Marks Hall and the manor of Marcie Fee, of which it is a part, lie in the parish of Margaret Roding, a village a few miles to the north-east of Chelmsford, Essex.
In the 14th century, the manor was in the possession of the de Bohun family, but in 1403 the manor was given to King Henry IV. At this point there is a certain obscurity. Almost at once Henry, the owner of the lands, gave them to University College, but he made it clear (see UC:E3/D1/4) that the exact conditions of the donation were to be arranged by Walter Skirlaw, then Bishop of Durham. It is therefore possible that, although Henry was the actual donor, Skirlaw may have lobbied the King to make such a gift. Although Skirlaw has been claimed as a former Fellow or commoner of University College, no proof of this exists (see A. B. Emden, Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A. D. 1500 iii. 1708–10): his interest in the place might have been aroused just as much by the links between University College and his diocese. Under the statutes which he drew up for the new benefaction, Skirlaw decreed that the income from Marks Hall should support three Fellows, and that preference be given to candidates from the dioceses of York and Durham. Income from the new property is first recorded in the account rolls for 1406/7.
The College appears to have preferred to leave the management of the manor to stewards, although, certainly in the fifteenth century, Fellows appear to have made yearly visits (UC:MA10/L2/1 records a misadventure which took place on one such visit in 1426). The account rolls of the College to 1596/7, which have been published as Volumes 39 and 40 (new series) of the Oxford Historical Society, include many important references to the College’s dealings with the manor.
The name of the property require some explanation. The actual manor has been called various names: in 1403 it was called the manor of Rothyng Margaret, but by the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was usually called the Manor of Marcie Fee, a name it retained until the twentieth century. Within this manor, the College possessed manorial rights over certain properties, which it leased out on copyhold tenure, but it also possessed the freehold of the farm of Marks Hall, and of a mill called Waples Mill. The College leased out the farm and the mill, sometimes together, sometimes separately
For much of the nineteenth century, University College employed a firm of London solicitors, Pennington and Lewis and Lewis, to manage some of their estates, including Marks Hall and Waples Mill. In 1979 a large consignment of their papers relating to University College were given to the College via the British Records Association. These papers have been catalogued as UC:P1, and include much material relating to Essex, which is cross-referenced here. It is also included in the index at the end of the catalogue. All the items in this collection were found in the archives during the stocktaking of 1993, except for UC:E3/D2/54, which was part of a collection of papers from the Estates Bursary transferred to the archives in December 2007 as Accession No. 753.
University College sold its property at Marks Hall in 1954 (see University College Record 1953/4, p. 10).
The accounts of University College contain much additional information on Marks Hall and its manor. Those up to 1596/7 have now been published (see below). The accounts for 1477/8–1484/5 will be of particular interest, because whereas in other years only the College’s chief tenant was named, during this time all the College’s tenants are listed in detail.
Account Rolls of University College, Oxford, ed. A. D. M. Cox and R. H. Darwall-Smith (2 vols OHS new ser. xxxix 1999 (1381/2–1470/1), xl 2001 (1471/2–1596/7)).
The collection is divided into the following sections:
UC:E3/L1 Legal Papers before the gift, 1295/6–1314/5
UC:E3/CR1 Court Rolls before the gift, 1315–66
UC:E3/D1 Deeds relating to the gift of Marks Hall, 1403/4 & 1427
UC:E3/CR2 Court Rolls, 1404–1935
UC:E3/CR3 Estreat Rolls after the gift, 1569–98
UC:E3/E1 Rentals, surveys and terriers, c.1403/4–1934
UC:E3/L2 Papers relating to the Activities of the Stewards of the Manor, 1847–1910
UC:E3/L3 Declaration on finances, 1436
UC:E3/L4 Agreement on a windmill, 1474
UC:E3/L5 Papers on a dispute with the Mordaunt family, 1521–30
UC:E3/L6 Papers concerning dispute on tithes from Stondon, c.1530–1612
UC:E3/L7 Papers concerning a dispute over ‘Nevell’s Land’,. 1542–4
UC:E3/L8 Papers on a quitrent paid to the Manor of Newland Hall, 16th–20th cent.
UC:E3/L9 Document concerning a charge of trespass, 1533
UC:E3/L10 Agreement on Lease, 1825
UC:E3/D2 Leases of Marks Hall and Waples Mill, 1414–1926
UC:E3/D3 Surrenders of and Admissions to Copyhold property, 1820–99
UC:E3/D4 Documents on the Sale of Marks Hall, 1953/4
UC:E3/C1 General Estate Correspondence, 1789–1931
UC:E3/C2 Correspondence on the history of the estate and its archives, 1819 & 1943
UC:E3/F1 Valuations, 1836–76
UC:E3/F2 Books of receipts for rents, etc., 1847–76
UC:E3/F3 Miscellaneous financial papers, 1783–1890
UC:E3/MS1 Notes on the history of Marks Hall and lists of archival holdings in the College, 18th–20th cents.
UC:E3/MS2 Notes on the administration of the manor, c.1883–1914
UC:E3/MS3 Paper on the rebuilding of Waples Mill, 1938
UC:E3/MS4 A Benefaction to the School at Margaret Roding, 1731
UC:E3/M1 Maps, 1845 & bef. 1856
UC:E3/M2 Maps taken from Ordnance Survey maps, 19th and 20th cents.
UC:E3/AD1 Drawings and Plans of buildings, 1925 & 1938
UC:E3/P1 - Photographs, c.1910–37
UC:E3/T1 Book on Tithes, 1880
UC:E3/X1 Printed Ephemera, 1970
UC:E3/X2 Sales Catalogues, 1897 & 1914
Because of the length of the complete catalogue, it has not been placed online. Instead, a pdf version of it may be consulted here.