A Trip to Coggeshall and Cressing
by Arthur Cox
To help celebrate my 87th birthday, my daughter Tansy and her partner Ian took me out for the day on 10th September 2016. They arrived at my home at 11.0am and I was given some gifts (drinks and eats) and we set off to Coggeshall, Essex. We drove via Tiptree, Inworth, Feering and Kelvedon to Coggeshall and there parked at the National Trust place called the Great Barn. (In some notes it is called The Grange Barn). From there we walked through the village and over the river bridge to reach the Tudor period house called Paycocke’s, another NT place.
Booking in we were told that because it was Heritage Open Days there was no charge. We decided to explore the rear garden first before looking at the interior of the house. A very pleasant garden with lots of trees around it. Although it was September there were still a lot of plants in flower and many had labels which was useful. I particularly admired a very tall and straight ash with unusual leaves – and found it was Fraxinus angustifolia.
Tansy had her camera and took various photos – of the plants and us as well.
Arthur admiring the herbacious border
Garden View from inside the house
The back of the house with wisteria and beds of lavender.
Tansy and Arthur
Next came a light lunch for which we sat at a table outside in a little courtyard.
After that we went into see the interior of the house which was built in 1509. The home and business place of Thomas Paycocke, a cloth merchant. A great deal of oak panelling and masses of carving to be seen. Good displays of papers – letters and diagrams, etc. And of goods made from wool and the special woollen cloth called Coggeshall White. There are several stairways some quite steep and narrow.
One of the several stairs
An oak cupboard
Various objects on a bench
Ian in the The Dining Room
A Tiled Fireplace
Ian and Arthur in the Entrance Archway
Carving over the archway
Then a return walk back through the village to the Great Barn. This dates from c1230 and was used to house the tithes collected by the Abbots of nearby Coggeshall Abbey. There is no rainwater gutter for the roof and the rain falls from the eaves into an eavesdrop channel. Thus the verb to eavesdrop – to stand in the eavesdrop space to listen outside by a window. In the 1980s the barn was a complete wreck and was restored by 1985.
The Great Barn
The Eavesdrop Channel
I thought that the barn was smaller than the splendid barns at nearby Cressing Temple and as it was still early afternoon we decided to go there. We headed out along the main road towards Braintree and seeing a little lane with sign for Cressing we diverted and used that. A very narrow and winding lane which eventually led us the Cressing village and then with a little uncertainty about the way to the main road and the Cressing temple place. There seemed to be few people around but we saw two double-decker buses with white ribbons on them and we didn’t have to guess there was a wedding in progress.
The Wedding Buses
We parked and Ian went to ask about access. Yes, a wedding was on today so we couldn’t enter the main barn but could explore other places and the garden.
The weather was not so fine now and we took umbrellas. Through the Visitor Centre building and to a barn which was divided into various workshops, wheelwright, forge, etc. Some interesting old tools can be seen here.
In the Wheelwright’s workshop
Then across a lawn to the walled garden – this in Tudor period style. I remember seeing this years ago when the place was not more than a wall around a rough garden area. Now it is set out with various little garden areas, hedges, a fountain, a rill feature and a wooden viewing walk and platform. And a vegetable area.
Tansy took more photos and then we sheltered from the drizzle.
Box Hedges and Gravel Paths
The Vegetable Area
On the way back to the car park we saw two Scottish pipers playing as the wedding guests left the barn.
So after a good day out we returned home to Maldon and then went to Morrison’s for a good meal to finish the good day.
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