Man Made Wonders in the Heart of Essex


26th September 2017


Our coach left the Dolphin Hotel, St Ives, at 9.00am and we arrived at the 14th century Swan Inn in the village of Chappel just in time for morning coffee.  The river Colne runs through the pub garden from which our first man made wonder of the day was immediately apparent behind the pub. We had plenty of time to chat and examine the Chappel railway viaduct which has 32 arches, is 75 feet high and 175 years old.  It was then on to enjoy a superb carvery lunch and coffee (interesting ales were also available - look for the Nelson’s Blood picture!) at the Bosworth’s Tea Room in Finchingfield. After lunch we explored this village which is often described as one of England’s prettiest with a village green, duck pond and windmill. In the afternoon, we visited Cressing with its two massive 'cathedrals of wood', barns that are over 800 years old. They were established for storing wheat and barley from the Knights Templar’s farm estate before being transported to London to be sold to help finance the Holy Wars in the mid 1200s. At the same site, we also enjoyed visiting the Tudor walled gardens of a manor house now long gone before enjoying tea and cakes in the Tiptree Tearoom and gift shop on site. A very enjoyable and informative day with a super City and Village Tours Guide and with what members described as having the best lunch yet, ended by us arriving back in St Ives at dusk. Clive Sprawson did a great job in organising this year’s trip and even emulating our previous and long standing visit secretary, Peter Frazier, by getting the met office to give us a good weather day! 

(Click on [Enlargeunder an image to open it in a new window) 



The 14th century Swan Inn at Chappel  [Enlarge]



An old description of the Swan



Bar and coffee lounge  [Enlarge]



Chappel Viaduct – chatting in the pub garden  [Enlarge]



Chappel viaduct crosses the Stour Valley, built ca1847  [Enlarge]



Probus members dwarfed by a few of the 32, 75 ft high arches  [Enlarge]



Hopefully not delivering our lunches!



Earls Colne village hardware shop – is it Arkwright’s?



Bosworth’s Tea Room in Finchingfield  [Enlarge]



Appetising carvery  [Enlarge]



Nelson’s Blood celebrating Trafalgar Day



And the 'story' of Nelson’s Blood ale



Finchingfield Green  [Enlarge]



Panoramic view of the village  [Enlarge]



Our guide, Jan, introducing us to the 800 year old Cressing Temple Barns, 15 minutes from Braintree, restored by Essex County Council in 1987  [Enlarge]



The Barley Barn 36 m (120 ft) long by 14 m (46 ft) wide  [Enlarge]



The Wheat Barn 40 m (130 ft) long by 16 m (53 ft) wide  [Enlarge]



Looking up to the height of 11 m (36 ft)  [Enlarge]



So, be careful!



Between 1205 and 1280, about 500 oak trees were specially grown to the required size and shape for each barn  [Enlarge]



Precarious manual labour! Only wooden pegs used  [Enlarge]



Originally used for grain storage, the barns are now used as venues for concerts, theatre productions (tiered seating for 400), conferences and weddings  [Enlarge]



The Tiptree Tea Room which helps to provide financial support to the County Council’s tourism aims  [Enlarge]



Members enjoying Tiptree teas and views of the gardens before our journey home  [Enlarge]