Serles House in Wimborne for sale

By Marilyn Barbier[email protected]

Wimborne’s Priest’s House Museum, trading as the Museum of East Dorset, is to sell Serles House, located on Victoria Road, Wimborne.

Described by Alan Titchmarsh as “one of Britain’s top ten gardens”, it was the home of Ian Willis who died suddenly on October 5, 2020 aged 68. It was described in Alan’s program as “An eccentric’s masterpiece”. .

Ian bequeathed the residue of his estate, including Serles House, to the Priest’s House Museum Collections Trust. The Collections Trust is a charity operating separately from the main museum board. Part of its mission is to supplement or rationalize the existing collection and to ensure that the collection is managed appropriately.

In a statement, the Priest’s House Museum Collections Trust said it had commissioned a feasibility study to examine options for the future use of Serles House. The study has now been completed and concluded that it would not be viable for it to be part of the museum offer. He added that the decision had therefore been taken to dispose of the asset. Proceeds from the sale will be used to ensure that the Museum’s collection will benefit over the long term.

Collections Trust chair Sue Revill said: “It was important for us to have the study to determine the most appropriate course of action and to ensure that Ian’s legacy contributes positively to the future. of the museum and its collections.

Ian bought Serles House in 1981 and set about transforming the garden which contained a huge amount of artefacts including an old copper cladding from a washing boiler, a bronze bog frog, cannons salvaged from the Solent , old chimney pots and a terracotta rabbit.

The items were collected from recycling and recovery centres, flea markets and antique shops.

In 2001 he opened the house to raise money for Wimborne in Bloom, and while I was working at another community magazine at the time, I was asked to advertise it.

I was so captivated by his eccentricity and creativity that I wrote a long article with photos.

The story was picked up by national newspapers and TV stations and in 2003 Ian opened his garden to raise money for the National Gardens Scheme Charitable Trust. In 2009, he also decided to introduce the public to his Victorian house.

The collections trustees appointed a filmmaker to document the story of Ian and his home. This will involve interviews with people who had a connection to Ian and the house and will create a lasting record of this interesting and unusual feature of the town.

Excerpts from the feasibility study will be available on the Museum’s website.

There is an exhibition celebrating the life of Ian Willis at the Museum of East Dorset.

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Raymond I. Langston