Rayleigh U3A was formed in October 2007 by our Founder Member the late Marian Allen and a small group of retired men and women who lived in Rayleigh and the surrounding area. Marian, a University of the Third Age member for over twenty years identified a need for a U3A in this area. In February 2016 Marian was added to the U3A National Roll of Honour for her outstanding contribution to the U3A Movement.

Each U3A is run independently but collectively as part of the International University of Third Age movement that originated in France in 1972 and has now spread to many countries worldwide. In the UK there are now over 1,000 U3As with over 400,000 members. All U3As are autonomous in their running but are supported by the Third Age Trust whose National Office is situated 52, Lant Street, London SE1 1RB.

Rayleigh U3A is a Registered Charity (No. 1134068).

The latest information for Rayleigh U3A members can be found in our Newsletters


Can I join? U3A membership is not related to a specific age but to a period in one’s life (the third age) after the second age of full-time employment and parental responsibility. Anybody in their third age can join U3A and this includes people who are working part time. There is no lower age for membership.

Rayleigh U3A which is celebrating it's 10th Anniversary in 2017 started with 69 members and now has a membership of 455. All U3As are different because the skills and talents of their members define what groups and social activities they can offer. The £20 cost of membership is minimal covering administration costs including an affiliation fee to the Third Age Trust of £3.50. It entitles members to enjoy group activities, the monthly meeting with guest speaker, receive an in house newsletter plus U3A News four times a year from the National Office plus a Sources Magazine.

Membership to our U3A is opened at the end of each calendar year when applications for membership are considered depending on the number of vacancies.

Social outings, Study Days, Events, Holidays etc. will incur additional costs.


The current annual membership fee is £20 per annum. This gives access to all the U3A’s activities although membership of certain groups may incur expenses such as books, materials, travel costs etc.


There are a number of OTHER U3A’s in this area including - Rayleigh Grange, Hawkwell Village, Hullbridge, Hockley and Hawkwell, Hadleigh Castle, Benfleet, Ashingdon and Rochford, Leigh-on-Sea, Canvey Island, Basildon and Billericay, Leigh Estuary, Leigh Belfairs, New Eastwood, Riverside (Hullbridge) and Thundersley. Rayleigh U3A is a member of the Essex Association of U3As.

Membership enquiries should be submitted using the form to be found on the Contact page. Applications for membership will be forwarded automatically to the Membership Secretary of each U3A. Please state your name, address and telephone number.

Rayleigh U3A encourages men and women who are retired or semi-retired to pursue their interest in a wide range of educational subjects and leisure activities and can also use their own skills, knowledge and expertise to help fellow members by starting a study or leisure group. The number and variety of group subjects increases each month. Groups are mostly held during daytime in members’ homes, although larger premises may be used where this is considered appropriate.

The word ‘University’ is used in its original sense ‘a group of people with a desire to learn’. No qualifications are required or given, simply learning something for pleasure and enjoyment i.e. Cribbage, Family History, London History, Social History, Art Appreciation, Bird Watching, Luncheon Groups, Book Clubs, Psychology, Drama, Walking, Serendipity, Scrabble, Flower Arranging, Papercrafts, Knit and Natter, Tai Chi, Keep Fit and and more… The choice is endless and the enjoyment fulfilling.

Rayleigh U3A monthly meetings at Mill Hall, Rayleigh are usually held on the first Thursday of each month excluding August and December featuring a guest speaker. Membership Fee of £20 covers the cost of membership to the Third Age Trust of £3.50, hall hire, guest speakers, refreshments at monthly meeting, a newsletter, Group Information Booklet, U3A National Magazine, ‘Sources’ Magazine, administration costs, new members Coffee Morning and Group Leaders’ Day.

Social Events organised by the Committee may include coach trips, holidays at home and abroad, quiz nights, luncheons, party nights, variety nights and other social occasions.

Rayleigh U3A has a membership of 450. There is an intake of new members at the beginning of each calendar year and when the capacity is reached the membership is closed until the next year. Please send your contact details to the Membership Secretary via the Contact page for entry onto the waiting list to join our U3A.

Thank you for browsing our web site and if you would like to know more about Rayleigh U3A please contact me via the Contact page.

Yours sincerely,

David Fryer-Kelsey, Chairman Rayleigh U3A