Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Fasciating Walk Around Rayleigh

Rochford District Council asked me some time ago if I would lead a Guided Walk around Rayleigh for them, and of course I was happy to oblige.

The walk was to raise money for the Chairman’s chosen charity, the P.D.S.A.

A few years ago I had led a similar walk for the Council around the old market town of Rochford, which had gone down very well, so it was nice to be asked again.

Rochford is the little town in Essex where I was born, and the District includes the larger town of Rayleigh, as well as other quite famous places such as Hockley, Ashingdon, where Cnut defeated Edmund Ironside in 1016, Great Wakering, Paglesham and the witch village of Canewdon.

So on a Sunday afternoon in March I presented myself at the Council Chamber at Rayleigh and led a happy group of people from around the area on a walk around the town, pointing out places of interest.

We discussed the Peculiar People, the Christian sect who were founded in Rochford. Some of their chapels survive, including one at Rayleigh. We looked at the Martyrs Memorial in the impressive High Street, remembering local Protestants burned during Queen Mary’s reign – I was able to mention some of them when leading my Smithfield and Clerkenwell walk in London.

We looked at the impressive Holy Trinity Church, which dominates the High Street in a benevolent sort of way – Richard II gave permission for it to be repaired. We discussed some of the buildings around the High Street, with their examples of local building traditions - weatherboarding and yellow brick.

Then down Crown Hill we saw the Dutch Cottage, similar to two on Canvey Island. And of course I took the party to Rayleigh Mount, the extensive earthworks of Rayleigh Castle, built during the Norman period by the English landowner Sweyn. I was a little surprised that several of the party had never visited Rayleigh Mount before.

Just before finishing, we had a look at the excellently preserved Rayleigh Mill.

I really enjoyed leading this walk, and judging from the comments of those who took part, everybody else enjoyed it too.

Of course, I always have to explain why a man from Leicester should be showing people around Essex. I was born in Rochford, and lived throughout my childhood and early adulthood in the Southend area.

I lead Guided Walks around several places in Essex. Obviously these include Rochford and Rayleigh, but also Old Southend, Old Leigh, Prittlewell, Hadleigh and Maldon.

If you’d like to partake, I have a walk around Maldon on Saturday 9th September and Rochford on Sunday 10th September.

Feel free to book as soon as you like!