The return of the camera justified a day out in my twisted and perverted mind. Luckily the weather decided to agree and off I jolly well went to the nearby village of Coggeshall. This hamlet contains around 4000 souls and 300 listed buildings. Built around the old Roman road called Stane Street running from Camoludunum to the west and with the River Blackwater passing through. Many of the houses and of course the pubs date back hundreds of years, the Chapel Inn operating legally since 1554 and illegally probably long before that. The building once housed the Sheriff of Essex and Herts who was somewhat upset to be attacked by rioting hordes during the Peasants Revolt of 1381. Henry III, about whom no-one wrote a play, granted a market over 800 years ago and once a week the
tatty stalls appear still.
The Ford over the river is probably the reason for the settlement, possibly from the Roman times, coins from early on have been found, and it may well go back into Stone Age days also. The people I met may well do so. Smiles were rare but that could be the village attitude or just the way I snarled at all who came close. Few of the older houses are brick or stone in spite of brick being made here in early medieval times, the majority are built from timber frames and plaster walls, quite normal for this area and many several hundred years old.
There are only two or three main streets, one of which is Stane Street, and a few side roads also containing some interesting buildings. Note how a hundred years of development closes little shops and turns them into expensive homes. Funnily enough industry was popular here in the past, wool, silk and later Tambour lace were major employers and of beer was brewed! Little remains and the sight of derelict industrial buildings dating back possibly to 19th century times, maybe later, is quite surprising. They appear somewhat out of place in this expensive middle class village. The narrowness of the streets cause congestion, one or two legally parked cars against a number 70 bus and the buildings shake. I noticed last time I passed through the rusting iron base of a sign that once protruded from the first floor, right in line with the doubledecker!
The 'Old Black Boy' Bistro is up for sale for a mere £300,000 and reveals the narrowness of the road and openness of the minds here. No PC busybody telling you to change the name, no customers either or it would still be open and not up for sale I suggest. How successful such an establishment may be I could not say, Colchester and all its wild delights is a mere 20 minutes away by BMW, and folks here would know all the local eateries. Next door used to be antique shops but I notice these are less noticeable now than before. So many
chancers antique dealers operated in this area that a BBC programme, 'Lovejoy,' a right load of cobblers, centred on a woman magnet (under lots of make up) was filmed here.
St Peter ad Vincula, the parish church fists installed a vicar in 1296 according to their notes. Like so many of these buildings it does of course go back further into Saxon times and this large edifice most likely stands where a smaller wooden Saxon one one stood at the edge of the village. It stands on the edge of the old village but did the village move from the church as sometimes happen or was the church erected deliberately outside of the dwellings I wonder? This would make folks parade to the church and also allowed the ecclesiastical hierarchy to remain aloof from the plebs. Actually I have just realised an Abbey stood near the ford so that is why they are a distance apart. The Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII and the bits moved into other uses. This is a pleasant light building, lightened by a dirty big hole the Luftwaffe made in the wall during 1940. The rebuilding allowed for light and glass panes instead of darkening stained glass. The angel carved in the 19th century must be the treasurer, he has got the lute.
Some glass remains stained but is difficult to photograph correctly in the circumstances. I was delighted with the quietness here today in spite of one or two working to dress up the building for the weekend. The only fault was my ability to wander around looking up while not noticing the step beneath my feet. Dumbo!
The graveyard went back a long way as did many of the tombstones. I cannot resist walking around such places, they are dead quiet, and this one like many others has a wildlife area with several irritated birds informing me my presence was not required! I moved on.
The war memorial is rumoured to stand where a Zeppelin dropped a bomb during the Great War. Standing at the edge of what is now a slice of parkland it shows the bombaimer was not much good. Most Zeppelin bombs in this are missed their mark, the minority caused death and destruction. Raids on larger towns and cities were more productive. While researching the war we read through one woman's 'One shilling diaries' of the time. There were plenty of 'Walked to town,' and 'Tea with vicar' comments but the talk of the war was less noticeable. Clearly well to do she 'did her bit' in a charitable fashion could not get the car out as lights were banned during the blackout. How the rich lived. If only we could work out which house she had.
The south facing gardener can grow figs if he is lucky! I never knew this until I spotted these a few years ago. Here they are still producing and the changes to the weather this year shows a harvest approaching. Imagine, figs growing here! I will return when ripe....
Life goes on and this hamlet has watched Romans, Saxons and revolting peasants pass through. The threat from Napoleon required the raising of a militia and soon this force stood strong, 20 officers and 3 privates were enrolled. It is not clear if they partook of any action. The Black death passed this way, as later did the aforementioned peasants, but while industry rose and fell and agriculture continued it seems to me money somehow made its way into the place. Houses range from £300,000 to over a million. Those in the centre have the traffic at their window, and this after a bypass takes the majority away, the rumble of traffic, the ability to hear the neighbours bad choice of music, and being well aware of each and everyone's life stories could be a bit wearing to me. Yet it is the middle classes who move in, house prices going up not down. An attractive well organised village but not one I would wish to live in.