'Himalayas' and new lake being created in Essex

Essex: Markshall Estate's walled garden in Coggeshall, seen from the air

Markshall Estate's walled garden - Credit: Ian Chandler / Markshall Estate

The biggest project in a charity's 50-year history is underway, to create a replica of the Himalayas and add a new lake.

Markshall Estate in Coggeshall covers 2,200 acres of Essex countryside and is home to trees from across the world. It includes an Arboretum, woodland walks, formal gardens, and tenanted farmland.

Wollemi nobilis around the pond at Gondwanaland, Markshall Estate

Wollemi nobilis around the pond at Gondwanaland, Markshall Estate, Essex - Credit: Bryan Shaw/ Markshall Estate

The upper lake at Markshall Estate, Coggeshall, Essex. Image shows trees and reflections in the lake

The upper lake at Markshall Estate, Essex - Credit: Bryan Shaw/ Markshall Estate

The estate's last private owner, Thomas Phillips Price, gave it as a gift to the nation.

Landscaping and changes are underway at the Arboretum's north end and the project could be finished within 12 months.

Over 10 acres of land are being transformed into a replica of the Himalayas and a large new lake will be installed nearby. The plans also include a Ginkgo Forest.

The land under development was historically let to the Forestry Commission to grow conifers.

Ten acres belonging to the Forestry Commission were felled in 2018, and the land was returned to the Markshall Estate.

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Since then, the small team of arborists, estate workers and volunteers have grubbed out roots, cleared brash and remaining arisings by hand.

The area is now being re-landscaped, with 17,000 cubic metres of soil from a nearby business park development moved to form low hills, nicknamed the Himalayas.

Over time, grasses will establish to match the rest of the Arboretum.

On the other side of Robins Brook, an attenuation lake is under development.

The lake will take surface water from Earls Colne Business Park but will also hold large amounts of runoff during heavy rainfall, dispersing slowly into nearby Robins Brook, helping to protect Coggeshall from future flash floods.

Iain King, who has spent 30 years at Markshall Estate, Coggeshall, Essex

Iain King, who has spent 30 years at Markshall Estate, Coggeshall - Credit: Bryan Shaw/ Markshall Estate

The news comes as estate worker Iain King celebrates spending 30 years nurturing the landscape.

Iain joined the team after leaving college at age 17, initially starting with work experience which turned into a full career.

“When I first joined the team in 1992, there was just the Walled Garden and immediate surrounding areas," he said.

Since then, he has helped to develop the geographic zones, from planting 200 Eucalyptus to ensuring the survival of some of its rare specimens.

He also helped to rebuild the Walled Garden which reopened in 2003.

During the summer Markshall Estate is open daily from July 23 to September 4, 10am to 6pm, with last admissions at 4.30pm.

Admission charges apply and Friends membership is available. See www.markshall.org.uk