The Regal Room

Rayleigh, its People, Places and Heritage

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Local History Group 'Rayleigh Through the Looking Glass' have over time acquired a significant
number of Rayleigh related artefacts, such as postcards, maps, books, ephemera and much more.
These have been displayed at a number of regular exhibitions held in the town but they now have
a permanent home for all to see, enjoy, and learn about our Town’s history.

closed notice

Our Volunteers have been busy working on various projects and in February they worked an amazing 538 Hours!


Mill Hall Poster

Freinds Poster

More information and application form on our Friends page

Ernie Lane

picture of Ernie Lane It is with great sadness that I must announce that Ernie Lane, who celebrated his 102nd birthday on the 2nd May this year, having played a prominent part in the life of Rayleigh since his family moved to the village in 1920, passed away on the 13th December 2020.

Ernie was a pupil at Love Lane School and later joined the 1st Rayleigh Scouts in 1926 and rose to become both Cub and Scout Master. After joining the Territorials in 1937, he had a distinguished war record culminating in being the Staff Captain and Town Mayor in the town of Preveza in Crete. On returning to Rayleigh at the end of WW2, Ernie joined the Financial Times group holding an executive position with the 'Investors Chronicle' until his retirement in 1982.
It was in 1950 that he commenced his local voluntary work by raising the funds and materials to build a footpath to enable the elderly residents of Eastwood Lodge access to the Eastwood Road and beyond for the first time.
He was elected to the Rayleigh Urban District Council in 1953, serving on all committees and becoming its Chairman in 1960.

Ernie was the first Chairman to be invited to a Royal Garden Party in 1961.
Ernie was Chairman of the last town carnival held in 1957.
He was heavily involved in local schools as Governor of Sweyne and Manager of both Grove and Rayleigh Primary schools. It was as Chairman of the Rayleigh Primary School PTA that Ernie masterminded the building of the sports pavilion and swimming pool at the school, which was opened in 1961 by the Olympic swimmer, Ann Long. His extensive knowledge of Rayleigh was put to good use in 1991 when his first local history book 'Rayleigh a Pictorial History' (with Edward Fitzgerald) was published and this was followed in 1996 by his second book 'Rayleigh Its People and Places'.
All funds raised from the sale of these books, and the 96 slide shows he subsequently gave to local groups and associations, were donated to local charities and good causes. Ernie was a consultant and heritage adviser to Rayleigh Town Council for many years, and instigator of the town's heritage plaques, a scheme which continues today. The council recognised Ernie for all his contributions to the town's heritage by naming him Citizen of the Year 2009, followed in 2010 by the naming of the walkway between the High Street and Webster's Way as "Ernie Lane".
Ernie will always be remembered by many as "MR. RAYLEIGH" and his archive of Rayleigh ephemera was the foundation for the Rayleigh Town Museum. Ernie was truly the last of a generation and will be sadly missed by all his many family and friends.

Mike Davies
Chairman Rayleigh Town Museum

We're Good To Go

Good To Go logo

The Museum is proud to have acquired the Visit England 'We're Good to Go' Industry Standard mark which reflects that we have followed government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, have a Risk Assessment in place and a process to maintain cleanliness and maintain social distancing.



Object of the Week

Warmen Courageous book

Trevor Cocks in uniform

The picture above is Trevor Cocks from the Hertfordshire Home Guard Living History Group who has been to the museum on a number of occasions, teaching us about the Home Guard.

Home Guard

We have a significant display and archive of the Rayleigh Home Guard from World War Two.

Most important is the definitive book on the history of the Home Guard in Essex entitled Warmen Courageous with a chapter on Rayleigh including many photos of the Rayleigh men who served. Also, on display in the Museum is a discharged shell case, dated 1942, from a Spitfire fighter aircraft, believed to have been fired in anger whilst flying over Castle Road, with the shell case later dug up in a back garden.

During World War 2, Rayleigh had its own Home Guard unit formed from the original LDV (Local Defence Volunteers) and their official name was “C” Company of the 1st Essex Battalion Home Guard. Command was initially under Major W.T. Wormington, a retired regular army officer who soon stood down, on account of his age, to be replaced by Major R.G. Garrod.

As part of the usual Home Guard duties, they would spend hours training, taking courses and entering competitions in rifle and pistol shooting.The Rayleigh Battalion was very successful and won a number of trophies, such as the Mapleson Cup. Many men gained an interest in shooting and after the war formed a “Rifle and Pistol” club, which continues to this day.

Spitfire Bullet


Open for our Friends

The museum was open in October to our Friends Group.

Cllr Robin Dray, Chairman of Rochford District Council and his wife Yvonne (members of our Friends Group),
seen here with Chairman, Mike Davies, visited the museum on our opening day to show their support.

Robin Dray, Mike and Yvonne


How do you spell Rayleigh? This is the Raley page from our copy of Morants History of Essex, which is regarded by many as the first definitive history of Essex. It was originally published in 1768, our edition is dated 1816.

Morants History of Essex

Another wonderful picture from the museum archives. What was Crown Lane, now Crown Hill. Taken from the mount, you can see the Dutch Cottage. I believe the footpath in this Google Streetview picture is the one to the right of the cottages which were known as Sweeps Row.

Crown Lane, Dutch Cottage and Sweeps Row

Here is a picture of Stock Car Racing at Rayleigh Stadium in May 1969.

Stock car racing

Can You Help?

Our picture today, Friday 3rd April 2020.
Whilst we know where some of our pictures have been taken, many contain locations and people that we need help identifying.
If you can identify anywhere or anyone in any of the pictures, please send us a message.
Today's photo is of Rayleigh Secondary School Football Team from 1938-39, (now FitzWimarc). We have a few of the names of the boys but most are unidentified.
If you can help, please send us a message with any names, making sure to include the number on the person in the photo.

Rayleigh Secondary School Football Team from 1938-39

"As no one is able to visit the museum at the moment we thought we would share some recently acquired pictures from our collection over the next few days.
Whilst we know where some are taken, many contain locations and people that we need help identifying.
If you can identify anywhere or anyone in any of the pictures, please send us a message.

Today's photo is of The Crown pub and Lloyd's Bank, but where the Star Cafe is now located is a shop called Thomas Lebon and Sons, does anyone know what this shop sold and how long it was there for?"

Announcement - Coronavirus

“In view of the latest development with the Coronavirus pandemic the Museums Trustees have decided to close the Museum until further notice with immediate effect. We have taken this decision to protect, as much as we can, both our Volunteers and members of the public. The Museum is in a strong place to deal with the ramifications of this closure and our Social media outlets will remain open to deal with any questions or enquiries you may have.
Further updates will be given on a regular basis. Please feel free to phone our Chairman Mike Davies on 01268 785657 with any specific enquiries.” The museum email [email protected] will still be monitored.

Entry is Free

Tourist information sign

We are a Tourist Information Point
with local walk leaflets available as well.

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We have a new range of merchandise, come in and take look. More pictures soon.
Spitfire merchandise

A selection of Wooden Toys
Wooden Toys



This is the result of a community coming together.

We are proud to have played a small part in this installation at Holy Trinity Church. Many thanks to those who spent hours knitting or crocheting the Poppies. Well done Rayleigh Town Council, Nicola and the team at Holy Trinity. What a fantastic community effort to remember the citizens of Rayleigh killed while serving their country.




Let us know what you think of your visit

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Two new unique postcards of Rayleigh Town & Rayleigh Town Museum
50p each

Pictures of Rayleigh Pictures of Rayleigh Town Museum

deeds documents

Please check back here regularly for updates on our progress and information on fundraising events.

For more information or feel you can help us in any way please contact Mike Davies

Join the Friends of Rayleigh Town Museum

Heritage Lottery Fund Logo

picture of rayleigh high street picture of dutch cottage and crown hill

Rayleigh Town Museum, 1st floor, 91, High Street, Rayleigh, Essex, SS6 7EJ
Opening Hours: 10am to 4pm, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday
Museum Telephone 01268 773535 (answerphone when we are not open)

Charitable Incorporated Organisation 1159405