Grange Barn and Paycockes circular walk, Coggeshall, Essex
With its astonishing cathedral-like interior, Grange Barn is one of Europe's oldest timber-framed buildings. This pleasant circular country walk takes you from the Barn, via the Essex Way and along the River Blackwater footpath to Paycocke's House.
Grange Barn car park, grid ref: TL848223
Exit Grange Barn car park and turn right on to Essex Way going straight through Grange Farm and keeping the hedgerow initially on your left hand side. Once past a large oak tree, the hedgerow comes over to the right. Keep going until the end of this hedgerow. Look out for rabbits and pheasants in the fields either side.
Grange Barn was once part of the Coggeshall Cistercian monastery, dating from the 13th-century. It was on the brink of demolition, when in the 1980s, the local Coggeshall community managed to save this magnificent building for future generations. Previous owners include King Henry VIII. It has an interesting collection of old farm machinery, There is also a special display of The Saunders Tools Collection, woodcarving tools used by local master carver Bryan Saunders until his death in 1975.
Turn right off Essex Way at end of hedgerow and walk down by side of another hedgerow on right. Go over a small bridge in the corner then bear right and left and aim towards an arched footbridge (Nunn's footbridge) over the river. Look out for a variety of wild flowers and watch out for boggy areas after rainfall.
Nunn's footbridge was originally made in 1896 by local blacksmith and public rights of way campaigner, Dick Nunn. Recently the footbridge has been repaired and strengthened. Take care crossing.
Carefully cross over the river at the arched footbridge then turn right and follow the river along the footpath. Look out for any wildlife activity in the river and/or observe the general area for trees and plants. Follow the footpath, round the horseshoe in river, and approximately 5 minutes later turn left on the path up to the right side of Coggeshall Town football club, leading to the main road (West Street).
A clear and clean stretch of river to follow along for a short period once you've crossed over the footbridge. Look out for bird-life, such as swans. Other wildlife including otters, water vole and mink have all been seen by locals at various times.
Now turn right and in approximately 200 yds or so you will reach West Street Vineyard, which is well worth a visit.
West Street Vineyard
The vineyard has been in existence for 30 years. After becoming run-down and neglected was bought in 2009 by the Mohan family, and the existing 800 Faber wines extended to include 3000 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It offers wine walking tours, wine tasting and of course a modern and informed café.
After visiting West Street Vineyard, retrace your steps, cross over the road, turn right, then left at footpath sign. Keep on footpath through gate then keep ahead (electric fencing on left) to second gate, with paddock on your left. Keep straight ahead with wall on your right. Cross straight over track and onto open field. Take right fork by some trees and with copse on your right, keep ahead until next path junction.
At path junction turn right through the gate, through car park to main road. Cross over road turn right and along to Paycocke's House.
Paycocke's House is built on top of a Roman road. Built around 1500 for Thomas Paycocke, the house is a grand example of the wealth generated by the cloth trade in the 16th-century. Marvel at the stunning woodcarving and elaborate panelling inside this merchant's house, while outside there's a beautiful and tranquil cottage garden. Enjoy a stroll through the garden simply sit, relax and enjoy the peace and quiet, or enjoy a coffee in the new coffee shop.
On exiting Paycocke's, turn right along West Street - there's a memorial garden on right hand side that's worth a detour. Go straight over at road junction to the next junction at The White Hart Hotel close to town.
At The White Hart Hotel junction you have the option of going into town and exploring the antique shops and cafés and look out for the Victorian Clock Tower. Otherwise, turn right at this junction, signposted Kelvedon and Grange Barn. Before the bridge there's a picnic area on right-hand side where ducks will often be seen. Cross the bridge and half way up hill to the Essex Way by Grange Barn.
Victorian Clock Tower
It was decided that a clock tower would be built in Market Hill for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. However, the money raised fell short of the sum required, so it was decided to increase the height of the existing old tower and install a new clock. The clock was made by the Midland Clock Company, now owned by Smiths of Derby, who still service and repair the clock.
You now have the option to cross over the road from Grange Barn and follow the Essex Way footpath eastwards to see both St Nicholas Chapel (originally part of the Abbey and restored in 1956) and after another 10-minute walk, the 'guesthouse' Abbey ruins, further down on the left.
The Abbey was founded in 1140 by King Stephen of England and Matilda of Boulogne as a Savigniac house, but became Cistercian in 1147 upon the absorption of the order. The Abbey finally closed in 1538 during Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries.
At the Abbey ruins, return back along the Essex Way, cross over main road then back into Coggeshall Grange Barn. Spend some time here if you did not do it earlier, and look at the exhibits.
Grange Barn car park, grid ref: TL848223
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