A brief history of Coggeshall Grange Barn

Grange Barn, Essex dates from the 13th century.

Coggeshall Grange Barn is one of the oldest timber-framed buildings in Europe. It was built 800 years ago to serve the farms of nearby Coggeshall Abbey and has since been used by generations of farmers. In the 1980s the barn was close to collapse, but the efforts of the local community and hard work of a restoration team ensured that it was preserved as a true representation of how it was, for all of us to enjoy today.

Coggeshall Abbey was founded in 1140 on the banks of the River Blackwater. The Cistercian Monks farmed a wide area of land known as a ‘monastic grange’.  A large barn would have been needed to store and process their crops.
 
The barn was probably built in the mid-1200s. The barn’s size and the skill involved in its construction give us an impression of the power and influence of the medieval Abbey at that time. The monks would have been diverting the river, building a new bridge and a new chapel at the same time.
 
The Abbey was dissolved in the 1538 by Henry VIII, but it has left us a rich legacy of buildings and documents.
 
The structure of the barn has been adapted several times since it was built. Major changes were made in the 1300s to raise the walls, strengthen the roof and include larger doors and porches. Since then, other changes have been made, including the replacement of the wattle and daub walls with brick.
 
Although no longer a working agricultural building, Grange Barn continues to be used for a range of events – including food, craft and antique fairs and theatre productions.
 
Six key steps happened on the way to saving the barn:-
 
1966 - the barn became a listed building
1972 - emergency repairs were undertaken to stop the barn from collapsing
1974 - the Coggeshall Society and Residents’’ Association launched the Coggeshall Grange Barn Fund
1976 - the owner of Grange Farm was refused permission to demolish it
1981 - a compulsory purchase order was served by Braintree District Couancil
1983 - work began to restore the barn – the result is what you see today