Aug 132020

Chair - Marks Hall Estate

About Marks Hall Estate

Marks Hall Estate is a registered charity established by the Charity Commission in 1971. The charitable object is ‘the advancement, in the interests of the nation, of agriculture, arboriculture and forestry’. This was established by the Edwardian conservationist and MP Thomas Phillips Price (1844-1932) the last private owner of the Estate who bequeathed the Estate to the nation in his will. The charitable trust is governed by a Board of Trustees appointed to oversee the strategic direction, financial health, and governance of the charity.

The Estate covers an area of some 2,350-acres and comprises a 200-acre arboretum of national significance, with ornamental lakes and a 2-acre walled garden unique in that it only has walls on three sides; 1350-acres of tenanted farm holdings; 405-acres of woodland which includes 265-acres of small leaved lime ancient woodland of high conservation value, and coniferous woodland managed by the Forestry Commission. In addition, there are some 95-acres of parkland and 100-acres of commercial and residential property, tracks, and roads. The geographically zoned landscape Arboretum features collections of trees and plants of national and international importance. The Estate is home to three National Tree Champions; two ancient oak trees some 800 years old; and what is believed to be the largest collection of Wollemi Pines outside the southern hemisphere. It is a sanctuary for endangered species of butterflies and bats. Marks Hall Estate was requisitioned during the Second World War and was a base for RAF and US fighter and bomber squadrons. Some of the buildings and concrete roads laid during that time are still evident.

Marks Hall Estate has nine Trustees in addition to the Chair, 28 staff and some 70 volunteers. Revenue is generated from letting residential and commercial estate property, admission and membership fees for the Arboretum, and secondary spend through the Orchard Kitchen café, shop, Plant Centre, and firewood business. Marks Hall Enterprises Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary which brings in income from weddings and various events held in the Coach House and wider Estate.

In 2018, a new Executive Director was appointed and, in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the charity in 2021, the Trustees have adopted a ‘whole estate’ approach to the organisation’s development in line with our charitable object. The five-year strategy is in draft form and will take forward Thomas Phillips Price’s vision adopting a more sustainable approach to land use, farming and woodland management; greater conservation programmes protecting trees and biodiversity; maximising environmental sustainability and countering the threat of climate change.

A significant range of developments are planned for public engagement with a strong focus on local initiatives to strengthen the Estate’s position in local communities. These will include site-wide interpretation and education activities focused on nature-based learning.

Our current Chair Meriel Barclay is stepping down after successful leadership as Chair for three years, and membership of the Board for 11 years. We are seeking a new Chair to join the Board at an exciting and challenging time for the Charity. Key areas of focus will be:

  • Taking forward the new strategy
  • Building local and regional profile and harnessing a wide network of contacts
  • Building financial sustainability and resilience in a time of significant external risk
  • And, critically, enhancing the Estate’s environmental sustainability, building on the current contribution from the Arboretum, woodland management, conservation, and agricultural land use.

Navigating the Board, staff and volunteers through the future uncertainties posed by COVID 19, Brexit and climate change to achieve these goals will require skill and expertise.

Role Description

To lead the Board of Trustees ensuring that it fulfils its responsibilities for the probity, governance, financial health, and strategic direction of Marks Hall Estate.

The Chair:

  • ensures that the organisation complies with its charitable objectives as expressed in the will of Thomas Philips Price, and its responsibilities for the effective governance of the Charity, together with charity law and regulatory guidelines;
  • holds the Board and staff team to account for MHE’s mission, vision, and values, providing inclusive leadership to the Trustees, ensuring that the Board functions as a cohesive team;
  • is an ambassador for and public face of MHE in partnership with the Executive Director;
  • maintains an oversight of the finances of MHE and of significant projects;
  • leads the board and staff team on the significant fundraising required to implement the strategy over the next five years.

Main duties

  • Planning Board meetings in conjunction with the Executive Director
  • Working with the Executive Director and senior staff to promote the delivery of the Charity’s agreed strategy, including the development of high-quality relationships with key stakeholders
  • As appropriate, representing Marks Hall Estate to stakeholders at functions and in the media
  • Ensuring that the Board evaluates its own performance and implements any changes
  • Chairing the Board and attending or chairing sub-committee and other meetings, as appropriate
  • Appraising the performance and development of the Executive Director

Person Specification

Qualities, skills, and knowledge

  • Strong and visible passion for, and commitment to, MHE’s history, values, and vision
  • Understanding and acceptance of the legal duties and responsibilities of being a Trustee including an appreciation of charity finance issues
  • Understanding of the difference between the Trustee role and that of the executive
  • Knowledge/experience of land use management
  • An awareness of the importance of fundraising to the future of MHE and the ability to lead and motivate a team who will successfully raise the necessary funds for development
  • Recent and relevant financial experience
  • Strong track record of strategic leadership - making a major contribution to the formulation and delivery of organisational strategy
  • Excellent interpersonal, leadership and influencing skills with the ability to motivate and engage staff and volunteers, bring people together and promote a collaborative team environment
  • Able to provide credible and effective leadership to the Board and Executive Director, including significant experience of chairing Boards
  • Based in East Anglia, East or North London, preferably familiar with Essex and Suffolk

Terms of Appointment


This appointment is not remunerated. All reasonable expenses will be reimbursed.

Time commitment

Four days per month to include full Board meetings held four times a year plus exceptional meetings as necessary; attendance or chairing sub-committee meetings of the Finance Committee, Built Estate, and Fundraising Committees prior to Board meetings; regular weekly liaison with the Executive Director.

Term of appointment

The Chair will serve a five-year term and will be eligible for re-appointment for a further five-year term. There is the option to extend for a further year in exceptional circumstances to be used for succession planning.


Marks Hall Estate is located in Essex off the A120 north of Coggeshall.
Marks hall Estate, Coggeshall CO6 1TG

How to apply

Applications should include a CV and short Statement of Suitability for this role. The statement should give evidence of the strength and depth of your ability to meet the essential criteria for this role with specific examples to demonstrate from your past experience how you meet the criteria. This should be no more than 1000 words.

Additional documents and information about Marks Hall Estate are available on the Marks Hall web site www.markshall.org.uk

Your application should be emailed to [email protected]

The closing date for applications is 21 September 2020. Interviews for those short-listed will take place in October. It is hoped that the successful candidate will be appointed by the end of October and take up post on 1 January 2021

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