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Southend - London's Seaside Playground.

Prittlewell Square. - Southend-on-Sea

Prittlewell Square. - Southend-on-Sea

Southend.

My husband is an obsessive Walsall F.C. supporter and every year when we return to the UK, he ends up going somewhere so that he can watch a match. If the somewhere is somewhere interesting, I tag along, we get a hotel room and see the town as well as the match. This year the somewhere Walsall were playing away from home was Southend. Neither of us had been to Southend before. It was a long journey to get there as we started out from Scotland. For the journey down we first travelled to Preston, overnighted there and then travelled down to London. We caught the train to Southend Victoria from Liverpool Street Station.

Busy beach on a sunny day. - Southend-on-Sea

Busy beach on a sunny day. - Southend-on-Sea

Southend on Sea is a seaside resort town in Essex. It is located on the north side of the Thames Estuary about forty miles east of central London. In the summer it is a popular day trip location for Londoners and its beaches can get pretty busy indeed. Southend was originally the "south end" of the village of Prittlewell which was home to Prittlewell Priory. The land at the priory's south end, on the sea, was home to poor fishermen and farmers. Southend remained fairly undeveloped until the nineteenth Century when railway links between it and London were developed. In the same period the town's pier was constructed and the Clifftown area was created. Southend began to be a popular holiday destination. I found Southend to be a very pleasant place with beautiful views over the water, clean, fresh sea air, lots of parks and some interesting historical buildings. It has seven miles of beaches. The area along the longest stretch of beach is bordered by many pubs, restaurants, amusement arcades, shops etc. Although I had never been to Southend before it still brought back memories of the kind of seaside holidays I would go on when I was a child.

Here's where we stayed:

The Westcliff Hotel: Quiet Location.

We stayed in this hotel for one night. We arrived a little bit early, but were allowed to check in without problem. The receptionists were pleasant and friendly. Our room looked out over the Thames Estuary a very lovely view. The bed was comfortable enough.Tea and coffee making facilities were provided. Everything was clean and the room was comfortable. We slept well here. The hotel is in a reasonably quiet location but within easy walk to the centre of Southend. Check out was fine and this hotel should have been heading for a very good review, but a few days after our stay booking.com contacted us to say they would be charging us as a no show for this hotel. Well we had showed up and we had paid, so this meant paying twice. We contacted booking.com and the hotel and eventually got this sorted out. I know mistakes happen but this sort of mistake creates a very bad impression. We received an apology from the hotel and it read 'We apologize for any incontinence caused.' This also did not make a good impression on us. Perhaps we can blame it on predictive texting!! Hotel Westcliff on Sea, Southend on Sea Essex, England. Address: 1820 Westcliff Parade, Southend on Sea, SS0 7QW.

The Westcliff Hotel - Southend-on-Sea

The Westcliff Hotel - Southend-on-Sea

The Westcliff Hotel - Southend-on-Sea

The Westcliff Hotel - Southend-on-Sea

The Westcliff Hotel - Southend-on-Sea

The Westcliff Hotel - Southend-on-Sea

Southend Pier.

Southend is famous for its pier which at 1.34 miles long is the longest pier in the world. Come on Dubai beat that! The pier was built to encourage visitors to come to Southend. Boats could not dock here at low tides, as the tide recedes more than a mile from the beach and so tourists bypassed Southend in favour of more accessible resorts, such as Margate. The pier allows ships to dock here in all tides. The earliest pier was made of wood, but this was later replaced by an iron pier. During the Second World War a royal navy ship, the SS Richard Montgommery, which was packed with explosives, sank near the pier. This ship is still visible at low tide and its cargo still poses a serious threat to passing ships and seafront areas. Southend Pier has suffered many calamities such as fires and being hit by passing ships. A train runs along the pier. We did not actually go on the pier due to lack of time, but apparently it has a museum, lifeboat station, cafe and gift shop.

Southend Pier

Southend Pier

Southend Pier

Southend Pier

Southend Pier

Southend Pier

Southend Cliff Gardens.

We walked along Southend Cliff Gardens from the pier in order to get to our hotel. These steep gardens rise up behind one of Southend's beaches. There are many seats in the gardens where you can sit down and enjoy the lovely views out over the water. The gardens are also home to a statue of Queen Victoria and a war memorial. Because of staying in a hotel right next to the Cliff Gardens, we walked through them several times. The views out over the Thames Estuary were beautiful and always different depending on the time of day and whether it was high tide or low tide. I could have happily sat here for hours and many people seemed to do exactly that. As well as the lovely views, the sea air here was marvellous.

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Southend Cliff Gardens

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Views From Southend Cliff Gardens.

Southend Cliff Railway.

We noticed a rather dinky little funicular railway running between the Clifftop Gardens and the beach below. We did not have time to use it unfortunately. This railway is called the Southend Cliff Railway. It was constructed in 1912. It is currently owned and operated by the Museums Department of Southend. The funicular only has one cab which can carry twelve people at a time. The funicular is open daily during the summer months and runs between 10:00 and 17:00. It costs one pound return.

Southend Cliff Railway

Southend Cliff Railway

Southend Cliff Railway

Southend Cliff Railway

Southend Cliff Railway

Southend Cliff Railway

Prittlewell Square.

Across the road from the Southend Cliff Gardens there is a lovely ornamental gardens known as Prittlewell Square. These are Southend's oldest surviving public gardens. As well as being filled with lots of colourful flowers, the gardens have a charming pond and fountain.

Prittlewell Square

Prittlewell Square

Prittlewell Square

Prittlewell Square

Prittlewell Square

Prittlewell Square

Cliffs Pavilion.

Cliffs Pavilion was located very close to our hotel so we had a look at it. Cliffs Pavillion is a theatre which seats 1,630 people. This theatre offers a wide range of variety acts. Construction of Cliffs Pavilion began in the1930s, but was halted after the outbreak of World War 11. The site remained boarded up after the war until 1959 when work began on the present Cliffs Pavilion, which opened in 1964. There was an interesting statue outside the building and some restaurants nearby.

Cliffs Pavilion.

Cliffs Pavilion.

Cliffs Pavilion.

Cliffs Pavilion.

Beaches.

Apparently Southend has around seven miles of beaches. We walked along Three Shells Beach which is the busiest beach as it is located next to the pier and Adventureland. It is also just across the road from cafes, bars, restaurants, amusement arcades and shops. We also walked along the slightly quieter Jubilee Beach which was near the Kursaal and Sealife Adenture. From our walk along Southend Cliff Gardens we overlooked Westcliff Beach. The weather was fairly sunny during our stay and the beaches were busy. I assume they are very popular with day trippers from London. It was nice to see so many people enjoying the seaside and a brave few venturing into the water.

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

The Kursaal.

Across from the beaches I noticed an interestingly shaped building called the kursaal. I assumed from its name, it had once been a health spa, but in fact it was one of the world's first purpose built amusement parks. This Grade II listed building first opened in1901 and originally contained a circus, a ballroom, an arcade, a dining hall and a billiard room. The Kursaal declined in the early 1970s. First the outdoor amusements closed, then the main building closed down all together in 1986. In 1998, after a multimillion pound redevelopment the main Kursaal building reopened. It now contains a bowling alley and a casino.

The Kursaal

The Kursaal

Southchurch Park.

Southchurch Park is a pleasant park with a large duck pond, rose gardens and a cricket ground. There was a cricket match taking place when I got there. I watched it for a while and later sat by the duck pond, letting the world pass me by. Very nice on a sunny afternoon.

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

Southchurch Park

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist.

I came across the Church of Saint John the Baptist as I was wandering around. It looked quite nice, but was not open. There was a large graveyard around it. This church was consecrated in 1842. Several famous people are buried here. Information about them is shown on the photo of the information plaque.

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist

The Church Of Saint John The Baptist

Southchurch Hall.

I love old buildings so was very keen to visit Southchurch Hall. Southchurch Hall is a Grade I Listed Medieval moated house. This building dates from the fourteenth century, though it was extended and altered in Tudor times and in the 1930s. The building was home to farming families and was still used as a family home till the 1920s. When we visited, the upstairs of the building was closed for restoration. Downstairs we could visit the kitchen, the main hall and two smaller rooms called the north and south solar. Entry to Southchurchall is free and there is a gift shop and toilets inside.

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall

Southchurch Hall Park.

Southchurch Hall is surrounded by gardens which are now a public park. We just had a quick look at them as we had to go catch our train and leave. There was quite a large pond there filled with very attractive sunbathing turtles. The gardens would originally have been farmland.

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

Southchurch Hall Park

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain.

The first thing we did when we arrived in Southend was to go looking for the football ground so my husband could find it easily at match time. On our way there the first interesting site we passed was the Civic Centre and its fountain. This was designed by sculptor Bill Mitchell. For inspiration he used the Southend coat of arms and motto 'Per mare, per ecclesiam'. An inscription on the fountain reads: 'This is what it looks like when the figures in the Southend crest by the church and by the sea, take off their belts, put down their swords and fountains of water come out of their mouths. ' We found the coat of arms on the door of the nearby civic centre. I rather liked this fountain and the idea of reworking the coat of arms in such a playful way.

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Civic Centre And Its Fountain

The Churchill Gardens.

A bit further on from the civic centre we came to the Churchill Gardens. These gardens were created by Mr Frank Scheerboom. He was the owner of the Express Laundry in Southend, and together with his wife lived in the laundry grounds. He bought the land behind his house which was originally a sand pit. Then in 1951 Mr Scheerboom called in landscape gardener, Ian Walker, to convert the sandpit into gardens. After ten happy years enjoying his gardens, Mr Scheerboom died in1961 and his widow carried on maintaining the laundry and the gardens. Then in 1964 she sold them to the Southend Corporation. The Scheerboom's house and laundry have been demolished, but the beautiful gardens remain open to the public. The gardens were officially opened on 4th May 1966 by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex Sir John Ruggles Brise. We stopped here to eat our breakfast/lunch before continuing on our way. The gardens were peaceful and filled with lots of highly active squirrels.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Churchill Gardens.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin Prittlewell.

At the far end of the Churchill Gardens, just across the road, we saw the lovely Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. Apparently there has been a church on this site for more than a thousand years. It is believed that a small chapel once stood on the site of the present church as far back as the seventh century. The church grew in size and importance over time. However, in the reign of Henry VIII, at the time of the Reformation, much of the church's income and assets were seized. During the Second World War, Saint Mary's suffered blast damage. We went inside the church only to find it was being prepared for a wedding. However, as the wedding had not started, we were able to look around. I was impressed by the church's stain glass windows. They were quite unusual, not all of them were religious some depicted local scenes. There is a well cared for graveyard around the outside of the church.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

The Church Of Saint Mary The Virgin - Prittlewell.

Southend Football Club.

Southend Football Club's grounds are not far from St Mary's Church. Southend are known as the blues. I liked the sense of humour shown on the outside of the club. I did not go and watch the match. I explored Southend while Peter was at the football. Walsall won, so he was happy. There was a nice atmosphere at the match and some pubs on route had signs inviting Walsall fans in for a drink. A bit different from Wetherspoon's, Wolverhampton with its home supporters only sign at the door!

Southend Football Club.

Southend Football Club.

Southend Football Club.

Southend Football Club.

Southend Football Club.

Southend Football Club.

Prittlewell Priory.

A little further on from the football ground we reached Priory Park and Prittlewell Priory. Prittlewell Priory was founded in the twelfth century by monks from the Cluniac Priory of St Pancras. It was a small monastery only housing around 18 monks. The Cluniac Order were largely a silent order and developed sign language for communicating. In the sixteenth century, during the reformation and dissolution of the monasteries, much of the building was destroyed. After that time Prittlewell Priory became a private residence. The last family to live here were the Scrattons in the nineteenth century. When they lived here, the house had thirteen bedrooms. Some of their possessions and paintings are on display inside the priory. In 1917 the building was purchased by Robert A. Jones, a local jeweller and philanthropist. He donated it to the City Council and in May 1922 it opened as Southend's first museum. In 2011 the priory buildings were refurbished and the construction of a new Visitor Centre was begun. Entry to the priory is free. The building is a mixture of priory, private home and museum. Two of the downstairs rooms tell the story of the Scratton family. Also downstairs is the monks' refectory hall with displays about life in the priory. There is also part of an old cellar. Upstairs has displays about the wildlife found in Priory Park.

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Prittlewell Priory

Priory Park.

Priory Park was originally the grounds of Prittlewell Priory. It is now a lovely public park. To enter the park you pass through some rather ornate gates. There is a large grassy area in front of you and off to the right there are the priory's former fishing ponds which are still fished by local anglers today. As you near the priory, the gardens become very beautiful and flower filled. There is a rose garden and a flower filled walled garden which was a kitchen garden when the Scrattons occupied the house and a burial ground when the building was a priory.

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Priory Park

Graffitti.

As I was wandering I passed this derelict building with paintings on it. I recognize the scenes from Porridge with Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale, but I am not sure what the others are. No idea who painted them there or why.

Graffitti

Graffitti

Graffitti

Graffitti

Graffitti

Graffitti

Sunsets.

As we walked back to our hotel after dinner, the sun was just beginning to set. It was peaceful and quite romantic down at the beach a far cry from the earlier crowds, though just across the road from the beach for many the party had just begun.

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

Sunset Over The Beach

On our journey down too Southend on Sea we spent a night in Preston. Our hotel was close to the memorial below.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

We noticed this interesting monument in front of the corn exchange pub in Preston when we visited recently. It commemorates those who died during the Preston Strike and Lune Street Riot which took place in Preston on the 12th and 13th of August 1842. These riots were part of the 1842 General Strike which was prompted by the depression of 1841 to 1842. During that time cotton mill workers' wages were cut by more than twenty-­five percent. Preston officials, such as the Mayor Samuel Horrocks and several mill owners, together with 30 soldiers and members of the police confronted the rioters who began throwing stones at them. Mayor Samuel Horrocks read the Riot Act. When the crowd did not disperse, the military opened fire, shooting at least eight men. The rioters then fled. Four men were killed in the shooting: John Mercer, aged 27 of Ribbleton Lane, Preston, William Lancaster, aged 25 of Blackburn, George Sowerbutts, aged 19 of Chandler Street, Preston and Bernard McNamara, aged 17 of Birk Street, Preston. The public were shocked and outraged by the killings. A memorial in memory of the cotton workers was unveiled on Lune Street on 13th August 1992, the 150th anniversary of the shooting. The memorial was designed by the British artist Gordon Young.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

The Martyrs' Memorial, Preston.

Posted by irenevt 07:15 Archived in England

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Comments

I must admit I hadn't realised there was so much of historical interest in Southend - Prittlewell Priory looks particularly interesting and its gardens lovely :) I do admire your husband's dedication to his team, and I'm glad to read the pubs were welcoming to away fans as I know from my own experience that this is not always the case. But maybe when Walsall play Wolves it is understandable - they are usually more cautious when it is a local derby match being played.

by ToonSarah

Hi Sarah the historical sights there are worth seeing plus they have beautiful gardens. I'd recommend a visit.

by irenevt

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