There were originally three lakes, which are rumoured to have been dug by Roundhead troops camped at Marks Hall Estate whilst under the command of Sir Thomas Honywood, Commander of the Essex Militia, during the Seige of Colchester in 1648.

These have since been modified to the two ornamental lakes that you see today. Separated by a dam, the lakes are fed by Robins Brook, which runs through the Arboretum, down cascades, over weirs, and under an ornate Iron Bridge constructed by Filmer Honywood in the early 19th century.  

The lakes have a thriving population of fresh water mussels along with roach and carp. Next to the lower lake is an original nuttery containing Cob Nut trees. This area is now filled with spring flowers such as snowdrops, species of daffodils, cowslips and other wild flowers.

The upper lake forms the fourth boundary to the Walled Garden. Along the opposite bank is the Millennium Walk, designed and planted in 1999. The striking design was created by landscape designer and former Trustee Peter Thurman to give colour, shape and beguiling scent throughout the autumn and winter months. On crisp still winter days, the bright red stems of dogwood and the glistening trunks of Himalayan birch trees provide enchanting reflections in the upper lake. The flowers of the Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) give delicious scent along with the rich, sweetly perfumed and glossy leaved Sarcococca (Christmas Box). The flowers open in late winter and are very fragrant.

If you are planning a visit to Marks Hall Estate during spring and summer you can purchase fish and duck food from the admission point. The site of the hungry mouths of the large carp is not to be missed!