Church Visits & History Groups
Our Essex Church Visits Group started shortly after the formation of Rayleigh Grange in 2009. Our first visit, in torrential rain, was to St. James the Less in Hadleigh and since that time we have visited 72 medieval churches, one cathedral, one abbey and one 1960’s church. We can now recognise Kentish ragstone, pudding stone, Tudor brickwork and Roman tiles. We know what flying buttresses are and hammerbeam roofs and rood lofts. We have rung bells and played organs and seen some of the many treasures contained in these fascinating buildings, many on our doorstep. At each church we try to organise a talk and a guide who is able to tell us about the history of the building and point out the notable features.
We have visited churches in all corners of the county. During the summer months we venture further afield and perhaps manage to look at two churches but we stay closer to home in the winter.
Our visits always culminate with a pub lunch hopefully, if we can find one, in a historic and picturesque inn. We meet on the third Wednesday of each month.
Family History Groups
There are five family history groups run by Group Leaders Ann Rawlinson and Lynda Rooke who have many years of experience in family history research. Groups 1-4 meet in Ann’s home where members are able to take advantage of her extensive library of family history books and material. Consequently the groups can be of no more than seven people and regrettably there is a long waiting list for places. Lynda’s group meets at Rayleigh Library where research can be carried out on the computer terminals which give free access to both Ancestry and Find my Past. There is also a waiting list for places on Lynda’s group.
Family History has become a very popular subject fuelled by television programmes such as “Who do you think you are”. Unfortunately it is a subject, certainly in the early stages, which is now virtually controlled by the computer and the internet. It is no longer possible to research in the various London repositories which once held so much information as they no longer exist and their holdings have been transferred to on-line websites. Although family history research is now much easier for those who have a computer it can also be expensive with the building blocks of research, which are birth marriage and death certificates now costing £9.25 each and subscriptions to Ancestry and Find my Past can be very costly.
One of our members has discovered that they are related to an interesting historical character – Captain William Locker who was Nelson’s “Sea Daddy” and another has discovered previously unknown Huguenot ancestors. One member’s ancestor was a talented sculptor who may have worked on the lions in Trafalgar Square and another’s kinsman was Lieutenant Thomas Fletcher Waghorn a pioneer of the overland postal route to India and whose statue is at Chatham.
There are no vacancies in any of the family history groups at present but Ann and Lynda are always willing to offer advice on family history research to any of our members.
If you would like to be added to the waiting list of this Group or would like to start another Family History group please send an email to the Group Co-ordinator from the Contact page on this site.
Family History 1 meets on the first Monday pm.
Family History 2 meets on the first Tuesday pm.
Family History 3 meets on the second Wednesday pm.
Family History 4 meets on the fourth Wednesday pm.
Family History 5 meets on the second Wednesday 10-12 at Rayleigh library.
Group Leader / Group Page Editor Pam Green
The Local History Group is a friendly and informal group which normally meets on the 2nd Friday each month but this is subject to change. We visit places of historical interest or meet to hear a speaker, watch a film or to make plans. Members are encouraged to suggest sites they would like to visit or projects which we can research.
We do not restrict our interest to the immediate area of Rayleigh and are happy to go further afield. Our recent meetings have included a visit to the WW1 aerodrome at Stow Maries (with tea and home made cake in the mess hall), a tour of Layer Marney Tower with one of the owners who included the private accommodation in the tour, and a visit to the Docklands Museum of London to see the exhibition of the Crossrail excavations.
When the weather is likely to be unsuitable for travelling further afield we normally meet at Rawreth Village Hall in Church Road where we have had some excellent speakers or we may watch a local history DVD.
Group Leader : Sue Howarth Reading
From Able seamen to Admirals
Barges to Battles
Dugouts to dredgers
Smugglers to submarines -
Tramp Steamers to the Titanic...the potential subjects for our monthly round-table meetings is almost infinite.
Our group explores all of interest in Maritime History; everyone contributing to the meeting where two presentations are given leading to post-topic discussion and lively banter.
Impressment not a feature but keelhauling likely!!
We meet on the first Monday pm.