Barn belonged to Coggeshall Abbey, whose remains form part of a
private house at the end of Abbey Lane, across Grange Hill and
approximately ¼ mile (400 metres) from the barn. The abbey was
founded in 1140 by King Stephen and Queen Matilda as a daughter house
of the Savigniac Order, absorbed by the Cistercian Order in
1147. The abbey functioned until it was dissolved by King Henry
VIII in 1538.
is not known exactly when the Barn was built but, according to the
sixth abbot Ralph, the High Altar of the abbey was dedicated in
1167. It was the Cistercians' practice to build their
settlements on a sound financial basis, so it is possible that a barn
on this site pre-dates the building of the abbey.
of the oak arcade posts by Carbon-14 dating in 1976 gave a date of
1130 ± 90 years. However, dendrochronological (tree-ring)
analysis carried out in 1994 suggested a date of construction in the
structure of the Barn was significantly altered in the 14th
Century and the form it is seen in today is largely as it was then.
Barn continued in agricultural use until 1960 when its new owner
deemed it unsuitable for contemporary farming practices. His
neglect and wanton destructiveness led to the Barn becoming
derelict. By the late 1970s, it was in a ruinous state and on
the brink of being demolished.
concern at the potential loss of such an important vernacular building
led to the formation of the Grange Barn Trust and compulsory purchase
of the Barn by Braintree District Council in 1982. Temporary
repairs were made and the full repair and reconstruction scheme began
the following year.
restoration of the Barn took almost 2 years and was completed in
1985. As many of the original timbers as possible were re-used,
some being patched and braced. However, there had been
considerable timber loss and where new material had to be used it is
Barn was transferred to the care of the National Trust in 1989,
securing its future in perpetuity.
Barn contains a threshing machine, a collection of carts and other
farm implements. It also houses a temporary exhibition of the Saunders
Tools Collection. Work is in progress to construct a
permanent exhibition in a converted byre. This is scheduled to
open for the 2011 season.