A report on Thundersley in the Southend Standard 1902

Column 1 of Page 3 for Thursday 16th January 1902

Responsible journalism in 1902
Section of 1777 Chapman and Andre map

How rumours arise or A Tale of Thundersley Life
{a transcription of the first column of the Southend Standard article}

The village of Thundersley, or, rather the district, for the houses comprised in it are widely scattered and nowhere congregate into anything approaching a hamlet, comprises one of those hilly areas, notable in Essex because so rare. Thundersley, moreover, apart from this distinguishing feature, holds within its extensive limits a wide prospect, which, for fairness of view, and health and charm as a residential resort, has but few peers is His Majesty’s rural realms.

From Benfleet, passing through the old churchyard as a short cut, and noting by the way the difference between the sloppy roads, if it be at all damp (which is a feature to be met with here in winter, if rarely in summer), and the clean asphalt walk carried on for some distance after it leaves the churchyard, a pedestrian bound Thundersley way must tramp for, say, half a mile, passing the main road to Hadleigh, itself a beautiful walk enough, and another route leading “ innards and uppards,” till he perceives a sort of bridle path striking up the hill and bisecting the Thundersley Park estate. Taking this road its first appearance is soon belied, for it opens out into a fairly wide road, with a good cinder path running alongside.

Taking the black road and keeping to it, for red ones of almost equal size run off at various angles, you pass several bijou villas, aggressive in their newness, but otherwise well favoured.
Twenty minutes’ steady climbing brings you to a level plateau, whereon is built Jarvis Hall, in which now resides Mr, R. Varty, a one-time candidate for the Harwich Division, and the owner of the Thundersley Park Estate, which is steadily being reclaimed from its former agricultural character and developed as building land. Beside the Hall, itself not a new erection, stands an old Elizabethan building used as a barn now, but whose peaked gables and substantial walls lend the inference that it was an occupied house at one time. On this place formerly stood the residence of a Sheriff of Essex and in the garden even now may be seen traces of an erection of considerable size.

Looking south from the plateau, the silvery Thames can be seen gleaming in the distance.  One can easily imagine the Sheriff gazing from his house at some vessel gliding with the stream and bearing in its broad sides a freight in which, perchance, he, himself, is interested, or it may be a noble fleet of England’s “ wooden walls “ going forth to smite the enemy who dared to threaten the shore, of which he, himself, was custodian.

Leaving this, a hundred yards further brings us to the county road at the spot known as Bread and Cheese Hill. It were best to ask some passer-by just here to ask for direction; the subsequent route being rather complicated, but let us hope with better success than when a few days ago the writer journeyed that way on business bent.

Stopping an old man who hobbled along with a parcel on his back and a stick in his hand, he put the query, “ Pardon me but which is the way to Thundersley Church ?” The ancient came up closer, put his bundle on the ground, circled his ear with the hand thus set free and finally said he was deaf. To a repetition of the enquiry, he said his name was Smith, and to still another, shorter and less polite, that he was a bootmaker.

To the word “Thundersley” thundered in his ear, it appeared that his charge for repairing boots was 2s 6d. Overcoming with an effort a spasm of anger, the humour of the replies softened the writer’s feelings and he left him gently, to “ enquire further on.“

However, turning to the left, the spire of the church soon came into view, and enabled him to take the correct cross roads. Passing by the church, which stands on an eminence and overlooks a famous prospect of hill and dale and gradually descending to familiar flatness, the next place of interest is the old Manor House, now occupied by Mr. J Hughes Ellis, ex-journalist and missionary. Close to this house stands an erection known as the Institute, and thereby hangs this tale.

End of column 1   { and here is the link to the 2nd column}

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