Why is Grange Barn important?
Grange Barn lies in the small market town of Coggeshall, North Essex. It is one of the oldest timber-framed buildings in Europe, dating back to the 13th Century. It was heavily altered a century later. Whilst considered world treasures, these medieval timber barns are actually fairly common in Essex. Cressing Temple, not too far away, is an old farmstead home to two other 13th-Century barns built circa 1220 and 1280; the oldest in the world. Grange barn was built sometime between these two; they are all Grade I listed today. You can watch our documentary on Cressing Temple’s similar barns here. The barn at Coggeshall was built by Catholic Cisterian monks, to serve those based at Coggeshall Abbey which also still stands. It would have been used for a variety of roles although primarily the barn served as a granary.
How has Grange Barn changed over the years?
Grange Barn was altered heavily during the 14th Century; its walls were raised, doors and porches enlarged, and its roof was strengthened. Since, other changes have been made. Its walls would have originally been made of wattle and daub (wicker fences strengthened with straw and mud). They are now brick. Wagon access was encouraged during the 18th Century by further enlarging the porches. It was kept in agricultural use until 1960 when it was left derelict.
During the 1970s, it became that the barn was in a dire need of repair after suffering an arson attack, and its fate looked dim. Emergency repairs were made in 1972, and in 1974 the Coggeshall Grange Barn Fund was established. However, in 1976 the farmer who owned the land applied to see the barn demolished. This fortunately failed and 1981 Braintree District Council made a compulsory purchase of the barn. Restoration work begun in 1983, bringing the painstakingly rebuilt barn up the standard it is seen today.
You can visit the barn yourself under the National Trust. Check opening times first.