Brief Outline of the Project

Discovering Coggeshall is a community project being undertaken by the Coggeshall Heritage Society (CHS) and the Essex Historic Buildings Group (EHBG). The objective is to establish accurate dates for the timber-framed buildings in the centre of the town and to be able to trace how Coggeshall developed over the centuries.
The “Your Heritage” programme of the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded a grant of over £48,000 towards the total project cost of £76,000. The remainder of the money includes contributions from the CHS, the EHBG and Coggeshall Parish Council and applications for further monies are being made from other organisations likely to support heritage studies.

The two local schools – St Peter’s C. of E. Primary and the Honywood Community Science School – have agreed to participate in the study. St Peter’s will enact a series of short dramas showing life and work in the town through the centuries and the Honywood will give practical help and support with the IT needs of the project. Both schools will be sending pupils to practical workshops which will demonstrate the way timber buildings are put together and the pupils will be able to construct models using tools and materials of the period. It is hoped that individual pupils will find the project to be a good information base for modules concerned with history, the environment, local heritage etc.

The project will employ three different methods for dating the buildings:

  • Traditional measured surveys with detailed notes on joints etc.
  • Ring-dating (dendrochronology) by the taking of core samples from timbers.
  • Translation and interpretation of written surveys (in Early English and Latin) mainly from the 16th Cent.

The information gathered by the project will include the following:

  • Detailed plans and drawings of individual buildings and their date of original construction and subsequent changes.
  • Mappings of the town showing how it developed
  • Ownership of properties and the names of people living and working in them.

The outcomes will include:

  • An illustrated book of the history of the town, its buildings and development
  • A permanent exhibition at the Coggeshall Museum – capable of being taken to other venues.
  • DVD’s and other material produced by young people for the use of young people
  • Material for teaching packs on historical, heritage and technical projects.
  • Short drama productions on life in Coggeshall over the centuries.
  • A Town Trail and detailed information boards about significant buildings

The project started on the 9th September and is due to complete in the Spring of 2012.
It is being managed by a Project Team which includes representatives from the Coggeshall Heritage Society, the Essex Historic Buildings Group, the Historic Buildings Team at Essex County Council (advisory), The Honywood Community Science School and St Peter’s C. of E. Primary School. A paid assessor has been appointed to validate the methods used and the findings of the study.