When Thomas Phillips Price died on 28 June 1932, the terms of his Will dictated that his Essex estate would be left to the nation “for the advancement of agriculture, arboriculture and forestry”. During his lifetime he had consulted with Sir George Murray of the Government’s Treasury and Sir David Prain, the Director of Kew Gardens as to his plans.
Whilst the government and the Director of Kew Gardens were aware of Thomas’ final intentions, it wasn’t until Thomas’ wife died in 1966 that they inherited the Estate outright and were able to decide upon its new future.
Thomas had purchased the Estate at an auction in 1897, but unfortunately the arrival of the Second World War proved to have detrimental effects on the Estate. The house had been completely destroyed, the land was in an awful and unmanageable state of disrepair and most of the trees had been leased to the Forestry Commission for commercial forestry.
However, the potential that could be seen by all involved was far too large to ignore and so started a vast scheme of rejuvenation and restoration, that still continues to this day. The Estate was finally opened to the public in 1993.
In 1971 the decision was made to establish the Thomas Phillips Price Trust, which in June 2011 was renamed the Marks Hall Estate.
Marks Hall Estate have now put forward proposals to sell off part of the Estate land, which has attracted a lot of controversy. Since its creation, the A120 directly divides parcels of land owned by the Estate and it is one of these isolated sections of land that is now subject to development proposals.
The proposed scheme, in conjunction with Honywood Community Science School, could see approximately 300 new homes being built on the site of the current school grounds. This would, in turn, fund the development of a new multi-million pound school building.
Local residents and members of the Coggeshall Community Action Group have expressed their concerns over these new proposals, claiming that the area does not have the infrastructure to support such a drastic increase in population.
Speaking on BBC Radio Essex this morning, Meriel Barclay, one of the Trustees of the Estate, explained that the development could potentially bring in £5million for Marks Hall Estate. When asked what these funds would be spent on, she named just a couple of examples, such as the re-introduction of deer into the Estate and to buy back the leased trees from the Forestry Commission so that they could manage the forest themselves.
Speaking on behalf of the other Trustees, Mrs Barclay said that she believes it is in the best interests of both the Estate and of the nation, to whom the Estate was first bequeathed, to proceed with the proposed scheme.
As the consultation period continues, further information can be obtained from Marks Hall Estate by clicking here.
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