Review: Visiting Markshall Estate with Children

Markshall Estate in Coggeshall between Colchester and Braintree, Essex, is full of beautiful flowers and landscaping, but what is there for children? On a dry day the Estate is a great place to visit and there is plenty to get children exploring. 

Markshall Estate walled garden and peacock
Markshall Estate Review

Is Markshall Estate Is Good To Visit With Children?

Markshall Estate has 200 acres of Arboretum and Gardens to explore as well as 2000 acres of ancient woodland. If you need more than pretty scenery to motivate your children though don’t worry because Markshall delivers. 

Children walking across a bridge at Markshall Estate with a sheet for the Halloween pumpkin trail
There is always a trail for children to give them something to look for around the gardens

Children's Trails

The reason we first visited was for Markshall's Halloween trail in October, but they have different trails throughout the year. There is currently a Fairy Door trail which will be followed from 10th Feb to 19th March with a Mini Beast Trail and then an Easter trail (probably from 24th March). 

For the Halloween trail we had a trail sheet with 30 pumpkin designs to look for. You have to spots small painted wooden 2D carvings or signs that you can tick off the sheet. Unlike other trails I liked that these pumpkins were difficult to spot and you don’t know where they are going to be. We walked round what felt like all of the arboretum looking for them all, and the determination to find them all kept my children walking much further than normal.  

After you have completed the trail (or found out as many as you can) you can claim a prize at the ticket office. At Halloween this was a munchkin pumpkin, for the Fairy Door Trail it was a wooden animal keyring. I like that they prizes are interesting and more than a sticker or bag of sweets.

A circle of tree stumps in woodland at markshall estate
In the woodland there are areas set up to encourage natural play

Play Areas

They have opened an adventure play area for Spring 2023 with swings, slides and things to climb on. You can find this near the entrance.  In the arboretum there are also a few woodland areas that are designed to be natural play areas. They have lots of tree stumps and pieces of wood to climb on and den building is encouraged too in both the 'Wild Wood' and 'Chestnut Chase'. 

In the Walled Garden there are walls which are fun to play on (my children turned them into train tracks), landscaped ground and a tree tunnel to run in (this had Halloween decorations in when we went in October).

a child running on the wall at the walled garden at Markshall Estate
Playing in the walled garden 

Other Things of Interest

While walking around children might also be interested in the ancient and huge oak tree, ducks in the lake, the peacocks and a variety of interesting trees and plants like the eucalyptus with it’s distinctive bark that they might not have seen before (there were large pieces on the floor you could look at).

A koala sculpture on a eucalyptus tree at Markshall Estate
A koala sculpture on a eucalyptus tree at Markshall Estate

About Markshall Estate

Markshall was once part of a much bigger manor and is listed as “Mercheshala” in the Domesday book in 1086. In the 1940s the Air Ministry requisitioned the mansion house and some of the estate to construct Earls Cole Airfield and a base for the RAF and USAF. You can still see some of the concrete roads on the estate. The house fell in to disrepair and was demolished in 1949.

Markshall Estate is a popular wedding venue with a choice of reception venues from the tipi in the woodland to the 18th century Coach House or the beautiful Parterre Garden. These venues can also be hired for private parties and gatherings. The beautiful grounds have a number of stunning locations to use as a background for the wedding photographs from an iron bridge to the old oak trees.   

a stream and trees at Markshall Estate
Markshall Estate is open all year round

What to Know Before Visiting Markshall Estate

When is Markshall Estate Open?

The gardens are open all year round Friday to Sunday between 10am and 4pm, but from April onwards they open additional days including everyday in school holidays. They also until 5pm from April to end of October (last entry 3.30pm) 

The Walled Garden is closed in Winter, but that is just a small section of the arboretum so don't be put off. 

Is it Suitable for Pushchairs?

The main paths are decent so you will be fine with a pushchair or wheelchair on those, however if you are trying to complete the trail then some of the finds are in the woodland areas which you will find hard going with a pushchair, especially when the ground is muddy. 

Food and Drink

The Orchard Kitchen cafe just inside the entrance is really nice and has a delicious selection of food, drink and cake (including vegan options). There is also a picnic area with shade in Pound Field or you can bring a blanket and have your picnic in the gardens. 

The menu for the Orchard Kitchen cafe at Markshall Estate
The Orchard Kitchen menu has cakes, snacks and hot food

Entry cost

Tickets cost £8 for adults and £4.30 for children, but the family tickets are great value and will save you money if visiting with 2 to 4 children. Parking is free.

Can you bring dogs?

Dogs are welcome in both the Arboretum and on the Woodland Walks, but not the Walled Garden. They should be kept on a short lead at all times and clean up after them (there are grey lidded dog waste bins around the Estate).

Toilet Facilities

Toilets and an accessible toilet with baby changing facility are next to the Orchard Kitchen near the entrance, this is some distance from the far end of the gardens so make sure you all go when your arrive.

Getting To Markshall Estate 

The nearest train station (Marks Tey) is 5.8 miles away, but most visitors will drive to Markshall Estate. The address is: Coggeshall, Essex CO6 1TG. From turning into the signed entrance on Colne Road (B1024) it is just over a mile to the car park.

chappel viaduct
Nearby Chappel viaduct

What is there to do nearby Markshall Estate?

While in Summer you might spend the whole day at Markshall Estate, you could also combine it with some of the other places to visit nearby:

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