A brief history of Coggeshall Grange Barn

Beams inside Grange Barn

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.
 

Below is a Timeline detailing the progress of the saving and restoration of the barn, from the beginning to the present day...

Timeline

1966

Grange Barn is designated as a Grade II listed building

Designation gives the Barn a higher priority status, and the benefit of recognised protections.

1972

Emergency repairs are undertaken to stop the barn from collapsing

Things had got to breaking point for the ancient structure, so emergency care was undertaken to ensure that no further harm befell the barn.

1975

The Coggeshall Grange Barn Fund Committee is formed

The Coggeshall Grange Barn Fund Committee was formed by members of the Coggeshall Society and the Coggeshall Residents' Association. Braintree District Council was minded to grant an application by the owner to remove the Barn. Public Enquiry denied permission for demolition. The owner's offer that the Barn be dismantled and re-erected elsewhere was rejected by the Grange Barn Fund Committee.