15 June, 2013

Southend on Sea's six museums.

A day of heritage in Southend - not least my lunch. I've never really done the historical bits of Southend itself. True I've walked to Hadleigh Castle but that just passed Southend by. I've also tried to get in to the Art Gallery before although not successfully. I decided to do all the museums in Southend today with the exception of the Town Museum and Planetarium. My first was the cliff lift. For £1 it will take you from the cliff to the estuary front and back again, or vice versa. You also get the pleasure of the attendant's genial company. The lift closes about 1710 so there's no night service. Some of these installations are called cliff railways. Not sure what the difference is. Prittlewell square is at the top of the cliff and I took this arty picture to show how bright the day was, which doesn't always come across in my other pictures. The Beecroft Art Gallery, given by Alderman Beecroft in the coronation year of 1953 had a few exhibitions on, one a group of artists from Chelmsford, another of some of the art from the permanent collection, paintings and posters and some photography of beach huts, which were very colourful. The lighting was far too low to appreciate the permanent collection which was a pity because they looked quite nice. During my break for lunch I was seduced by the 1950s typography of the menu and the 1950s atmosphere of the cafe into some of the worst 1950s food you could get. Although I grant you it was cheap. Chicken pie was not on the menu here so I can make no comparisons. So I had my lunch and set off for Southchurch Hall which is a moated meadieval hall house with an extension firmly in the latter part of the twentieth century and victorian bedrooms etc. The service end of the hall is set out as a kitchen and the other end is done out for dining. There are two solars attached and a bedroom above the south solar, that is open to the public. The hall was restored in 1930 and used as a library but later became a museum. I enjoyed that one very much. In the surrounding park, presumably the grounds of the house there was a lake with two families of red snapper terrapins in them. The poor things looked a bit muddy though. Here is another pic of Southchurch Hall After leaving this house I was to walk up to Prittlewell Priory a former cluniac priory made into a vicorian house. However inclement weather made me take shelter in the Town Museum although there is not much there. A display about EKCO radio and a big fireplace being the main points of interest. Prittlewell Priory is heavily restored but well restored. The park was given to the town in 1917 together with the mansion. It was interesting to see the rooms including the cellars. On the way I saw a very old place called Swan Hall and this old place that was called nothing at all.

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