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University in quest for the lost mansion
9:00am Tuesday 7th August 2012 in News
A LOST mansion’s heritage is being uncovered as part of a history project.
Prof James Raven, of Essex University’s history department, has been awarded £75,000 from the Economic and Social Research Council, to look into the history of Marks Hall, near Coggeshall.
By the end of next July, it is hoped there will be a virtual recreation of the site, through conservation and planting, along with displays, exhibits, open archaeological digs and a guide book.
Marks Hall, demolished in 1950, is among hundreds of mansions pulled down as owners were unable to maintain or repair them.
The site has been turned into Marks Hall Garden and Arboretum, and is now a popular tourist destination.
Dr Jane Pearson, a history teacher at the university who is also taking part in the project, said she hoped it would change people’s perceptions of why the mansion was demolished.
She said: “The fascinating question is how we came to lose it.”
Teams of archaeologists have already uncovered the house’s foundations, as well as those of earlier buildings, including Elizabethan houses, and are hoping to find cellars.
History student Edward Taylor will also look into how visitor numbers can be increased, and former student Ian Yearsley is developing a web page for the project.
Dr Pearson said: “It’s a big project – we are very excited about it.
“The university is very excited too and will run a few courses there.”
Dr Pearson is compiling an oral history of Marks Hall and wants to hear from anyone with memories of the estate.
Contact her on 01206 210855.
- Community Dig Days on August 21 to 25 offer an opportunity to get involved with excavations of the mansion site. Contact 01376 563796 to book a place.