Historical Research

There are - and probably always will be - more questions than answers about Coggeshall Grange Barn.  The Cistercians were meticulous record keepers and almost certainly recorded the expenditure incurred in building and maintaining the Barn.  However, history has not been kind to whatever records were kept.  In 1381, at the height of the Peasants' Revolt, rioters invaded Coggeshall Abbey, assaulted the abbot and destroyed the archives.  The coup de grace came in 1538 with the dissolution of the abbey by King Henry VIII.

Daunting though this is, it made the project team more determined to discover whatever exists.  Volunteer researcher Michael Horne spent many months examining documents in university and other libraries, also on the Internet.  He travelled to Cistercian sites in the UK and France, piecing together fragments of information that will eventually be published as part of the project in the next National Trust Guide Book.

It became apparent that Coggeshall Abbey was only a small to medium sized foundation in Cistercian terms.  It probably never had more than 24 monks and 40 lay brothers, declining to the 6 monks who were pensioned off at the dissolution.  Throughout its history, it seems to have suffered from financial crises and there is evidence of mismanagement.  It is a far picture from the popular image of the medieval abbey with portly monks living comfortable lives, punctuated only by the daily round of services.

Michael Horne intends to continue with his research as resources permit.