November 7 – Rayleigh

Castle Mound and Windmill

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Today was our last full day in Rayleigh so we thought we better actually visit Rayleigh. We parked behind Marks & Spencer’s supermarket and walked into town. There was a market in the main street but it was only a small market. We walked around a few shops and then headed up to Holy Trinity church. There was a fantastic stream of knitted and crotched poppies going right from the roof to the ground beside the door. Every day for the last few weeks we have seen the black silhouettes of soldiers outside each church we have visited and all were decorated differently. Some have the list of the men of the village lost during World War I and others are painted, others have poppies surrounding them. Inside the church were other displays of war poetry, stories, flowers and paintings done by local school children. It was all very moving as are all the church displays that we have seen.

Holy Trinity church is situated at the top of the High street and is the chief centre for Anglican worship in the town, including civic services. A church existed on the site of Holy Trinity in Saxon times and the present building includes a Norman chancel. The tower dates from the 15th Century and used stones taken from the nearby castle, on Rayleigh Mount, after it fell into disuse. The church is entered through an impressive brickwork porch dating from Tudor times. It is a Grade II Listed building.

On the way back down the road, we thought we should also look for Rayleigh Castle Mound. We managed to walk right past it as it was on a side street. We parked nearby and walked down the hill into the free National Trust property. We followed the pathways around the mound walking higher and higher until we reached the top. Rayleigh Castle was a masonry and timber castle built in the 11th century shortly after the Norman conquest. All that exists today are the earthwork remains of its large motte-and-bailey. Finally, from the top of the mound, we could see Rayleigh’s windmill so when we returned to the car park we went to see the 67-foot high smock mill that was erected in 1907 even though the windmill was closed. Located beside the windmill was the Mill Town Hall where there were ballroom dancing lessons taking place. There was a rather impressive mosaic on the wall.

By now it had started to rain quite hard so we returned to the house to sort out our belongings to ready ourselves for our departure soon. I spent the afternoon washing jerseys, always my favourite job.