IAN Douglas Pollard, of Malmesbury, a former architect and developer, died on the 6 March 2019, at the age of 73.

He was, at the height of his career as a property developer at the head of Flaxyard plc, known as London’s ‘foremost architectural prankster’. The company was best known for two famous post-modern buildings: the Marco Polo Battersea and Homebase Kensington, both completed in the 1980s.

In Malmesbury he was perhaps best known to the media who along with his wife Barbara were known for a time as the naked gardeners and for the upkeep of the gardens of Abbey House in the town.

Marco Polo (1989) at the time was described as a ‘high tech glass cathedral’, ‘palatial’ and ‘architecturally magnificent’ by the press, although the architectural critics were not so keen. The Kensington Homebase scheme (1988), with its Egyptian friezes and glazed facade, has been cited as one of the top 5 best post - modern buildings by Historic England.

In his spare time, Ian set out to transform the Grade I Listed Hazelbury Manor in which he and his family lived, into a stunning and stylish modern home and state of the art offices. The transformation of the gardens was well noted - and were described at the time, ‘as gardens of magical opulence ... with a dream-like quality’.

Unfortunately the company was not unaffected by the recession of the early 1990s, and Ian decided to take an extended sabbatical; and to focus his creativity and energies on transforming the gardens at Abbey House, where the family moved in 1994.

Ian was born in Cambridge in June 1945; the only child born to single mother Peggy Pollard, his father Douglas died at the age of 23 serving as a reconnaissance pilot during World War ll. Born to earnest means, Ian’s sheer determination and vision guided him on his own rags to riches story. Having forged his mother’s signature on a permission slip, he entered and passed the 11 plus, to win a scholarship to the Perse Grammar School. He worked during the summers climbing onto college rooftops to help the Cambridge Estates Department; whilst also giving tours of the colleges to guests from his grandmother’s lodging house. His passion for landscape and architecture, and his appreciation for the symbiotic relationship between the two, was undoubtedly forged during those formative years spent amongst the beautiful medieval colleges and backs of Cambridge.

Ian then went on to qualify as a chartered surveyor, before setting up his own property development company - Flaxyard Ltd. The company went on to enjoy considerable success. The company - which combined both architecture and development disciplines - was responsible for a number of high profile ‘post modern ‘ buildings including Marco Polo in Battersea, and Homebase in Kensington. Post modern architecture suited Ian well - what Ian and Flaxyard set out to do, was to give commercial architecture a monumental civic dimension, to make architecture ‘fun’ and thought provoking; following years of dull modernist architecture with no sense of place or time, they wanted to make something out of the ordinary - buildings to make you ‘stop and stare’ , even if it wasn’t always for all the right reasons. Ian wanted to make people smile, to brighten up their day, and to make work environments exciting and stimulating places to be.

Ian’s own personal style was a hallmark of the man, and in 1993 he was voted one of Britain’s Best Dressed Men by Esquire magazine. He even modelled on the Paris catwalk for the designer Kansai. Ian liked to challenge convention and created a unique work environment, which for its time was quite unique, combining work and home life, in a way that wouldn’t become the norm until a few decades later. A former colleague recalls memories of the boss on his tractor with crowbar in hand heaving rocks around to form a rockery, ‘the guy who regularly attended meetings in wellingtons whilst playing with a pruning knife .....’

Sadly, however, Flaxyard was impacted, like so many others, by the recession of the late 1980’s and the company was forced to downsize and relocate. It was in 1994 that Ian and his partner at that time, Barbara Haworth, moved to Abbey House, a Tudor-style estate built on 12th century foundations, which sits under the gaze of the medieval arch of the Malmesbury’s Abbey in Wiltshire.

There, Ian and fellow gardener Martin Roberts, worked ceaselessly to created a series of formal garden spaces, and a more naturalistic riverside garden. The style of the garden reflects both historical authenticity - with yew hedges picking out the line of a former chapel; and Ian’s modern artistic style. Within 5 years, Ian and Martin transformed the grounds into an exquisite garden setting, with the Abbey as its backdrop, which they opened to the public in 1997. Abbey House Gardens put has since seen almost three quarters of a million visitors, facilitated hundreds of weddings & been featured on television programme’s around the world, firmly putting Malmesbury on the map with thousands visiting the attraction and continued media attention. tourist Map.

Ian was an avid plant collector, an accomplished musician - teaching himself to play the flute at 60 - and a prolific reader, accumulating his own library of over 2000 books at Abbey House. He loved animals, and at one time had a veritable menagerie of birds, fish, dogs, cats and horses, and bred cattle and sheep for a few years. When asked what one thing he could not live without, his response was, ‘Being outside in the fresh air’.

Ian suffered a devastating stroke in March 2015, which left him unable to walk. His eldest son Rufus, took on the responsibility of caring for him and managing the gardens, which will continue to be open for the future, in honour of the legacy that Ian has left in creating the peaceful and spiritual gardens of Abbey House.

There is a private memorial service taking place in the garden in a few weeks.

Ian was married twice, first to Diana Deer with whom he had two children Juliette and Samantha, and then a second marriage to Barbara Haworth with whom he had three children Rufus, Arushka and Kian. Ian is also survived by his grandchildren, Ashley, Kiaran and Jason.

Ian was a tremendous and larger than life character; always up beat, always entertaining, and truly unique in his outlook and attitude to life. Both pragmatic and creative, and never one to shy away from controversy, he was truly a true ‘Renaissance’ man. He is, and will be sadly missed.