Thursday, 12 February 2015
We are in Essex on a visit to our friends Dave and Chris and they have taken us to see Coggeshall, near to where they live. We park in the centre and head off along West Street.
West Street has a nice mixture of Georgian houses with older half-timbered ones. After a short while we come to Paycockes House, a simply fabulous half-timbered house built for merchant Thomas Paycocke in about 1500. Pevsner describes it as "one of the most attractive half-timbered houses in England". It is owned by the National Trust, but was not open today.
The detailed wood carving is especially impressive.
We retraced our steps to Market Hill and walked up Stoneham St to be immediately confronted by wonderful wooden Clock Tower. It dates from 1887, i.e. Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.
Further along the street on the right is this whitewashed half-timbered house' It struck us as rather unusual - typically the wooden frame is brown or black. On the right hand side, near the ground, can be seen a plaster sheep. This is a reminder that wool was the original source of the town's prosperity.
We turned right into Queen street, passing another plaster sheep and then this vivid depiction of a gun-dog.
At the end, just before the church and much to my delight was a set of almshouses. The blue plaque revealed that they were founded with money given by Josiah Greenwood in 1795. They were built (or rebuilt) in 1864 and renovated in 1981.
The fine church of St Peter-ad-Vincula (St Peter in Chains - apparently there are other churches with this dedication) lies just beyond the almshouses. It was built to a single plan in the 15th century and is 125 feet long. The tower was rebuilt after being damaged in the second world war, and we all felt was too low for the rest of the building. It was still in ruins, along with the nave, when Pevsner visited in 1953.
When we visited a wake was in progress, but we were still welcomed to have a look at the inside - and indeed offered cake - which was very generous.
We walked down Church Green, where I failed to spot four almshouse bungalows of 1900. This led into Church St, where we admired the unconventional, but very successful, colour scheme of this Georgian house. We also wondered about the little glass room which can just be seen at the top. Is there a name for such a room?
Conditions: Cold and pretty grey.
Distance: a couple of miles.
Rating: four stars. A little gem.
On the way home, we stopped to admire Coggeshall's other National Trust property: Grange Barn. This vast monastic barn dates from the 13th century and is "one of Europe's oldest timber-framed buildings" according to the National Trust.