The far south-east corner of Essex may be remote from the rest of the county but it has been the entry point for generations of immigrants, from Vikings pillaging Shoeburyness to tourists arriving at Southend Airport. As such, its history is fascinating and diverse. This course will explore the settlement and social history of the region, linking it to the local geography and world events. Discover interactions between the towns and villages, eminent local personalities and the development of economies. Students will discuss how Rochford superseded Rayleigh as the administrative centre, how parish boundaries influenced people's lives, and how transport routes developed. They will explore the architectural gems of this area - Dutch cottages, windmills, former manor houses and Victorian schools - many almost hidden by recent urban developments. There may be opportunities for site visits, which will be agreed with students during the course.

Course aim

A history of the landscape, people and buildings of south-east Essex between the Crouch and the Thames.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify five or more ancient buildings in the area and discuss their history.
  • Identify sites of particular archaeological interest on a map of the area.
  • Compare the rising and declining fortunes of Rayleigh and Rochford.
  • Discuss the administrative changes within the boundaries of the Rochford Hundred.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Please bring a pen and paper to write on (for your own notes). You may like to use a camera or sketch book to conduct your own fieldwork to support your learning.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

Download full Course information sheet


Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has been cancelled.


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  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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