Tributes have been paid to a true Malmesbury legend who helped put the town on the map.

Ian Douglas Pollard, former architect and developer, has died at the age of 73.

He was best known for his work creating the stunning Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury as the 'naked gardener', due to his penchant for working in the nude.

In a tribute released by his family, they said: “Ian was a tremendous and larger than life character; always upbeat, 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 ‘renaissance’ man.

“He is, and will, be sadly missed.”

In 1994, 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 Malmesbury’s Abbey in Wiltshire.

There, Ian and fellow gardener Martin Roberts worked ceaselessly to create 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 five years, Ian and Martin transformed the grounds into an exquisite garden setting, with the Abbey as its backdrop, and they opened to the public in 1997.

Abbey House Gardens has since seen almost three quarters of a million visitors, facilitated hundreds of weddings and been featured on television programme’s around the world, firmly putting Malmesbury on the 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 2,000 books at Abbey House.

He loved animals, and at one time had a variety 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 gardens of Abbey House.

Ian died on March 6 and the family released their tribute this week.

Ian is survived by his five children – daughter’s Juliette, Samantha and Arushka, and son’s Rufus and Kian – and grandchildren, Ashley, Kiaran, Jason.