Landowner leaves £400,000 to trust

A LANDOWNER and countryman has left a major part of his estate to a conservation group.Philip Elsey, who owned Church Farm at Thorington, near Halesworth, died last year, leaving an estate valued at more than £1 million.

By David Green

A LANDOWNER and countryman has left a major part of his estate to a conservation group.

Philip Elsey, who owned Church Farm at Thorington, near Halesworth, died last year, leaving an estate valued at more than £1 million.

Now the Suffolk Wildlife Trust has taken possession of the farm bungalow, old timber-framed barns and 55 acres of land - bequeathed in Mr Elsey's will.


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The bequest, the total value of which extends to more than £400,000, includes a wildlife-rich area of marsh and 24 acres of arable land which are to be converted to organic production.

The bungalow and barns, together valued at £300,000, are likely to be sold next year to raise money towards the cost of managing the marsh for wildlife and for the trust's general funds.

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Mr Elsey, a conservationist who also loved shooting, was a gun dog trainer and a well-respected judge at gun dog trials.

His links with the wildlife trust extended over several years, since he asked for advice in managing his marshes for wildlife.

The marshes, which already support a wide range of wetland plants, including orchids, were subsequently entered into the Environmentally Sensitive Area scheme and were designated a County Wildlife Site .

Steve Aylward, manager of the wildlife trust's nature reserves, said the arable land would be converted to organic production and managed on the trust's behalf by a neighbouring farmer.

There were plans to allow public access to what would in future be known as Thorington Marsh but this was unlikely to happen until next year.

Mr Elsey's bequest will be acknowledged on an information board erected on the site.

Mr Aylward said: “He was a man who had a great connection with the countryside and really enjoyed the wildlife on his farm.

“He had given us an indication that he would leave us some land - probably the marsh - but we did not expect to get the entire farm including the buildings.

“It is a wonderful bequest.”

Mr Aylward said Mr Elsey had lived in Great Yarmouth and had used the farm at Thorington, which he acquired in the 1950s, as a weekend retreat.

“He was a heavy smoker and we understand he died of lung cancer,” he added.

The rest of the estate has been left in trust for his widow.

The executor of the will was Mr Elsey's nephew, John Grout, who lives at Harleston on the Suffolk-Norfolk border.

He could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

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