ESSEX has a host of historic buildings - some dating back hundreds of years and providing a link to specific periods of time.

These include Paycocke’s House and Gardens which hark dack to the days when cloth was big business.

And it is one of few surviving examples of a Tudor merchant’s house and garden.

Found in Coggeshall, near Braintree, the building now welcomes visitors throughout the year but was for a long time a private family home.

The house was built for Thomas Paycocke, who was a wealthy cloth merchant in the town.

But it very nearly did not survive for future generations having been almost destroyed by fire in the 19th Century.

On that occasion it was rescued and restored by Lord Noel Buxton in the early 20th century, before being handed to the care of the National Trust.

The house has been described by historians as being half-timbered and specifically notable in particularly for its intricate woodwork and carvings.

Thomas Paycocke himself was a successful businessman in the later half of the 15th Century.

He has been described as an artisan, who made his money in the wool trade which was the dominant economic trade at that time.

In fact, it was the main industry for several centuries with evidence it was being manufactured in Essex as far back as Roman and Saxon times.

It was being exported in 1250 to Italy and also Flanders in Belgium where it was hugely popular.

At the beginning of the 14th Century some cloth-workers from Bruges landed at Harwich, moving later to Braintree, Halstead and Dedham and they would go on to also teach weaving to the Essex people.

Across those villages and into Bocking, Coggeshall and Colchester thousands of families were employed as spinners, weavers and combers.

The fabrics woven by the Flemings were called bays and says, later becoming known as baize and serge.

Colchester became famous for the bay and say trade.

Paycocke capitalised on all of this, creating his house from an original Medieval building owned by his father, John.

He was relatively wealthy and built the original house as a wedding present for Thomas when he married Margaret.

Their initials appear in the wood carvings which decorate Paycockes.

The house stayed in the Paycocke’s family until the last male heir died in 1584 when it was sold to the Buxton family.

In 1746, they divided it into three smaller cottages and sold it off with the housess later falling into disrepair.

In 1906 the house was sold to Lord Noel Buxton, a descendant of the Buxton family who then oversaw the restoration of the house, and restored a number of carvings.

It is now in the care of the National Trust which carried out major repairs in 2011 including to the roof.