Everything you need to know about the quaint market town of Coggeshall

Market Square Coggheshall

Market Square - Credit: Archant

Sybilla Hart takes us on a tour around historic Coggeshall and finds out why we should add it to our must-visit list 

Coggeshall history

It's not hard to see why Coggeshall, situated between Braintree and Colchester, has won a host of awards including Village of the Year. Steeped in history and with an abundance of listed buildings (nearly 300 of them), Coggeshall is one of Essex's most quintessential locations. Wonky houses, historic buildings and the River Blackwater winding through it in a picturesque fashion – Coggeshall has got it all. The ancient ‘wool church,’ St Peter ad Vincula, and the two National Trust properties, Grange Barn (a large restored barn) and Paycocke’s House (a merchant’s house dating to the 16th century) are well worth a visit. There has been a market in Coggeshall since the 13th century, when King Henry III granted the charter and, like Long Melford in Suffolk, Coggeshall was an antiques hub until quite recently.   

Blue wooden town clock

Coggeshall's landmark clock tower - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Things to do in Coggeshall

People come from far and wide to visit Coggeshall’s historic sites. St Peter ad Vincula church is an extremely large perpendicular building boasting one of the tallest towers in the East of England. On this basis, it was in the running to be a Cathedral, but Chelmsford was selected instead. Built on an earlier Norman church, the current church was built with money from the prosperous wool trade in the early 15th century. It was heavily restored in the 19th century, only to be bombed by the Luftwaffe in the Second World War. The roof of the nave collapsed and the church needed significant restoration once more. On the occasion of the millennium, St Peter ad Vincula was given two additional bells, taking it up to 10 and giving the church the fifth loudest peal in all of Essex.  

St Peters Church Coggeshall

St Peter's Church - Credit: Love Coggeshall

Grade I listed Grange Barn (now in the stewardship of the National Trust) was built in the 13th century by the Cistercians to serve Coggeshall Abbey. Remarkably, though the abbey was dissolved in 1530 by King Henry VIII, the barn remained in constant agricultural use until 1960 when it was deemed derelict. Braintree Council purchased it in 1982 and duly restored it, winning a restoration Europa Nostra award in the process. Soon afterwards, Grange Barn was handed to the National Trust, with the intention of presenting the barn as it was in the 14th century – save for the fact that the roof is tiled and not thatched as it was formerly.   

The Grade I listed Grange Barn

The Grade I listed Grange Barn - Credit: TazzyBro Photography

Where to eat in Coggeshall

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For a relatively small town, Coggeshall has its fair share of places to eat and drink, including a vineyard, a cafe, Bakealicious tea room, a wittily named fish and chip shop called Coddeshall and three pubs. The White Hart offers food and rooms, The Woolpack boasts plenty of original features while The Chapel Inn, situated on Market Hill, has been in operation since the 16th century. Its food has very good reviews and it is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Woolpack Inn pub Coggeshall

The Woolpack Inn - Credit: TazzyBro Photography

Over the road at Ranfield’s Brasserie on Stoneham Street, you are invited to ‘excite your taste buds’. With the likes of seared ribeye steak served with marmite whipped butter, steamed sticky toffee banana sponge, warm mini jam doughnuts or apple, orange and rhubarb crumble with honey ice cream, it is easy to see why. Coggeshall Spice, an Indian restaurant located on Market Hill, comes highly recommended and boasts the highest hygiene rating. It opens at 5.30pm and offers dine-in, takeaway and delivery.   

Shops in Coggeshall

Market Square Coggheshall

Market Square - Credit: Archant

In terms of retail therapy, Bee’s Boutique is a ladies clothing shop situated on Church Street. Its vast range of clothing include casual and more formal items with comfort always being the priority. If you are looking for a gift, look no further than Smitten Too on Church Street, where you will find everything from dinner party-ready crystalware to a range of unique ornaments. J’adore Bridal Wear, located at Market End, caters for sizes 4-22 with a wide range of bridal styles from romantic to bohemian. For groceries, there’s a traditional greengrocers and butchers offering fine local foods. 

Local illustrator Olivia Wilson designed this beautiful print of Coggeshall's landmarks

Local illustrator Olivia Wilson designed this beautiful print of Coggeshall's landmarks - Credit: Olivia Wilson


Accommodation in Coggeshall

Should you find yourself looking for accommodation, consider Airbnb, which offers The Cottage in Coggeshall. As the location is so close to the River Blackwater you are provided with a kayak (naturally) and there is even a hot tub in the garden. The Bakehouse, a spotless converted white clapboard cottage is also located in Coggeshall and available to book via AirBnB. If you want to stay in the countryside, the 15th-century part-moated manor house Prested Hall Hotel is an excellent option and located close by in Feering.  

Property for sale in Coggeshall

Fallen for Coggeshall? Here are our top property picks.  

Wisteria House is a four-bedroom Georgian detached property located on Queen Street. This charming house is Grade II listed and has a lovely garden with mature trees as well as off-road parking and a garage. Guide price £1.1 million, marketed with Heritage Estate Agents. 

19 Stoneham Street Coggeshall

19 Stoneham Street - Credit: William H Brown

Also in central Coggeshall is a characterful four-bedroom house on Stoneham Street, dating back to the 15th century. With an abundance of beams, this rambling cottage has a garage and a courtyard garden. Offers in excess of £635,000, marketed by William H Brown. 

The Lodge, Breadmore Webb

The Lodge - Credit: Breadmore Webb

Located just outside Coggeshall on Marks Hall Road, The Lodge was the original lodge at the entrance of Markshall Estate. A local landmark, this pretty pink Tudor house with its ornate timber casement windows comes with a quarter of an acre of outside space. Offers over £800,000, marketed by Breadmore Webb.