Cogan House (now Zizzi's restaurant) - 53 photos

13th century building, formerly a Hospital for the poor, with wonderful woodcarvings

Background | More detailed early history | Woodcarvings 1 | Woodcarvings 2 | Upstairs | Other features


Notes: Cogan House has a Victorian front but dates back to 1203 or earlier, and is one of the most distinguished buildings in Canterbury - and even in England. It is claimed that one of its walls is the earliest of its type in England, being partly of chalk.


Brief history
Some relevant dates are given as follows:

Late 12th century: Luke the Moneyer starts building on the site
1203: Comes into the hands of William Cokyn, who granted it to a hospital.
1230: United with Eastbridge Hospital nearby
13th - 15th centuries: home of many Bailiffs and Mayors of Canterbury
1473: home of John Bygg, mercer and Mayor, who owned the King's Mill across the bridge from the famous Weavers' house (mill long ago demolished, though you can still see its stone base, and you can also see an old print with the mill in it.) John Bygg built the aisled hall on the south side - (see photos of its oak ceiling on later pages)
c. 1529: rear of the aisled hall demolished by John Thomas [sic], whose portrait can be seen in the frieze (photos on next pages)
1568-1611: dates of Ralph Bawden who added the plaster ceilings, carved panelling, and jettied front supported by carved brackets (later placed in entrance hall) (see Mayttingly)
Late 1600s: John Cogan lived here and had himself painted - Mayttingly says the portrait is still in the Mayor's parlour, but I must have missed it! He was a descendant of the first owner four centuries before. He left the building, along with lands in Littlebourne, for the foundation of a hospital called Cogan House, and this time it had more success.
1600s - 1870: Home of six widows of clergymen. During this time the Georgian mathematical tiles were added.
1870: Thomas Wells, a tailor, buys the building and alters it extensively. He saws off the jettied overhang and placed large glass windows at street level (see the photograph). (Continued below)

He transferred panelling upstairs, and moved the pelican and griffin (photos below) from outside the building into the entrance hall (now they are in the back room by the stairs).

He left some of the wonderful plasterwork in the front room - see photos below:

Above and left - the plaster ceiling in the front room. Dated to the late 16th century.

.Below you can see the West wall, which is supposedly from the 12th century, and partly made of chalk and stone - a very unusual feature, they say! Apparently the wall is 2 feet 3 inches thick, according to the Council documents.
Also you can see the wonderful door leading from the front room to the central room with the staircase.


Copyright Stephen Bax 1999, 2000, 2001. Click here for terms of use.