Paycocke's House is a heavily timbered merchants house built some time around the beginning of the 16th Century. The building now belongs to the National Trust and is open to the public. However, this is one of the Trusts tenanted properties, meaning that a private Trust tenant family live there, and as such the opening times are limited, as are the rooms you are able to visit. Being a private home also means that photography inside the house is prohibited, an excellent reason for such a rule if ever there is one.
The tenant is, I must say, very welcoming and informative, and as you might expect, extremely aware of both the responsibility and privelidge of living in such a remarkable and historic property. (In a way, I think all those who live in ancient buildings are in a sense tenants, caring for the building for the temporary few years that it is in their ownership). He will point out to you the finer details in the carving, the hidden carvers marks, and tell you the history of the wealthy merchant, Thomas Paycocke, who was proud of his wealth and wanted to make it visible by having such rich carvings on display.
You get to see several rooms, both upstairs and down, and are able to wander at your leisure around the country garden at the rear, where several cats will be pleased to make your acquaintance!
Opening times when I visited in 2005 were as follows:
27th March - 9th October
2pm - 5.30pm
It may be wise to check if these have changed. The entry fee is a very reasonable three pounds.
The Grange Barn is a 13th Century barn that was once part of a Cistercian abbey which no longer exists (apart from a few fragments) and is a truly impressive building. It is now in the care of the National Trust, although the fact that it is standing at all is something of a miracle, given the state that it was once in. The barn was in regular use right up until the 1960's. However, once the farmer stopped using it, it fell into such a state of ruin that there was talk of pulling it down. It would likely have been covered by a housing estate! I recall the restoration taking place during the 1980's, and it is now in fine condition, although many timbers had to be replaced.
Opening times are limited, and coincide with Paycocke's House:
April - October
Tues/Thurs/Sun/Holiday Monday afternoons
You can buy a joint entrance ticket for both Paycocke's and the Grange Barn for something like four pounds.
I am someone who enjoys looking around old churches, but despite living and working near this one for many years, my last visit to England was my first visit to the church of St Peter ad Vincula.
There has probably been a church on this site since Saxon times and it is mentioned in the Domesday Book, but the present building dates back to the early 1400's. If churches are your 'thing' then there are plenty of nice features about St Peters to interest you - such as the 12th Century font that was thrown out by another local church and used as a horse trough before being restored and placed here in Victorian times. The tower was badly damaged by a World War II bomb and there are photographs of this inside the church. Outside in the churchyard are a number of types of tombstone, including carved bale tombs, often found in towns where wool and cloth were once important industries, as they were in Coggeshall.
Incidentally, if you were wondering about the name of the church, it comes from the Latin for St Peter in Chains.
I deliberated over whether or not a tip for a country pub came under Nightlife or Restaurants. Neither of those seemed to fit, so you find the Woolpack Inn here, under things to do. I figured visiting this cosy old English pub was just that. The Woolpack is a 15th Century coaching inn, and is one of those places filled with heavy old timbers, cosy fireplaces and there is normally a local at the bar, pint in hand, willing to chat to a visitor.
I last came here in summer, so no roaring fireplaces for me. Instead I sat out in the garden with a good friend, a chilled wine, and an averagely good cheese ploughmans. Sitting in an English country pub garden is definitely to be recommended, so if you find yourself in Coggeshall, you really ought to check out the Woolpack.
Aside from the shops and architecture that draws most people to Coggeshall, there are many footpaths that have lovely scenic trails. One of our favorite things to do on the weekend is to put on the "Wellies" (rubber boots to prevent wet/muddy feet) and go for a nice long walk on one of the various footpaths in the Coggeshall Countryside. It is geat to walk year-round and really notice the changing seasons/scenery on the walks.
The springtime is the best time for one of these walks. All along the paths are gorgeous blankets of Bluebelles, fields of mustard flowers (rape), and, of course the classic sign of spring - Daffodils. We see all kinds of wildlife on these walks - deer, pheasants, quail, etc. We love listening to all the different bird calls as well. I'm not so good at identifying the different calls yet - but its fun to try!
Here is a link to some info about Coggeshall walks including directions and a map for the different paths you can take around this lovely countryside village.
The church was built in the 15th century, during the prosperous times of the wool trade in East Anglia. It is beautifully proportioned, with large windows making the interior light and airy – take a look at the east window in the second photograph. The roof is also splendid, with great oak beams spanning across the nave.
When I last visited, the church was being decorated with flowers for a wedding that afternoon – hence the ribbons on the pews and the flowers in the chancel.
Maybe not something most tourists would think to do on a vacation, but... maybe you are in need of a computer with internet access to update your Virtual Tourist pages? :-) Our Library in Coggeshall is, of course... "quaint" just like the rest of Coggeshall! Its just one big room but it manages to pack quite a lot into that big room! There are two computers in the Library which are available free of charge.
Tuesday & Friday 2.00 pm - 7.00pm
Thursday & Saturday 9.00am - 1.00pm
- Every Sunday 2:15pm - 4:45pm (Beginning April to end October)
- Bank Holiday Mondays 2:15pm - 4:45pm
Coggeshall Museum opened in 1990 in an annex to St. Peter's Hall (now the Village Hall) in Stoneham Street. The hall itself was formerly one of Coggeshall's breweries but since the 1920s has been a focus for many of Coggeshall's community activities. During the Second World War the hall provided a place to relax for the many servicemen of all nationalities who were stationed at the airfields that surrounded this small Essex town. The museum was established to preserve Coggeshall's historic past and to carry on recording today's events for generations to come. It was set up in 1990 by enthusiastic band of volunteers.
The memorabilia on show has been loaned or donated by local people and the exhibits change from year to year, different themes taking precedence, so there is always something new to see. The museum is run entirely by volunteers and there is no admission charge, but donations are always very welcome to help offset running costs and improve the standard of the exhibitions.
One of the two National Trust sites in Coggeshall is the Paycocke's House. This fine half-timbered house is evidence of the wealth generated by the East Anglian wool trade in the 15th and 16th centuries. It contains unusually rich panelling and woodcarving. Coggeshall was also famous for its lace, examples of which are displayed inside the house. There is a very attractive cottage garden.
13th-century monastic barn
* Associated with a local Cistercian abbey
* Beautiful 'cathedral like' interior
* Interesting collection of farm carts