We’ve visited Coggeshall many times over the years, and have always enjoyed exploring the village. This year though we went with a purpose. I’d been asked to lead a walk around the village for the Essex WEA, so I needed to go and do a little more exploring, and make sure that I had a good route planned for the group.
We went on a sunny Sunday morning in August.
We started the walk in the middle of the village, and with the Clock Tower behind us we walked past The Chapel Inn, one of the oldest buildings in Coggeshall. We turned right and walked along West Street to the famous National Trust house Paycockes. This was once the home of wool merchants, who became very wealthy from the wool trade during the Medieval period.
After Paycockes we retraced our footsteps, turning right along a lane called The Gravel. This took us across the white painted iron bridge that crosses the River Blackwater, and then up to the other National Trust property in Coggeshall, the 13th century Grange Barn.
After Grange Barn we crossed back over Grange Hill and followed the unmade road that took us to Coggeshall Abbey. On the way we passed by the little chapel of St. Nicholas. It’s used for services once a month by the parish church of St. Peter ad Vincula, but sadly when we passed by it was closed. Maybe next time we visit it will be open.
Coggeshall Abbey is now a private home, but you can sometimes visit on organised tours as part of the Invitation to View programme.
We then passed by Coggeshall Mill, which was first built by the monks at Coggeshall Abbey and over the years was used as a fulling mill, and for milling grain.
The path became quite rutted at this point, and in the winter months would probably be rather muddy.
We reached a field where there were horses grazing, where we turned left. We followed the footpath along the side of the fields. it’s way marked, and as with much of the walk is part of the long-distance walk The Essex Way.
We came out on to East Street, which was the A120, before the by-pass was built in the early 1980’s.
We turned left and walked towards the village, but then cut across the park on the right hand side of the road. In the park is the village war memorial. On the far side of the park there is a short alleyway, the old red brick walls on either side are carved with the initials of generations of Coggeshall people, maybe they’re the names of children on their way to school.
The alleyway brought us out on to West Street. At this point we could have turned right and visited the grand parish church of St. Peter ad Vincula. But we decided to go straight back in to the village centre for lunch as by this time we were very hungry. There are plenty of places to eat in the village, but we went back to a tearoom that we have been to many times, The Clockhouse Cafe on Stonham Street. It serves very tasty food, and has a welcoming atmosphere. We really like the attractive courtyard garden where you can sit in the warm weather. The garden is filled with plants growing in pots, which you can buy from the small garden centre that is at the back of the garden.
As I write this it’s a cold, wet autumn day, and it’s difficult to imagine that we went on the walk in high summer just six weeks ago. If you’re looking for a walk with family or friends, with a bit of history and lovely countryside in Essex this is a good one to follow.
Our walk was based on two we found on the National Trusts website, one a children’s walk, and one a circular walk.