Friends of Woodbridge Museum Visit to Coggeshall (4/07/2018)
Thirty Friends of Woodbridge Museum enjoyed a sunny day out in Coggeshall last Wednesday, visiting Grange Barn, a tithe barn built by the Cistercians whose abbey once stood nearby, and Paycockes, the home of wealthy Tudor cloth merchant, Thomas Paycocke.
Arriving just after 11am, the group was divided into two and each visited one site in the morning and the other in the afternoon, allowing plenty of time for a leisurely lunch and a stroll around the pretty village. Knowledgeable National Trust guides gave a useful introduction to each of the properties which were situated half a mile apart.
The impressive 13th century Grange Barn is one of Europe's oldest timber-framed buildings. Sitting in the cool interior, out of the glaring sun, we heard the story of how it was rescued from its derelict state by the local community in the 1980s and after painstaking restoration was gifted to the National Trust. Remarkably the barn had remained in continual agricultural use up until the 1960s and a variety of historic farming implements were displayed within its walls.
Paycockes was a testimony to the great wealth generated by the cloth trade in East Anglia in the 16th century. This half timbered house with its beautifully carved wooden beams and linen fold wall panelling was a delight to explore, with one main staircase and two smaller ones connecting the two wings of the house. The oldest part of the house dated to 1410 and served as an open hall which was adapted by Thomas Paycocke to form the core of his home. Our guide also pointed out the carving of the ermine tail, the Paycocke’s emblem which would have been stamped on cloth bales as a brand mark, signifying the purity of its cloth.
An unexpected pleasure at Paycockes was its beautiful cottage garden which stretched out behind the house. This formed part of the Edwardian restoration which took over twenty years, a testimony to the dedication of Noel Buxton and his cousin Conrad Noel who lived in the house and oversaw the works.
We headed back to Woodbridge, highly satisfied with our day, marvelling at the impulse which restored these two buildings of historic significance which could so easily have been lost to posterity. Many thanks to Anne and Bob for arranging such a splendid day out.