Who was Thomas Phillips Price?

Mr and Mrs Price by the Honywood Oak

The Markshall Estate Charitable Trust celebrated it’s 50th anniversary on 15 November 2021. Throughout those 50 years, we’ve worked to connect people with nature and, more recently, champion sustainability and help people to take climate action. So much of the work that we’ve done over these 50 years, as well as the work we continue to do, is due to the vision of Thomas Phillips Price, the last private owner of Markshall Estate. But who was he, how did his life lead to the creation of Markshall Estate, and where does he fit in our story?

Thomas Phillips Price studied at University College, Oxford

Early life and inheriting a fortune

Thomas Phillips Price was born in 1844, the only son of Mary Price and Canon Price, the late Vicar of Llanarth Parish in Monmouthshire. Growing up, he attended school in Winchester College before going on to study at University College, Oxford.

In his early twenties, Phillips Price inherited a fortune from his unmarried uncle, Sir Thomas Phillips, who had been a champion for a programme of primary education for all. The young Thomas Phillips Price was also an active mine owner in Wales, with mines at Darran Llanhilleth and Ebbw Fach.

Phillips Price would serve as MP for North Monmouthshire for 10 years

Becoming an MP

Thomas Phillips Price was in touch with changing attitudes across the nation on environmental health and increasing concerns about the impact of industry on the natural world. As such, when he entered politics he did so as a member for the Liberal Party. He was elected as MP for the constituency of North Monmouthshire in 1885, a seat which he held until 1895.

Phillips Price purchased the Estate from the Honywood family in 1897

The Markshall Estate years

Life as an MP had brought Thomas Phillips Price closer to London and in 1897 he purchased Markshall Estate from the Honywood family. They had owned the estate since 1605, but a disputed succession in the late 19th century had plunged the family into financial peril.

Throughout his time as the owner of the Markshall Estate, Thomas Phillips Price displayed a passion for conservation that was, in many ways, ahead of his time. He was in frequent correspondence with the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. At the time, there was increasing worry about the effect of London pollution on the Kew collections, and Markshall was offered as a suitable satellite location. In the end, Wakehurst was the chosen location.

Markshall Estate was left to the nation for “the advancement of agriculture, arboriculture and forestry”


Thomas Philips-Price died on the 28th of June 1932. Despite marrying several times, he left no heir. As such, in his will of 1927, he left the Markshall Estate in trust to the nation upon the death of his last wife, Mary Phillips Price. In the will, he expressed the desire that the Trust and land of the estate was to be used, “for the advancement of agriculture, arboriculture and forestry”.

Mary Phillips Price outlived her husband by 34 years and died in 1966. Soon after, Phillips Price’s will came into effect and the Trust was established in 1971. Since that time, generations of trustees, volunteers and staff have worked to bring about this vision. We are proud to have served this landscape for 50 years, and look forward to ensuring that Markshall develops into the next 50.

Discover more of our history

Want to learn more about our history and how Thomas Phillips Price fits into our story? Having first been mentioned in the Domesday book in 1086, there’s plenty to uncover about Markshall Estate.

Learn more

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