Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Kings Hill (Rochford)

Kings Hill is an attractive old house in the historic Essex market town of Rochford.

Situated in East Street, the house is the scene of the intriguing Whispering Court.

Sometimes known as the Lawless Court, it began at an unkown time long ago, but there is documentary evidence that it was being held during the reign of Henry III in the 13th century.

The Lord of the Manor, usually away on other business, arrived home unexpectedly one night and went straight to bed. He was woken, however, at midnight, to hear a group of his tenants whispering, and planning to murder him.

He confronted the plotters, reprimanded them, and commanded them to assemble annually on the Wednesday after Michaelmas to pay their annual dues in a whisper.

The original Kings Hill, where the annual penance took place, was a few miles away at Rayleigh, near the old Rayleigh Weir speedway stadium. It was moved to its new site in the 16th century.

From the 18th century, the proceedings lost their menacing nature and became more of a convivial occasion, with feasting taking place at the Kings Head in the Market Square.

Unfortunately, by 1892, it became something of a riotous booze-up, and was therefore suppressed.

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