Harry Potter Night In Rayleigh !

From the District Council website:

Harry Potter Book Night at Rayleigh Library
Date: Thursday, February 2, 2017 – 17:00 to 19:00

Get in the magical spirit of Harry Potter at Rayleigh Library on Thursday 2nd February, 5-7pm.

Why not come dressed as your favourite character? Join in some wizardly fun with stories, games, activities and quizzes. The event is free but booking essential.

Contact Rayleigh Library on 01268 775830

Old Blogs, New Blogs

Starting a blog is pretty easy. Keeping it going on a long term basis is harder. We had a ‘blip’ last year but as you can see we are back now.

If you look at the ten Essex political blogs in our sidebar, one was updated today (well done Julian Ware-Lane) , another one was updated this week (keep it the good work James Newport) and two others were upated last week. The other six haven’t been updated for months… it really can be difficult to keep blogging.

So it’s good to see another local blog – which so far seems to be about local history. It’s called JPS Rose, written by Jason Rose and you can find his first article of 2017 here, about Hadleigh Castle.

Hello Woodham – And, Er , Purleigh.

The District Council Website has a page here on the current review of parliamentary constituencies. There is a public consultation running until December 5th.

You can find the detailed proposals for our local constituencies here.

The main proposed changes for South East Essex are:

  • The three Wickford wards move from “Rayleigh and Wickford” constituency to “Basildon and Billericay”.
  • Two council wards in Pitsea will move into Castle Point.
  • Two Castle Point wards  (St James and Victoria) will move into Southend West
  • One ward -Ashingdon and Canewdon – will move from the old Rayleigh and Wickford Ward into Rochford and Southend West.
  • “Rayleigh and Wickford” constituency is losing Wickford but will have Bicknacre, Rettendon Runwell, two of the Hanningfields plus South Woodham. So it will be renamed “Rayleigh and  Woodham Ferrers “.
  • According to the proposals, “Rayleigh and Woodham Ferrers” will also gain one ward from Maldon – namely Purleigh.  We have to say this is a bit of a surprise, Woodham Ferrers has been part of a Rayleigh constituency before but a bit of Maldon hasn’t been part of the same constituency as Rayleigh since 1832.
  • These boundary changes are happening because the government is deliberating reducing the numbers of MPs in the UK, which doesn’t sound particularly democratic.  It seems a bad omen that the last time that a MP represented both Rayleigh and a part of Maldon, in 1832, he was the ludicrously named William Pole-Tylney-Long Wellesley ( yes he had a quadruple- barrelled name) and is  described by Wikipedia as “an Anglo-Irish Nobleman with a notoriously dissipated lifestyle”. This fellow has a good claim to be the worst Tory MP of all time. (Just read the Wikipedia article)
  • We also wonder whether Purleigh has much in common with Rayleigh, apart from similar names.

If you aren’t happy with these proposals, have a look at the Boundary Commision Report, at the end they give enough information on the number of voters in each council ward for you to make your own proposals. but constituencies have to have between 71031 and 78507 electors – without Purleigh, Rayleigh and Woodham Ferrers will fall short.


Cheapside, About 1930.

Rayleigh Through The Looking Glass’ February feature has some evocative photos of almost empty roads in Rayleigh.
The one above is of the junction of Down Hall Road and Cheapside circa the 1930s. A few points to note :

  • “Cheapside” was later divided into “Cheapside East” and “Cheapside West” when Sweyne School was built in the 1950s.
  • The rather attractive house on the right is still there – in the photo there looks like some kind of commercial sign affixed to the front wall?
  • Cheapside clearly wasn’t adopted in those days – it looks seriously muddy!
  • Postman’s bikes don’t seem to have changed much!
  • The second one is of London Road, in the early 1900s. It prompts immediate thoughts about how much more traffic and development there has been since then, and how the only new road exit from Rayleigh since then has the been the A127 Arterial Road in the 1930s. The view looks idyllic – though perhaps the boy carrying those heavy buckets would be too weary to appreciate it….

    london road 1900s

    The website also has an update on the museum:

    The Museum will open to the public on 9th April 2016. Normal opening times from then will be Wednesday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday between the hours of 10am and 4pm

    Further information available on the Rayleigh Town Museum website (www.rayleightownmuseum.co.uk), the Rayleigh Town Museum Facebook page (Facebook.com/rayleightownmuseum) and the notice board in the High Street on the wall by the Millennium Clock.

    A Political Ghost Story …

    Some people like ghost stories at Christmas …this is a true story about a former MP for our area – Major Sir Frederick Carne Rasch.

    Rasch seemed to have had a pretty good life. He went to Eton and then Trinity College Cambridge, and did a lot of rowing there (thats rowing boats , not rowing in arguments). He spent ten years in the Dragoon Guards, became a director of a couple of breweries, and then went into parliament as a Conservative, representing Essex South-East from 1886 until 1900, and then Chelmsford until 1908.

    A magazine article on 1896 described him as an Essex man and wholesome, bluff, genial fellow of strong opinions; who calls himself a Democratic Tory. The very first question he asked in the House of Commons was about cavalry saddles, and you can imagine him in one of the Commons bars having a cigar and a few whiskies with his friends and talking about horses, rowing and country pursuits.

    Rasch clearly had a social conscience, for example , speaking up several times in the House of Commons for poor farm labourers in Canewdon. But he definitely wasnt a progressive- he was very much against giving the children of agricultural workers much of an education : I know very well I am not an enthusiast, a crank, or a fanatic on the subject of education in the agricultural districts. To speak plainly, I detest it so far as I am concerned. I am here simply as an agricultural Member, principally to keep the rates down, and particularly the rates for education.

    So all in all he was a very down-to-earth chap. Not the kind of person youd connect with any kind of paranormal events. And yet…..

    It was the spring of 1905. The MP Sir Gilbert Parker described what happened as follows:

    “I wished to take part in the debate in progress, but missed being called. As I swung round to resume my seat I was attracted first by seeing Sir Carne Rasch out of his place, and then by the position he occupied. I knew that he had been very ill, and in a cheery way nodded towards him and said, `Hope you are better.’
    “But he made no sign and uttered no reply. This struck me as odd. My friend’s position was his and yet not his. His face was remarkably pallid. His expression was steely. It was a altogether a stony presentment — grim, almost resentful.
    “I thought for a moment. Then I turned again toward Sir Carne Rasch, and he had disappeared. That puzzled me, and I at once went in search of him. I expected, in fact, to overtake him in the lobby. But Rasch was not there. No one had seen him. I tried both the Whips and the doorkeeper, equally without avail. No one had seen Sir Carne Rasch.
    “I went round the House, inquiring in all the corridors and to the same end — Sir Carne Rasch had not been seen. Going again to the lobby, I heard that Sir Henry Meysey-Thompson, who was at the lobby post office, had also been inquiring for the major, but without result.
    “I joined Sir Henry, and we exchanged views.”

    Sir Gilbert was interested in psychic phenomena and wondered if Rasch had died and appeared as a ghost! Rasch was actually at home, ill with influenza, but he was neither dead nor dying. He seemed have been amused by the whole affair and couldnt resist having a friendly dig at the Liberals:

    “I was rather ill at the time, and had to keep my bed, and why I should have gone to the House of Commons that night I don’t know. However, the Express of Friday says that I did. I am worth a good many dead ones yet, I hope. At any rate, I mean to go on a little longer.
    “I feel, however, that I ought to apologize to the Liberal Party for not having died when I suppose I ought. Had I done so it would have saved them a good deal of trouble. If I have another chance perhaps I will endeavor to oblige them.”

    Rather unexpectedly, there was a response from the Liberals that confirmed this ghostly sighting. A letter from Colonel Sir Arthur Hayter, published in the Daily News said:

    “Sir, On my way home to Southhill Park today I noticed in The Daily News that Sir Carne Rasch had been seen in the House of Commons by Sir Gilbert Parker when he was reported to be lying ill at home, and that further evidence in confirmation was required.
    “I beg to say that I not only saw Sir Carne Rasch myself sitting below the gangway (not in his usual seat), but that I called the attention of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman to whom I was talking on the Front Opposition Bench, saying that I wondered why all the papers inserted notices of Sir Carne Rasch’s illness, while he was sitting opposite apparently quite well. Sir Henry replied that he hoped his illness was not catching. — Yours, etc.

    Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman became Prime Minister the next year, so should certainly trusted as a witness….

    The full story can be found here. We originally posted this story in 2009.

    The Rayleigh Survivors

    If you go to the Rochford District Community Archive here, you will find the full-size version of photo of 113 Rayleigh men who survived World War 1, together with their names and details about some of them:


    One person written about is Ernest Long – who enlisted at the age of 47! :

    Ernest Edward Long born 1871 in Bow. Married 1890 to Jeanette Cohen & 2nd time to Charlotte Bartlett in 1918. 1911 living Viola Villa, Lancaster Rd as Accountants clerk. 3 children attended Rayleigh (Love Lane) School.

    He enlisted age 47 in 1918 to Essex Regt. & served in France. He has 2 more children by then. Two of sons Ernest William born 1893 & Harold Bernard born 1896 also served but not in photo.

    In 1933 & 1938 living Millfield 84 Eastwood Rd.

    Died 1946 age 74.