Tree dating scientists re-date historic Tudor house in Essex

By Ben Miller | 16 August 2010
a photo of a picturesque old house and garden

Revellers at an historic Essex house are finally holding a birthday party after being made to wait five years by scientists who used tree ringing to postpone their celebrations.

Organisers at Paycocke’s House (above) in Coggeshall, near Colchester, held a premature 500th birthday bash for the Medieval house in 2005, but they will finally get to celebrate the real thing this Bank Holiday weekend (August 28-30 2010).

“We had some paper records that told us Paycocke’s would turn 500 in 2005 so we had a good old celebration back then,” explains House Custodian Natalie Simpson.

“But when a few years later the house was dendrochronology dated it became clear that our records for the main part of the building were wrong – we were five years too early with the party.”

Originally built in 1420 and named after the family who owned it, the House was donated to the National Trust in 1924.

Dendrochronology dating uses a scientific method to analyse the patterns of circles made by trees. With their investigations complete, the team at the House have been given the go-ahead to embark on a weekend of Tudor dance displays and demonstrations of weaving, spinning and fabric dying.

“There will be plenty to do,” promises Simpson. “People can try writing with a quill, find out what it was like to live here, have a good explore and join in with the dancing.

“We can now scientifically and categorically say that 2010 definitely marks 500 years since the Paycocke family built this house. That in itself is another great reason to celebrate.”

Bank Holiday event runs 11am – 5pm, Tudor dancing 12pm – 4pm on Saturday. Admission £3.40/£1.70

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