshall Estate will be hosting a range of events such outdoor theatre, photography workshops and an exciting Christmas events programme.
Do you live locally?
I’m actually lucky enough to live on site at Markshall Estate
Markshall Estate aside, if you had to choose three places to visit where you live or further afield in Essex, where would you decide on?
I would have to pickRHS Hyde Hall, Beth Chatto Gardens and Audley End Gardens.
With summer approaching, do you have any favourite outdoor spots to make the most of the sunshine?
Dedham Vale or the Stour Valley has some lovely spots.