Before Marks Hall
Thomas Phillips Price was born in 1844, the son of the Reverend Canon William Price, vicar of Llanarth. At the age of twenty-three years he inherited the fortune of his unmarried uncle, Sir Thomas Phillips.
Following the Liberals’ defeat in the General Election of 1880, Thomas stood as their candidate for North Monmouthshire, defeating J. Rolls. He was MP for ten years (1885 – 1895). In 1882 Thomas was appointed High Sheriff for Monmouth and he was a Captain in the Monmouthshire Militia.
By this time having a need for a property closer to London he rented Skreens Park, near Chelmsford, a large mansion now demolished. He may well have been attracted to Essex as his sister Mary had married Sir Thomas Barratt-Lennard and lived at Belhus Park in South Essex. He was a County Councillor for Essex and Justice of the Peace at around this time. Thomas was first married to Frances Anne Rowlett in 1882 whilst living at Skreens Park. She subsequently died in 1897.
Soon afterwards attracted to Marks Hall by its fine mansion and deer park, he purchased a large portion of the Estate at auction in 1898.
His second wife was Florence Cecilia Konstamm, who had an Italian mother and a brother, Max Konstamm, a celebrated King’s Councilor. This Italian connection resulted in his purchase of the Villa Capponi, Arcetir, a fine 15th Century villa just outside Florence, which still stands today. The Prices’ spent a large part of the year in Italy due to Mrs Price’s poor health.
It is said he used to bring back bags of seeds, including sweet chestnuts, from Italy and had these planted out in the woods at Marks Hall.
Florence died as a result of rheumatoid arthritis in 1926 and in 1927 Thomas was married for the third time to Mary Elizabeth Swann, she had been his sister’s companion and was considerably younger than he was, having been born in 1876.
Thomas died only five years later on 28th June 1932 at the age of 88. Many years earlier in 1907 he had, in consultation with Sir George Murray of the Treasury and Sir David Prain, the Director of Kew Gardens, made provision in his will to leave the whole of his Essex estate to the nation in the interest of agriculture, arboriculture and forestry. His wife retained, in her own name, only Marigolds House and the contents of the mansion with a life interest in the rest of Marks Hall.
Post Thomas Philips Price
After Mr Phillips Price’s death Marks Hall seems to have deteriorated. It is said that Mrs Phillips Price never recovered from the shock of discovering that she had only a life interest in Marks Hall. The Second World War was to bring about changes which were unimaginable when Thomas Phillips Price made his will.
Earls Colne Airfield was constructed on the edge of the deer park to the north of Marks Hall. This led to the requisitioning of much of the deer park and mansion house for service accommodation.
Mrs Price continued to live at Marks Hall after the death of her husband, moving into Marigolds only when the mansion was requisitioned. She did not move back into the mansion after the war as Braintree District Council acquired the hall and airbase buildings to house displaced persons at the end of the wartime hostilities. By 1949 the mansion was stated to be in a perilous condition and permission was obtained to demolish it in 1950.
Mrs Price remained at Marigolds later moving to a nursing home in Bournemouth until her death in 1966.