This month my heritage walk took me to Leigh on Sea and following the heritage trail which can be found here – http://www.leighsociety.com/.
Before i talk about the trail, I wanted to tell you a little about Leigh on sea itself. First listed in the DOmesday book as Legra, although the meaning of the word is not clear. It has always been a fishing community due to its proximity to the estuary however the other half of Leigh is a farming community also.
Some famous historic names to come out of leigh include RIchard Haddock, knighted by Charles II after the battle of sOle Bay and Captain Brand, midshipman on the HMS Revenge in the battle of Trafalgar. John Constable is said to have stayed with his uncle at Junipers Cottage when visiting to paint Hadleigh Castle (https://fortheloveofhistoryhome.wordpress.com/2019/03/24/the-castle-on-the-hill-hadleigh-castle/)
Historical events include being involved in providing ships for the defence against the Spanish Armada in 1588. And more recently, a number of fishing vessels went over to rescue those soldiers trapped in the evacuation of Dunkirik https://fortheloveofhistoryhome.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/150/) There is even some who believe the Mayflower may have stopped at Leigh for supplies before setting off to the Americas.
Sadly, with the arrival of the railway in the 1850s it is said that over half the buildings, some Tudor houses were lost.
The trail is 1.8 miles and is in a loop, meaning you finish where you start. I followed the majority of the route, however I made a few detours due to access for the buggy. There are plenty of places to get refreshments when in OLd Leigh itself. I have only mentioned a few of the stops below but there are many more.
The route starts at Leigh Library, a Tudor style building, dating back to 1838 and originally the Rectory.
St Clement’s Church – Dedicated to the patron saint of sailors and tanners, the church building has its origins in the 15th century. WIthin the graveyard you can find the graves of RIchard Haddock and Captain Brand. There is a memorial to those who perished at Dunkirk on the Renown along with the legendary Cutlass stone. A place for pirates to sharpen their swords and the entrance to a secret passage….maybe….
Old Bank House – one of the oldest buildings in leigh, oLd Bank house is grade II listed and dates back to 18th century, it is said the stained glass windows once belonged to St CLements CHurch.
The Heritage Centre – once a smithy and now a friendly and informative museum telling the history of Old Leigh. Worth a visit and free to enter, managed by volunteers.
Customs House – The current building dates from 1815, evidence which can still be seen on the drainpipes today.
Opposite Customs house is a large spacious area, known as Strand Wharf, a good place to rest if you choose not to stop at the many pubs for refreshments, or perhaps a cheeky ice cream while resting
The Conduit – easily missed the Conduit was once where fresh water was pumped from a spring in Leigh into OLd Leigh. It ceased to be used in 1920.
New Road Methodist Church – visited by John Wesalet himself in 1748 9who founded methodism) it is said that he was invited to Alright by fishermen from the town after hearing him preach. THe building today dates from 1933 and is known as the Fisherman’s Chapel.
Ending up nearly back at the beginning I headed back to Leigh on Sea train station. If you can take the train you get some beautiful views. However, the town of Leigh itself is served by Arriva buses and First. A great walk for all ages, full of heritage, history and picturesque views.