History of Great Coggeshall (Coggeshall)

Coggeshall © Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2005. http://www.francisfrith.com
Bridge Street, Coggeshall, c.1955
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.

History of Great Coggeshall (Coggeshall) >> White's Directory 1848

White's Directory of Essex 1848

COGGESHALL, a small ancient town, is pleasantly situated on the north side of the river Blackwater, and on the Colchester and Braintree road, 9½ miles West by South of Colchester, 5½ miles East of Braintree, and 3 miles North by West of Kelvedon.

It has a fair for pedlery, etc., on Whit-Tuesday, but its market formerly held on Thursday, is now disused.

It was one of the earliest seats of the woollen manufacture in this county, and was celebrated for a kind of bays, or baize, of superior fineness, called "Coggesshall Whites," in making which many persons acquired large fortunes, and one of them, Mr. Thomas Guyon, died here in 1664, worth nearly £100,000.

This trade declined many years ago, and was succeeded by the silk manufacture, which still gives employment to many of the inhabitants, though it is now in a depressed state; and a large mill, built about ten years ago, for the manufacture of French patent silk plush, for hats, is now closed.

Here are several silk velvet weaving establishments, and a large silk throwsting mill; and many females in the town are employed in the tambour lace trade.

The parish of GREAT COGGESHALL contains 2596A.1R.35P. of land, besides about 40A. of roads, etc.; and had 2469 inhabitants, in 1831, and 3408 in 1841. With it is ecclesiastically consolidated the parish of LITTLE COGGESHALL, in Witham Hundred, on the opposite side of the river. The latter was celebrated for its abbey, and had two churches, but has only 443 souls, and 1002A. of land.

Morant affirms that the town owes its existence to the abbey, which, after its foundation, "drew round it a number of inhabitants and dependents;" but some other antiquaries, and particularly Mr. Drake, suppose it to have been of Roman origin; indeed that gentleman argues strongly in favour of its being the Canonium of Antoninus, which others have placed at Writtle, and some at Chelmsford.

Drake endeavours to corroborate his opinion that Coggeshall is the site of the station Canonium, by mentioning some Roman coins and other antiquities found in the vicinity. In an arched brick vault, naar the town, was found a phial with a lamp in it, covered with a Roman tile, 14 inches in diameter; and also some urns, with ashes and bones, and two sacrificing dishes of polished red earth, having at the bottom of one of them, in fair Roman letters, the inscription "Coccili M."

At Westfield, which belonged to the abbey, was found a large brazen pot, and the ploughman who found it sent for the abbot to examine it. The mouth of the pot was closed with a white substance, as hard as burnt brick; when that was removed, there was found another pot, of earth; and within it, a lesser pot, of earth, covered with velvet-like substance, fastened with a silk lace; and within this were found whole bones, and many pieces of small bones, wrapped up in fine silk, of fresh colour. These remains, though insufficient to prove that Coggeshall was a Roman station, are admitted as evidence that it was a Roman villa.

Stonehall Street, Coggeshall © Copyright Footstepsphotos 2006. http://www.footstepsphotos.co.uk/index.html
Stonehall Street, Coggeshall
Low resolution copy courtesy of Footsteps' Shop on Ebay. Quality postcards of Essex.

In Edward the Confessors reign, the lordship of Great and Little Coggeshall was held by Colo, a Saxon; and at the Domesday survey, it was held by Eustace, Earl of Boulogne, whose heiress, Maud, conveyed it to the crown by her marriage with Stephen, Earl of Blois, afterwards king. In 1142, Stephen and his queen founded an ABBEY here, near the river, in Little Coggeshall, for Cistercian monks, and having dedicated it to the Virgin Mary, endowed it with this and other manors.

In 1203, King John granted the abbot and monks permission to enclose and impark their wood at Coggeshall; and in 1247, they obtained liberty of free warren from Henry III., who also invested them with the privileges of holding a weekly market, and an eight days annual fair.

In the reign of Edward III., the monks founded a chantry in their church, to pray daily for the king, the queen, and their issue; in consideration of which, the king, in 1344, granted them a hogshead of red wine, to be delivered every Easter, out of the royal cellar.

A second chantry was founded here, in 1407, by Joan de Bahun, Countess of Hereford, and others, who bestowed some valuable estates upon the monks for its support.

On the surrender of the abbey, in 1538, its annual revenues were valued at £298.8s. In the same year, the site of the abbey, and the manor of Coggeshall and other estates, were granted to Sir Thomas Seymour, but in 1541, he exchanged them with the king for other possessions.

Queen Mary, in the first year of her reign, granted the manor of Great and Little Coggeshall, Home Grange, a water mill, and the fishery of the river, to the wife of Thomas Laventhorpe, for life. Afterwards they passed, with Monk-wood and Little-wood, to Sir Henry Bromley. In 1604, they were held by Cyprian Warner and others, and afterwards by the Mayhews and Lydes.

The heiress of N. Lyde, Esq., (who also bought the dairy farms of Cardhall and Capons,) conveyed these manors and estates, in marriage, to Richard du Cane, Esq., whose posterity have held them to the present time.

Capt. Charles Da Cane, of Boxted, is the present lord of the manors of both parishes, but a great part of the soil belongs to J. Bullock, O. Hanbury, R.M. White, F.U. Pattisson, T. Batt, T. Sadler, C.J. Skingley, J. Hall, and J. Mayhew, Esqs., and several lesser owners, some of whom have neat mansions here.

All that remains of the abbey is part of the church, now thatched and converted into a barn. It is is the form of a nave, chancel, and porch, and the east window it in three lights, apparently about the age of Henry III. The walls are chiefly of flint, with brick dressings.

In the vicinity is a bridge of three arches, originally built by King Stephen, over a chancel that was cut to convey the water of the river nearer to the abbey.

HOLFIELD GRANGE, a handsome seat, about a mile North West of the town, is the property and residence of Osgood Hanbury, Esq., and gives name to a manor which has a pound for waifs and strays. High-field is the seat of R.M. White, Esq.; and Leeze House is the residence of Mrs. Skingley. Bourchier's, vulgarly called Bowser's Grange, is a farm which anciently belonged to the Bourchier family, and was afterwards held by the Smiths and Gordons.

Under the names of Coggeshall Magna-cum-Membris, and Coggeshall Parva, the two parishes form part of the Liberty of the Duchy of Lancaster. John Mayhew, Esq., is deputy coroner for those parts of this extensive liberty which are in this county. Some part of Little Coggeshall was given to Canterbury Cathedral, before the Conquest, by Earl Godwin, and that parish has since been considered a peculiar, in the spiritual jurisdiction of the Archbishop, under his commissary, the dean of Bocking, at whose court a sidesman is chosen every year, who pays 6s.8d. as an acknowledgment.

Mr. John Mayhew is secretary, and Mr. Joseph Denney, manager of the Gas Works.

The town is partly on low ground, bordering on the river, but mostly on the acclivity, whence it was anciently called Sunnedon, or Sunny bank.

church - exterior
St Peter's Church, Great Coggeshall.
© Copyright Peter Stack contributor to the Geograph Project and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Great Coggeshall CHURCH (St. Peter,) stands pleasantly in the highest part of the town, and is a large stone fabric, in the decorated style, with a square tower and six bells.

It has a lofty nave and side aisles, separated by elegant light clustered pillars, supporting pointed arches. It is neatly pewed, and has a good organ, purchased by subscription, in 1819.

It had formerly two endowed chantries and twelve obits, and on the walls are several neat monuments. One of tbe latter is in memory of the Hon. Robert Townsend, who served in the seven campaigns of the Duke of Marlborough.

The living is a vicarage, valued in K.B. at £11.3s.4d., and in 1831 at £230, and now enjoyed by the Rev. W.J. Dampier, M.A., who has a good residence, and 16 acres of glebe. Capt. Charles Du Cane is the patron, and the great tithes belong to him and several other impropriators, among whom are T.B. Western, Esq., and C.J. Skingley, now a minor. The tithes are about to be commuted, and they belonged to the abbey till 1223, when the Bishop of London appointed a vicar, and obliged the monks to give up for his maintenance part of the small tithes, and 20A. of glebe.

The inhabitants of Little Coggeshall dispute their liability to pay vicarial tithes, or to contribute towards the reparation of the church, though they have been accommodated here with sittings, etc., since their own two churches went to decay, viz., the Abbey Church and St. Nicholas's, the latter of which was built by the parishioners. Tradition says, the bells of the abbey church were sent to Kelvedon.

The Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, and the Society of Friends, have Chapels in the town; and here is a National and also a British School, the former built about 1840, and having dwelling for the master and mistress, and separate rooms for boys, girls, and infants.

Here are various Charities for the poor, and an endowed Free School.

The Coggeshall Literaryand Mechanics Institute was established in 1847, under the presidency of W.P. Honeywood, Esq., and it already numbers about 130 members. Its lecture and reading rooms are in Church street.

The Coggeshall and United Parishes Agricultural Society holds its meetings here, and is liberally supported by the gentlemen and farmers of the town and neighbourhood.

print published 1834

Back to History of Great Coggeshall (Coggeshall)

my ancestors logo

My Ancestors.

Are your ancestors from Great Coggeshall? Why not tell us their story: My Great Coggeshall Ancestors.

Find your Ancestors in the Newspapers

Essex Standard Newspaper

Newspaper archives are now a very important source of information for researching your family tree.

Try our example search to help you discover if your ancestors are in the British Newspaper Archive.

Help me find my ancestors

Great Coggeshall - Cary's New and Correct English Atlas, 1798

Great Coggeshall - First Series Ordnance Survey Map 1805

This work is based on data provided through www.VisionofBritain.org.uk and uses historical material which is copyright of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth. Licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence BY-SA-4.0

Looking for an unusual Christmas Present?

Why not buy a DNA kit for a family member?

Let them discover the story of their ancestors.

The kit is delivered to their door. Now discounted to £63 on Ancestry

Learn more at Ancestry DNA.

Looking for pictures to add to your family tree album?


Ebay is a good source of old images of Essex towns and villages. If you're looking for pictures to add to your family tree album, then try one of the auctions, or there are several 'Buy It Now' shops offering postcards which have been touched up and improved - so if you're unsure about bidding, try these. Link already formatted for Essex Postcards. Browse through or type the name of the location in the Ebay search box.