Paycocke's- The House
The House at Paycocke's is open for pre-booked guided experiences. Uncover the story behind Paycocke’s House, a glorious example of Tudor craftmanship as we safely reopen this summer. With our team of volunteer guides on hand to personally talk you through the quaint beamed rooms and tell you age-old stories that might take you by surprise, there’s so much to discover here in this unique merchant’s home.
Coggeshall had a thirving cloth trade for many years, and Thomas Paycocke used his property to display his wealth and status. On the ceiling beams of the entrance hall you will see carvings of his and his wife's initials. As the skilled daughter of another local clothier, Margaret Paycocke was the perfect wide to assist the growth of Thomas' business. If you look closely at the hall beams, you might even notice a face peering back down at you... Over the centuries, Paycocke's House has passed through various families and was split into several separate dwellings.
After it fell into disrepair during the late 1800's, it was saved by Lord Noel Buxton, who was a descendant of one of the previous owners. After its renovation in 1924 he donated the property to the National Trust.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall forms the most decorative part of the new elevation built by Thomas Paycocke in 1509-1510 on the site of a mid-15th century building he inherited from his father. Thomas’s new building was constructed in the latest Continental European style, formed of five bays each providing individual rooms for different purposes and thus marking a distinct change from the previous fashion for open hall type dwellings.
A number of architectural features indicate this room was no ordinary dwelling but was designed to impress. We believe it was used as the main show room for Thomas’s woollen cloth business and where his high quality produce would be displayed and sold.
The Panelled Room
The Panelled Room forms the fourth bay of the new elevation built by Thomas Paycocke in 1509-1510 and has been considerably altered since that time.
Given this room is adjacent to the Great Hall on one side, and to the cartway on the other, it would have afforded Thomas a strategic view of the comings and goings of his trade. Therefore it is likely he used it as a service room and his main business room. This was a common arrangement for merchant houses of the time. No doubt Thomas may have invested in linenfold panelling to add status to the room, although it should be noted that not all the panelling present today is original to the house.
The Great Chamber
The Great Chamber is the largest room in the building and is displayed as it was probably used in Thomas Paycocke’s time, an entertaining space and somewhere he could take favoured clients for a meal and a private conversation. He could afford the best quality and widest range of food and wine - an additional way to impress them with his wealth and success.
During the later history of the house this room was used as a bedroom and has possibly been divided in two at some date to create smaller chambers.
In 1509 this room was an anteroom to the Great Chamber. An anteroom does not seem very important, but this was a significant change in how space was used in houses. It had become fashionable to establish a sequence of rooms, maintaining the status of the more important spaces.
In 1509 there would have been a screen passage leading from the front door, across the Great Hall to the staircase. The 1509 staircase led directly from the back of the Hall up to this room, and a further flight led to the second floor which was later removed.
The main function of the Anteroom was to provide a waiting area for Thomas Paycocke’s visitors before they entered the splendour of the Great Chamber where they would be entertained. One door leads to the Great Chamber and another to the bedroom beyond. Today, this room houses some swathes of Coggeshall white, the fabric which Thomas produced.
The Bed Chamber
This room and a jettied attic space above were created at some point after 1510 during a second building phase when a fifth bay was added over the cartway. However, it appears to have been planned from the outset as the jetty and roof plates of the original 1509 building protrude by several inches in a manner that suggests an intention to provide a key for a later addition.
Changes would have been made to this room when the top floor was removed in the late 16th century and then again when the newer wing was added in the early 17th century. However, re-use of old and new timbers make it difficult to determine the exact form of the original Tudor room. Little is known of the purpose of this room, but it is likely to have been used for storage or perhaps as a bedroom.
The Solar Room
Please note, this room will be closed when we reopen to ensure that social distancing can be maintained.
The Solar room is situated at the south end of what was once a jettied block and is believed to be the only remaining section of John Paycocke’s House dated circa 1420 which he passed to his youngest son Thomas in his will of 1504. The medieval building would have had single rooms on both floors and would have stretched almost as far as the street, probably set back perpendicular to the main road.
A Solar room is normally on an upper storey and has good natural light and would probably be where the owner would retire at night. The word Solar has two possible origins, it may have come from the Latin word ‘Solaris’ meaning sun or as the room provided privacy it may come from the Latin word ‘Solus’ meaning alone.
The structure we now see in between the Solar and the main building was built in the early 17th century, the same time the mansard wing was added. Since many recycled timbers have been used it is difficult to date accurately. .