Market Hill

Coggeshall is an ancient place with a Market Charter dating from 1256. At one time a small chapel stood in the centre of Market Hill, but by 1550 it had been altered and was being used as a Corn Market House, probably with an open ground floor and rooms above. By 1614 the guild of fullers and weavers was using the building as a meeting house and had installed a bell and clock " for the better ordering of the apprentices"! The Market House eventually fell into ruin and by 1795 the building had been demolished. The man responsible for the demolition was Henry Emery, of whom more will be told later. It was decided that the bell and clock should be placed on another building belonging to the parish. Facing the Market House stood Cranes House, (the building to which the present clock tower is attached), the profit from the rent of which was left to "the poor of Coggeshall" in the will of Samuel Crane in 1669.

Market Day in Coggeshall

 In 1787 the house was let to Pembroke College, Cambridge, who as trustees of the estate of Sir Robert Hitcham (died 1636) paid for a school room to be set out on the upper floor. The schoolmaster was Henry Emery, the demolisher of the market house, and it was decided to place the bell and clock in a turret attached to the schoolhouse. The school remained there until 1859 when it moved into new premises almost opposite Paycockes in West Street where it remained until just before world War One. This school building now houses a veterinary surgery and a laundry.

The final part of the story comes with the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. It had been decided to build a brick Clock Tower in the middle of the Market Hill, but the money raised fell short of the sum required, so it was decided to heighten the old tower and install a new clock. The clock was made by the Midland Clock Company, now owned by Smiths of Derby, who still service and repair the clock. The rest of the building houses a teashop - an ideal spot for morning coffee, a light lunch or afternoon tea.

The Market Hill has always been at the heart of the town - it has seen celebrations of great joy like the ending of two World Wars and times of sorrow as Coggeshall's young men marched off to Flanders. Journeys have often started from here, political meetings have been held on its corners and it has always been central to Coggeshall's Carnival.
Surely the biggest flag in the whole of Braintree  district as Coggeshall celebrated the Queen's Golden Jubilee!


Times Past on Market Hill

Many more historic pictures are on show in Coggeshall's museum

The Fire Brigade's horse-drawn engine leads the procession as Coggeshall celebrates King George V's Coronation in 1911. The procession included  several bands, over 700 children and many organizations, clubs and societies.

The annual Sunday school outing in 1905. The children are on their way to Kelvedon railway station in carts belonging to Mr Parrish, a local farmer. They would probably be going to Walton or Dovercourt on the coast.

Empire Day in 1908. At noon all the children gathered on  Market Hill to listen to the vicar explain the origin and significance of Empire Day.

The 'meet' of the local hunt in the early 1920s. The children of the village would turn out to see the hounds and horses.

This picture is taken from a postcard in the days long before the National Health Service. It shows various organizations getting together to raise money to support the local hospital.

February 1915 - a final band concert before the men who had been billeted in Coggeshall go off to fight in France. They were mainly from the Warwickshire Regiment and some returned to marry local girls.

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