Rayleigh Heritage Trail

Oldest Secular Building

Rayleigh Town Museum, 91 High Street This is a Grade 2 listed building. Detailed investigations carried out by Essex County Council and Rochford District Council staff established that part of it dates back to C1350 which makes it the oldest secular building in the High Street.

It has undergone many alterations and additions over the centuries. The pleasing shop front with Georgian style bow windows is 20th century in 18th century style. The building is timber framed and plastered. It has red tiled roofs and three red brick chimney stacks. The stack on the south flank wall had to be rebuilt as the original became unstable. The south flank wall was also unstable due to wood decay in the upright timbers which are now supported by brick and concrete piers. Some of these timbers exposed during restoration work were found to be sooted. This is thought to be due to the use of an open fire the smoke from which escaped through an open roof.

In the early part of the 1900's a haberdashery and soft furnishing business flourished under the direction of the Deveson family. The south end of the building was at one time used by the Westminster Bank. The building was known to many people locally for a number of years as The Gas Light and Coke Company--and then The North Thames Gas Board.

The right side of the building is a gabled cross wing of the medieval period. The oldest and most interesting feature is two original window openings showing mortice holes which held diamond shaped mullions used to divide windows before glass was used. The restored building was opened in July 1990 by Sansoms Ltd as a specialist men's outfitters. Sansoms sold the shop in 2002. It was then a ladies' dress shop called Yours. In 2016 Rayleigh Town Museum was opened on the 1st Floor.

Oldest Secular Building, 91 High Street


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