The Woolpack Inn

By its very name, the Woolpack is inextricably linked with Coggeshall's former industrial prominence as a wool town. The wool and cloth industry was made possible by the establishment of a Cistercian abbey in the town in 1140, the monks from the abbey being extensively sheep farmers. The Woolpack was built in the 15th century and although its original owner is not known, it is likely that this large and fine timber-framed building once belonged to one of Coggeshall's rich merchants. In 1665 the Rev. Thomas Lowery was ejected from the Church of England after the Reformation and purchased the property, using it as a chapel from where he ministered to non-conformists. He died in 1681 and the house passed to his son Jeremy, a London apothecary. On his death in 1708, the house was sold, and in this year became an Inn known as the Woolpack.

 
Left: In the foreground is the 'Best Kept Village' sign which Coggeshall has won several times in recent years

It is worth reflecting that the Woolpack was standing here next to the parish church of St. Peter ad-Vincula before America was discovered, and from within its rooms past patrons may have talked about Nelson's victory at Trafalgar, the conflicts at Waterloo and Balaclava, discussed the latest novels by Dickens or chatted excitedly about the latest invention. The Inn is now a Grade 1 listed building and has therefore undergone very few changes in recent years. The building still has tremendous character with its beams and low ceilings and traditional warmth supplied by the numerous open fireplaces, thus creating a wonderful atmosphere in which to enjoy a light snack, evening meal or just a drink. 

 

These pictures show how the inn looked in the early part of the twentieth century with a lot of the stud work covered by plaster.

 

The Woolpack in 1906

 

This view is from the 1920s

 
The picture on the right shows how it looked when the studs had been exposed. The weather-boarded side of the inn can be clearly seen on the left of the picture.

In 1887 there was another cottage, just like the one at the far end of the row, which stood right next to the church wall. It was in such a poor state that a local blacksmith and champion of the working man, Henry "Dick" Nunn, pulled it down declaring that it was "an eyesore and an insult to the beautiful church". This action landed him in court but was much applauded by most of the population. Read his story  in 'Local Heroes'.

 

The row of cottages was demolished in the late 1930s to make way for the car park

 

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