In December 2015 we visited Southchurch Hall in Southend on Sea. It’s a lovely little free museum, and well worth a visit.
Southchurch is Grade 1 listed, and was built as a hall house in the Medieval period, and is now surrounded by houses from many different times; from the Victorian period, the 1930’s through to the 1970’s. It is still surrounded by the remains of its Medieval garden, with a little moat running around it. As a result to reach the hall from the road you have to cross a little bridge, which for children visiting the hall must make it feel quite magical.
There are three rooms in the hall, and it’s this small domestic scale that makes the hall so special. It’s possible to imagine people living ordinary lives in the hall. It was in fact lived in by farming families right up until the 1930’s. The hall has never been the home of the elite, but always the home of those working on the land or in manual jobs.
There is a an open hall of the Medieval period, a Tudor kitchen complete with a large fireplace and Tudor pottery, which I particularly liked, and a solar wing displaying Tudor and Stuart rooms.
Although it’s only a small museum and a visit won’t last long, it’s worth taking the time to imagine the hall before the seaside town of Southend grew up around it. Maybe those who lived in this isolated place were both farmers and fisherman, for the banks of the River Thames are only a short walk away.
On the same trip we also visited Prittlewell Priory, Southend Central Museum and the Beecroft Gallery.