Little Coggeshall

Pages 165-168

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 3, North East. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1922.

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In this section


(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxvi. S.W. (b)xxxv. N.W.)

Little Coggeshall is a small parish adjoining Great Coggeshall on the S. St. Nicholas' Chapel and Abbey are the principal monuments.


b(1A). A very curious find, probably a burial, made apparently early in the 16th century, seems worthy of record and possibly indicates occupation somewhere in the western end of the parish. "In a place called Westfield, ¾ m. distant from Cogeshall and belonging to the Abbay there, was found by touching of a plough a great brasen potte . . . . the mouth of the potte was closed with a white substance like past or claie, as hard as burned bricke, when that by force was remooued, there was found within it another potte, but that was of earth; that beeing opened there was found in it a lesser potte of earth of the quantitie of a gallon covered with a matter like veluet, and fastned at the mouth with a silke-lace. In it they found some whole bones and many peeces of small bones wrapped up in fine silke of fresh colour" (Philemon Holland's ed. of Camden's Britannia, 1610, p. 449). Westfield has been located to the N. of Cuthedge Lane, and somewhere between it and Curd Hall, and not near Highfields in Great Coggeshall parish as marked on the Ordnance map (Beaumont, Hist. of Coggeshall (1890), pp. 7, 85). A denarius of M. Antonius and a 'third brass' of Hadrian have been found at Curd Hall and Scripps Farm respectively (Ibid.).


b(1). St. Nicholas' Chapel (Plate, p. 127), formerly the "capella extra portas" of the Cistercian Abbey, stands in the N.E. corner of the parish. The walls are of flint-rubble mixed with brick and tiles and with quoins and dressings of 13th-century bricks; the roof is tiled. The Chapel was built c. 1220 and remains without structural alteration.

It is of exceptional interest, both from its original purpose and from the extensive use of 13th-century bricks.

Architectural Description—The Chapel (43½ ft. by 20 ft.) is a plain rectangular building with brick quoins. In the E. wall is a brick window of three lancet lights enclosed in a two-centred outer order and with roll-moulded splays and two-centred rear-arch. In the N. wall are four lancet-windows of brick and of similar detail to the E. window; all are slightly restored. In the S. wall are four windows similar to those in the N. wall, but the third window is much restored or perhaps rebuilt; W. of it is a modern S. doorway. In the W. wall is a window similar to the E. window, but badly weathered externally.

The Roof has been entirely reconstructed, but is of the trussed-rafter type and incorporates some old timbers.

Fittings—Chair: with curved arms, panelled back and sides, 17th-century. Chest: with carved, panelled and inlaid front, one lock, early 17th-century. Locker: In N. wall—rectangular recess with oak sill and lintel, date uncertain. Painting: On sedilia, on soffit of E. bay, remains of red masonry lines; at back of middle bay remains of cruciform nimbus or consecration cross, 13th-century. Paving: In threshold of S. doorway, of cut and shaped bricks forming pattern, 13th-century. Piscinae: In S. wall—at E. end, with chamfered jambs and trefoiled head, 13th-century, probably not in situ; in range with sedilia, of brick with hollow-chamfered E. jamb and rough two-centred head, remains of sill, 13th-century. Sedilia: In range with piscina, of three bays with defaced two-centred arches, hollow-chamfered W. jamb and modern piers between the bays, 13th-century. Table: small, with turned legs, 17th-century.



a(2). Coggeshall Abbey (Plates, pp. 166, 167), house, foundations, outbuildings and fish-ponds, 150 yards E.S.E. of the chapel. The abbey was founded for monks of the order of Savigny by King Stephen and Queen Maud, probably in 1140. It became Cistercian in 1147. The foundations of the Nave arcades appear to be of mid 12th-century date and the existing pier and respond of the supposed Farmery Hall are of about the same date. The rest of the church, as represented by marks in the turf, appears to indicate a 13th or 14th-century extension of the eastern arm and the addition of a large chapel N. of the nave. The Dorter Range appears to have been extended to the S. c. 1220, and this extension is the only part now surviving; very shortly after the two-storeyed corridor E. of the extension and the cross-wing at its S. end were built. The detached building S.E. of the dorter range was built c. 1200. The abbey was dissolved in 1539, and c. 1581 the existing dwelling-house was built or rebuilt, to the E. of the dorter range.

Little Coggeshall, The Abbey of St. Mary the Virgin

The remains are of great interest as those of a Cistercian Abbey of unusual plan. The early use of brick both here and in the gatehouse chapel (1) is noteworthy.

The Abbey Church is represented only by marks in the turf after a long drought. It appears to have had a total internal length of about 210 ft. by 80 ft. across the transepts. Excavations undertaken in 1914 revealed the brick bases of the western piers of the nave, together with fragments of the screen-walls between them. Portions of the N. and W. walls of a large chapel N. of the nave were also uncovered. It is probable that the E. arm of the church was extended at some period subsequent to the 12th century.

There are no traces of the buildings immediately adjoining the church on the S., but the S. end of the Dorter Range still exists about 153 ft. S. of the transept of the church. From the slightly divergent alignments of this building and the 16th-century house it appears probable that this part is an extension of the earlier dorter range, the line of which is probably represented by the house. The existing remains are of c. 1220 and consist of the S. and part of the E. walls. It was covered by a stone vault with a row of columns down the centre and quadripartite bays. The keying of the vault remains on the two walls, together with parts of the vaulting shafts on the E. side; these are semi-circular on plan with moulded capitals; in the S.E. angle is a moulded corbel. In the E. wall the S. bay is occupied by a brick doorway of c. 1220 with jambs and two-centred arch of two moulded orders; in the next bay is a blocked doorway of the same date with external stone jambs of two shafted orders and richly moulded head, partly destroyed; the unusually lofty rear-arch is also moulded; the third bay has a small opening with a four-centred head.

Adjoining the dorter range on the E. is a two-storeyed corridor, evidently built to provide direct communication between the Farmery Hall and the cross-wing at the end of the dorter. It is of slightly later date than the dorter extension and is of three bays with a narrow half-bay at the N. end; each of the full bays is covered by a quadripartite vault with ribs of brick; the E. wall is divided into bays by brick buttresses and has arches either two-centred or semi-circular, formerly open but now partly closed in; the arches have a chamfered inner order stopping at imposts below which the order is continued as two roll-mouldings; the northernmost of these arches was partly destroyed probably in the 16th century and replaced by a pointed brick arch enclosing a doorway with a four-centred head and a window of three four-centred lights. The N. half-bay of the corridor is covered by a barrel-vault and between it and the N. bay is a detached shaft with a moulded capital, from which springs the cross-arch of the vault. In the N. wall of the corridor is a doorway generally similar to that in the E. wall of the dorter extension but now plastered and painted.

The Cross-wing at the S. end of the dorter range is of the same date as the corridor. It may possibly have served as the Misericorde on the ground floor and as the Farmery Chapel on the first floor. The building has original buttresses of brick and several doorways and windows inserted late in the 16th century and subsequently altered. The ground floor has an opening in the N. wall, from the corridor; on the W. side of it is the original buttress of the dorter range. In the S. wall at the E. end is an opening with an original rear-arch. The first floor has in the N. wall the remains of the three buttresses at the end of the dorter range. The doorway from the corridor at this level is similar in date and detail to that at the N. end of the lower corridor. In the E. wall are two original lancetwindows and between them is a recess with a two-centred head. In the S. wall near the E. end is a recess with a two-centred head, possibly for a piscina. In the building are various scratchings of mediaeval and later date.

The detached building to the S.E. is of very unusual type and doubtful purpose. It is of c. 1200 and built of flint-rubble, with a large admixture of brick; all the dressings are of brick. The S. wall has been destroyed but otherwise the building is intact. The E. and W. walls have each four lancet-windows with recessed jambs of two orders; below the windows is a series of plain recesses with pointed heads, four in the E. and five in the W. wall. The N. wall has a blocked doorway with a round rear-arch and further E. is a wide recess with a modern pier in the middle. The roof has a large tie-beam and curved wind-braces of the 16th or 17th century.

The House is of two storeys, partly of brick and partly of plastered timber-framing. It was built about the middle of the 16th century. The W. front has a two-storeyed porch wing with a projecting gable on curved brackets. The outer doorway has a flat four-centred head and is set in a projection with a moulded entablature; above it is a shield with the initials R.[B.]A. and a device, and below it the date 1[5]81. On each side of the porch is a 16th-century window, now blocked. N. of the porch is a window of the same date and of five lights with brick mullions and transom. On the E. side of the house is a large chimney-stack with an embattled offset and four octagonal shafts with moulded bases; at the base of the stack is a fireplace with a four-centred head, showing that the building formerly extended further in this direction. Other stacks are partly of 16th-century date. At the E. end of the timberframed back wing is a 16th-century bay-window of five lights, with moulded frame and mullions; flanking this window are two small windows each of two lights and now blocked. Inside the building the main N. room has 16th-century moulded ceilingbeams and joists and the walls have early 17th-century panelling to half their height. At the S. end is part of an early 17th-century screen, consisting of three arcaded bays with foliated spandrels and divided by fluted Doric pilasters supporting an entablature with a fluted frieze; the middle bay appears to have been a doorway and the spandrels have the initials R.B. Other rooms on the ground floor have 16th-century ceiling-beams and doors. In the kitchen is some late 16th or early 17th-century panelling. On the first floor the room over the hall (now divided up) has panelled walls divided into bays by pilasters; the fireplace in the E. wall is flanked by fluted pilasters standing on tall pedestals; the overmantel has three arcaded panels with foliated spandrels and divided by pilasters, all of early 17th-century date. The upper part of the staircase has early 18th-century turned balusters.

Incorporated in the E. wing of the house is a W. respond and a cylindrical pier of mid to late 12th-century date and probably forming part of the former Farmery Hall. They are built of brick and the pier has a scalloped stone capital, much damaged. The upper part of the pointed arch resting upon them is visible in a room on the first floor.

Condition—Of house, good; of ruins, fairly well preserved.

Monuments (3–7).

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered or weather-boarded; the roofs are tiled. Many of the buildings have original chimney-stacks and exposed ceiling-beams.

Condition—Good, or fairly good.

b(3). Coggeshall Hall (Plate, p. 177), house and barn, about 1 m. S.S.E. of St. Nicholas' Chapel and partly in Kelvedon parish. The House was built late in the 16th century and extended to the N. early in the following century; there is a modern wing at the S. end. The upper storey projects on most of the W. front and has an original bressumer carved with grotesque monsters. The central chimney-stack has grouped diagonal shafts.

The Barn, N.W. of the house, is probably of the same date and is of six bays.

b(4). Curd Hall (Plate, p. 177), about 1¼ m. W.S.W. of St. Nicholas' Chapel, has a modern addition on the S.W. The original chimney-stack has diagonal pilaster strips. There are two projecting gables on the N. front with original moulded bressumers and barge-boards. Inside the building the original staircase has flat wavy balusters and moulded handrail.

a(5). Grange Farm, house and barn, 500 yards W. of St. Nicholas' Chapel. The House was built c. 1600 and is of three storeys with 18th-century and modern additions on the S.W. Inside the building a room on the first floor is lined with original panelling having an enriched frieze and dentilled cornice; the overmantel has two arcaded panels flanked and divided by grotesque terminal figures. In the S. wall is a window of six transomed lights with moulded frames and mullions. The upper part of the staircase is original and has symmetrically turned balusters and octagonal newels with acorn-shaped tops. In the attic is an original fireplace with chamfered jambs and three-centred arch of brick.

The Barn, N. of the house, is probably of late 15th or early 16th-century date and is of six bays with aisles and two porches. It is about 130 ft. by 45 ft., and has a roof of king-post type.

a(6). House, now tenements, on E. side of road, N. of Long Bridge, has an original chimney-stack with five octagonal shafts.

a(7). House, now tenements, on W. side of road, 70 yards N. of (6).

a(8). Long Bridge, about ¼ m. W. of the chapel, is of three spans and of red brick. It was built probably in the 13th century, as the brickwork is similar to that employed at the Abbey, and has been widened on the E. side in modern times. The arches are slightly pointed and the 'cutwaters' are additions of doubtful date.

Condition—Good, much restored.

a(9). Stone, set in wall of modern house, on E. side of the road, ¼ m. W. of the chapel, is carved with a shield of arms and an inscription to Edward Larke and Ann, his wife, 1699.