The team at Marks Hall were delighted to welcome Witham MP Priti Patel to Marks Hall Estate to view archives from World War Two and tour the Gardens and Arboretum on Thursday 30th August.

Marks Hall was used as a US airbase during World War Two. More than 70 airfields across East Anglia were allocated to the US Air Force. These were controlled by a number of area ‘wing HQs’ located in large private houses requisitioned for the purpose. Marks Hall originally oversaw three airfields including Earls Colne.

Life at Marks Hall was incredibly busy during the war. The mansion and huts around it became the nerve centre of a force that by D-Day, on June 6th 1944, numbered more than 750 bombers located at the eleven Essex bases then under Marks Hall’s control. On the eve of the invasion activity was intense as orders went out to hit beaches and coastal batteries in Normandy from the early hours. Within weeks, as the Allies moved further into France, squadrons started to relocate to newly liberated airfields on the continent. Marks Hall’s personnel moved to Chartres, in France, in September.

Because of its American connections, Marks Hall is one of the Essex locations being considered for a new US tourism project spearheaded by Discover England Fund to encourage tourism and increase the number of American visitors.

After her visit, Priti said, “It was a pleasure to join the team at Marks Hall today to learn more about the Estate’s history and American connections. Marks Hall had a significant wartime role and the archives were fascinating. I will continue to support the team at Marks Hall to raise awareness and boost tourism in the area."

“Marks Hall is a spectacular attraction in Coggeshall and the gardens and arboretum are stunning. I would definitely recommend a visit!”

Chair of Trustees at Marks Hall Estate, Meriel Barclay noted, “The team at Marks Hall were delighted to welcome Priti Patel back to explore the arboretum and talk through the heritage of the Estate. By working collaboratively we hope to drive awareness of this inspiring landscape. We are aiming to develop an education programme at Marks Hall, which improves the way we engage with our visitors, stakeholders and the local community. Priti’s support and developing links and partnerships with like-minded organisations will help us to increase regional and national awareness of this special place.”