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Monument Name Coggeshall Abbey
SMR Number 8650
Summary Founded in 1140, probably, for monks of the order of Savigny by King Stephen and Queen Maud.
Media
Water Mill, Coggeshall
Water Mill, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall
Associated Media
None Available
Description Founded in 1140, probably, for monks of the order of Savigny by King Stephen and Queen Maud. It became Cistercian in 1147. The church is represented by foundations of the nave arcades; apparently mid-C12. The rest of the church shows as marks in the turf, seeming to indicate a C13-C14 expansion of the E arm and the addition of a large chapel N of the nave. The existing pier and respond of the supposed `Farmery Hall' are mid-C12. The Dorter range seems to have been extended to the S in c1220. This extension is the only part to survive. Soon after c1220, the two-storeyed arcade to the E and the crosswing at its S end were built. The detached building SE of the Dorter range was built c1200. The abbey was dissolved in 1539 and the existing dwelling house built or rebuilt in 1581 E of the Dorter range. The abbey gatehouse chapel also survives (see 8653). RCHM has plan and photos, and mentions, but does not describe the fish ponds (see 8654). <1> A series of test holes were dug in the 1950s to confirm the foundation lines. The outline of the church appears as parch marks in dry summers. The church seems to have been completed by 1167 and survived, with few additions, until the Dissolution. The cloister seems to have been contemporary with the church. A small-scale excavation of the Chapter House found a tiled floor and tiled seats for the monks. The cloister walk also seemed to have been tiled. A burial was found close to the Chapter House, in a brick-lined grave. This may have been the tomb of the Chronicler and Abbot Ralph (Abbot 1207-1218). The surviving claustral buildings include part of the infirmary (in the later C16 mansion), apparently part of the original pre-1168 range of buildings the Dorter range to the S of this - the S end built c1180 and vaulted and altered in c1220; the corridor east of this is also of c1220; the building to the S of the Dorter range is almost certainly the Abbot's lodging, built c1190. The detached building to the SE was probably a guest house. Excavations in the latter indicate it was used at various times as a kitchen, stable and building store. It may have gone out of use as a guesthouse when a new gatehouse and chapel were added on the W side of the Abbey in C13. Excavations on the W side of the cloister indicate that this side was rebuilt in mid-C15. This source discusses the Abbey's history, also its early medieval brickwork. The bricks apparently came from the Tilkey area N of Coggeshall, from finds reported there. The early bricks are in two series, mid-C12 and c1220 when a roll-moulded series came into use. Plain and decorated tiles have been found from the Abbey. The designs are mostly simple but very individualistic, suggesting the monks supplied their own needs. <2> Plan of church is tracable in dry weather. Its site is under lawn and flower beds. HBMC suggest the `Abbot's Lodging' could be misericorde and infirmary chapel and the free-standing building could be the reredorter. <6> <7> Floor of tiles of edge has been exposed in the `guest house'. Cart lodge 60m S of Coggeshall Abbey house is C16 or earlier. <8> Other refs: <9> <10> <11> <12> APs in SMR, also copies of plans from Gardner's article, also various photos of the upstanding building. <13 - <17> Some APs not in SMR. <18> AP<19> The abbey church and the majority of the conventual buildings survive only as foundations and buried remains, although portions of the eastern arm of the claustral range (which originally formed a square around an open garth to the south of the church) still stand, retained within and alongside Abbey Farm: a post-Dissolution country house and modern farm. Parchmarks caused by underlying masonry have been recorded across the lawns to the north of the present house, and together with some very small scale excavations in the 1950s, indicate that the abbey church was approximately 61m in length, laid out in standard cruciform plan with an additional chapel on the north side of the nave. To the south of the church were located the cloisters, refectory, dormitory and other buildings. Further limited excavations in the 1950s revealed the well-preserved foundations of the chapter house attached to the south transept of the church, slightly to the north west of the present house. These remains included tiled floors and seats and a brick-lined grave, possibly that of Ralph, the sixth abbot. The present house does contain some earlier fabric, believed to represent the infirmary hall, which was formerly attached to a parlour immediately to the south of the chapter house. The house continues in use as a private residence; it is Listed Grade I and is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included. Traces of the cloister walk (with evidence of plain tile paving) were also uncovered in the 1950s, leading south towards the dorter (the monks dormitory) at the southern end of the eastern claustral range. Only two walls, those to the south and east, now stand to mark the position of the dorter. These show clear evidence that the hall was vaulted to support a substantial upper storey, presumably the dormitory itself. It is also apparent however, that the vaulting was preceded by an earlier building phase dating from around 1180, during which the lower walls were pierced by numerous brick-lined segmental arches. These arches were subsequently blocked, probably about 1220, to provide extra support for the additional storey. The eastern wall of the dorter serves as one side of a narrow corridor-like chamber, also dated to around 1220, which retains both original stories over its full length of some 12m. The ground floor is linked to the dorter undercroft by a doorway set within one of the earlier archways, and a similar doorway once connected the corridor with the infirmary hall to the north. The upper floor, which retains vestiges of painted wall plaster, is thought to have served as the abbot's private chamber since it is connected to the abbot's lodging - a rectangular hall set across the southern end of the dorter and sharing its southern wall. This hall is thought to date from around 1190. The lower storey may have served as the abbot's dining hall, although it has been considerably altered over the years for farm use. The upper floor has seen less disturbance and is still clearly recognisable as a chapel - containing both a niche (or aumbry) and a piscina A detached rectangular building stands a few metres south of the abbot's lodging, orientated north east-south west in line with the river rather than north-south in common with the rest of the range. This is considered to be the abbey guest house. The building measures some 7.6m by 4.8m and, although tall enough for two stories, only contained one. Both the east and west walls are pierced by four tall lancet windows. Doorways were originally placed at the western ends of the north and south walls, although only the northern round headed archway survives - the southern wall having long since been removed to allow cart access. Excavation of the floor of the guest house in the 1950s demonstrated successive uses as a stable, a kitchen and a building store. A straw-burning heating system was installed within the structure in the 1980s, at which time the floor was reinforced with concrete and a new chimney added. <20> The standing monastic buildings and most of the excavated foundations are composed primarily of flint and chalk rubble. Most significant, however, is the use of brick for the quoins, buttresses, pillars and decorative mouldings These roll-moulded and composite forms were produced locally (probably at Tilkey on the outskirts of Coggeshall) for the particular requirements of the abbey, and include some of the earliest examples of medieval brick construction in the British Isles Little is known of the remaining components of the southern and western claustral ranges, although the layout probably followed a basic pattern routinely adopted by Cistercian houses. The south range is therefore likely to have to included the kitchen, refectory and reredorter (latrines), whilst the western arm probably consisted mainly of the cellarer's hall and stores. The northern part of the western range has been observed as parchmarks and a small area was excavated in the 1950s to reveal the foundations of a pentagonal lavatorium (or washing place) and evidence for a comprehensive rebuilding phase in the mid-15th century. The south western part of the claustral range is mainly overlain by later farm buildings. <20> Other buildings, particularly more prosaic structures related to the economy of the abbey, would have been detached from the cloisters although still set within the precinct which separated the monastery from the secular world. The precise outline of the abbey precinct is not recorded, although its minimum extent is thought to have been retained as a property boundary after the Dissolution. The scheduling of the abbey site reflects the position of this enclosure, which was recorded on an estate map of 1639 and which has also appeared in part as a cropmark recorded from the air. The boundary crosses the field to the north of the abbey church at a distance of some 80m (thereby allowing ample space for the monk's cemetery) before turning south along the eastern side of St Nicholas' churchyard and along the western boundaries of the farmyard towards Abbey Mill. The eastern side of the precinct may have been marked by the River Blackwater, this section of which is artificial - dug by the monks to supply the mill. The channel has since been recut and it is not included in the scheduling. Similarly, the site of the original abbey mill was significantly altered in the 18th and 19th centuries and is also not included. St Nicholas' Church, facing the town on the western edge of the precinct, was built in the early 13th century using brickwork comparable to that of the main abbey buildings. It is thought to have originated as a gatehouse chapel, although it may have acquired a broader role after the abbey relinquished control over the parish church in 1223. After 300 years spent as a barn following the Dissolution, the chapel was restored between 1860 and 1890 and returned to ecclesiastical use. <20> The fishponds to the east of the river extend over a distance of approximately 140m, within the narrow strip of land between the canalised River Blackwater and a smaller channel called the 'Back Ditch'. At present the ponds appear as three shallow and largely dry rectangular depressions - those to north and south measuring some 20m square, and the central pond similar in width but some 75m in length. The 1639 estate map depicts a similar layout, but with the northern pond subdivided and the division between the central and southern pond located somewhat further to the north. Although the cartulary has not survived, a reasonably full picture of the abbey's history can be gathered from the writings of Ralph, abbot from 1207 to 1218, as well as from later charters, wills and associated manorial records. The abbey was founded by King Stephen around 1140, favouring the Savignac Order from the Mortain region of Brittany - of which Stephen was also the Count. The land chosen for the abbey was provided by his queen, Matilda, having formerly belonged to her father, Count Eustace of Boulogne, and included the manor of Coggeshall. Although work commenced under the authority of the Savignacs, this order collapsed in 1147 and a Papal Bull of 1148 placed all its former properties under the control of Citeaux. Consequently, by the time of the abbey church's completion in 1167 (signified by the dedication of the high altar) the abbey was fully part of the Cistercian Order. The following year the second abbot, Simon de Toni, returned to his own Abbey of Melrose having apparently supervised the transfer of authority and the final stages of the church building. <20> The abbey continued to prosper throughout the 13th century, developing the local wool trade and acquiring various lands and rights through both royal and local grants. Despite these sources of wealth, however, the abbey is known to have become impoverished in the later 14th century, partly as a result of mismanagement and partly due to the Crown's imposition of expensive corrodies (pensioned livings within the precinct) for various favoured subjects. This practice may have developed in later years. The will of Sir John Sharpe, dated 1518, makes reference to his having held the lease of a 'mansion and lodgings at Coggeshall Abbey'. Sir John's lease has not survived but that granted to his successor, Clement Harleston, places the mansion next to the infirmary. Harleston also had exclusive use of St Katherine's Chapel, on the north side of the nave of the abbey church. <20> Following inspections by Cromwell's commissioners in 1535 and 1536, Abbot William Love was dismissed and replaced by the more compliant Abbot of Tower Hill, Henry More. More surrendered the abbey to the Crown in 1538, at which point it was handed, together with all its lands and appurtenances, to Sir Thomas Seymour. Seymour exchanged the abbey site for other lands in 1541 and as this transfer required a survey, we know that the abbey church was already levelled by this time. The timber framed mansion formerly occupied by Sharpe and Harleston was retained after the Dissolution. A fireplace in an east facing outside wall shows that it was later partly subsumed within the new house constructed around the skeleton of the infirmary by Anne Paycocke and her husband, Richard Benton in 1581. <20> The house, now the principal residence of Abbey Farm, was much altered in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, although it still displays many of its earlier features, including 16th century chimney stacks, oriel windows and the west porch. <20> Site Management: Scheduled area seems to include all farm buildings but not the dwelling house. Many of existing barns have been recovered, altered, or added to. Scheduling should be updated to take account of this. Brick bridge should be included (see 8659). Changes in area of scheduling include swimming pool construction, pasture-arable conversion of lawn-vegetable garden. SMC granted for these? <6> <7> Site Assessment: The remains are interesting, as those of a Cistercian Abbey of unusual plan. The early use of brick both here and in the gatehouse chapel is noteworthy. <1> Supposedly the earliest medieval brickwork in England. <3> SMC granted for erection of a barn adjacent to a piggery, 1982. A watching brief was to be done - carried out? <4> A straw burning machine was installed in guest house and a chimney built (illegally) in 1984. However, no prosecution as archaeological Deterioration reported in vaulted undercroft of Dorter in 1987. Consolidation advised, in 1987, to `Abbot's lodgings'. <6> A geophysical survey from the eastern end of the Abbey church site showed that the church was ca. 5m shorter than was previously recorded from parchmarks. It also clarified some of the structures on the eastern sides of the transepts. Foundation walls along the lines of the nave continue across the transepts. Neither the resistance nor the magnetic survey revealed the position of the north west section of the precinct wall. <22> Site visit (informal): Nothing visible is in danger of imminant collapse, however the site has a neglected appearance with the usual maintenance problems. <21>
Monument Type(s) HOSPITAL (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
CHURCH (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
INHUMATION (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
TOMB (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
ABBEY (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
BUILDING (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
UNDERCROFT (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
WALL (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
Monument Class(es) BRICK
CROPMARK
DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
EXTANT BUILDING
FIND
RUINED BUILDING
STONE
SUB SURFACE DEPOSIT
Period 1066AD to 1539AD Medieval
Status Not Known
Administration Area COGGESHALL, BRAINTREE, ESSEX
National Grid Reference Square: TL82SE
Ref: 856222
Finds STONE ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Dated 1066AD To 1539AD)

Events PART EXCAV by Gardner, JS,

Field visit to 8650 by Paterson, H, FMW on APR-1980

Field visit to 8650 by Chant, K, FMW on JUL-1983

Field visit to 8650 by Paterson, H, FMW on MAR-1987

Field visit to 8650 by Priddy, D

Coggeshall Abbey

Field visit to 8650 by Paterson, H, FMW on AUG-1989

Field visit to 8650 by Paterson, H, FMW on APR-1992

Sources Aerial Photo : 143-7 (unknown) Dated : unknown

Aerial Photo : 155-4 (unknown) Dated : unknown

Aerial Photo : 177-8, 9 (unknown) Dated : unknown

Aerial Photo : 2013 (unknown) Dated : 1986

Aerial Photo : 21/2-6 (Rogers, P) Dated : 1988

Aerial Photo : 43.2, 3, 4, 5, (Rogers, P) Dated : 1990

Aerial Photo : 80-8, 9, 10, 11; 81-1, 2 (unknown) Dated : 1988

Desc Text : Coggeshall Historic Towns Assessment Report (Medlycott, Maria) Dated : 1999

<1> Desc Text : An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex - Volume 3 (RCHME) Vol 3, pp165-168 Dated : 1922

<10> Desc Text : Medieval Religious Houses (Knowles, D and Hadcock, RN) p112, 117 Dated : 1971

<11> Desc Text : Three Historical Buildings at Little Coggeshall (Went, David) Vol 10, No 65, pp342-343, copy in SMR Dated : 1962

<12> Desc Text : Essex (unknown) Vol 2, pp125-129 Dated : 1907

<13> Aerial Photo : CBU79 (unknown) Dated : 1979

<14> Aerial Photo : TL82-025 (Tyler, Sue) print from slide Dated : 1986

<15> Photograph : TL82-025 (Gardner, JS) copies of plates from source 2 Dated : unknown

<16> Photograph : TL82-025 (Clarke, CP) 3 colour plates Dated : 1984

<17> Photograph : TL82-025 (unknown) 6 B&W frames Dated : unknown

<18> Aerial Photo : CR023,024,025 (StJoseph, JK) Dated : 1949

<19> Aerial Photo : COGGESHALL ABBEY (unknown) Dated : 1988

<2> Excavation report : Coggeshall Abbey and its Early Brickwork (Gardner, JS) Third Series, Vol 18, pp19-32, copy in SMR Dated : 1955

<20> Scheduling record : EH Scheduling - Coggeshall Abbey - SM 29426 (English Heritage) Dated : 1999

<21> Scheduling record : EH Scheduled Ancient Monuments (Malone, C) Dated : 1989

<22> Desc Text : Geophysical Survey Report, Coggeshall Abbey, Coggeshall (Braintree) Essex: National Monument No.29426 (Black, A and Black, D) Dated : 2004

<3> Desc Text : The Buildings of England, Essex (Pevsner, N) p251 Dated : 1954

<4> CORRESPONDENCE : SMR (Wells, BC) Dated : 1982

<5> CORRESPONDENCE : SMR (MacDonald, M) Dated : 1985

<6> Scheduling record : DOE Scheduled Ancient Monuments (Department of the Environment) Parts 9-11 Dated : 1987

<7> Scheduling record : DOE Scheduled Ancient Monuments (Department of the Environment) Part 4 Dated : 1985

<8> Desc Text : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: Braintree (Department of the Environment) pp7-12 Dated : 1988

<9> Desc Text : SMR form unknown Dated : 1960 0nwards

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