Complete View of the Manners, Customs, Arms, Habits & Co of the Inhabitants of England, 1774, by Joseph Strutt.
“At the bottom of the first plate of the Danish AEra, Plate 26, (where it was put for want of room) is a view of the abbey chapel at Coggeshall, in Essex, which was built by king Stephen, A.D. 1141, (1) in the 7th year of his reign. This has a pointed arch, and was in its first state far from being an inelegant building, though very plain and void of ornament, which was afterwards crowded in such superfluous excesses on the buildings of gothic structure. The wall is composed of unhewn flints, pieces of brick and tile sheards, over which the cement was neatly plaistered both withinside and without, and seems in all respects to have answered the purpose of stone facing. The four corners (on the outside of the building) were ornamented with bricks, many of which are evidently Roman. All the arches of the windows and the two supports down the middle of the large window, are composed of bricks, having the ornament necessary for the purpose handsomely cut upon them. This ruin is at present full as perfect as the drawing, but it is much to be feared that it will no longer remain so, for being now turned into a barn, it will most likely soon be demolished. Near this place without doubt must have been a Roman camp or station, as well from the vast number of Roman bricks that are to be seen, as from the accounts of historians (2) concerning such antiquities as have been found near this place. It has been by some supposed to be the ad ansam of the antient Romans, but this is entirely left to the judgment of the curious.”
References: (1) Speed’s Chron. (2) See Camden in Essex, & Weaver’s Funeral Monuments page 168, & page 63 of this work.
In ‘The Remains of Coggeshall Abbey’, published in the Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, n.s. Volume 15 (1918), G F Beaumont quotes Strutt in relation to the St Nicholas Chapel adding, “The sketch shows the building without any roof, and the view is, apparently, of the north side as no doorway or barn entry is shown. It is not a very accurate drawing. Good illustrations of this interesting building, as adapted for farm purposes, will be found in Excursions in Essex (AD 1818), vol I, p42, and in Wright’s History of Essex, vol I, p367, the latter being dated 1833.”
Strutt’s engraving appears to have been an afterthought, an insertion into a peculiar plate having no sense of order. He feared that the building might be lost, but in the event became an unusual Essex barn. It stands today at what is the half way mark of the 81-mile Essex Way.