Last week, to a big public meeting on the project organised by the village Heritage society. This project aims to establish the dates of properties in the centre of Coggeshall. Our house is part of that centre. The project has some very well-qualified people giving up their time in early retirement, and has secured funds from the Lottery to employ a dendrochronologist, to date timbers. Our house has been selected.
Dating timbers is a tricky business. Elm will not date. Oak has to be of a certain girth and, preferably, with the bark attached. The timbers have to be accessible and boreable. North of the village is Monks' Wood, and it is thought that much of the timber for the village centre came from there, so there is oak rather than elm.
The large capital at the head of this upright has some moulding to it. This, we learn is Jacobean, rather than late mediaeval.
In fact, the part of our house which arouses most interest is the loft, which is unconverted, although it has ancient floor-boards. Timbers which can be dendroed were found, along with evidence of a previous large bay-window. Was the roof lifted, and original timbers reused? Or were these timbers formerly in another property? Always the question is: had this been the central section of a hall-house, with the neighbouring properties all part of the same structure?
The survey seemed to raise questions rather than answer them. However, timber in another house just along the street was dated to 1386, the earliest in the village so far. It seems odd to say this, but we were actually disappointed to discover that our roof timber dated to 1635, the summer of 1635. We were very pleased to be included in the project, nonetheless.