Visiting the site of Sweyn's Castle


By Robert Hallmann

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On Rayleigh’s Mount I walked that summer morning,

It’s one-time moat alive with ducks and coots.

The coppiced willows, ivy-grown, adorning,

The busy vole at home among their roots.


A pigeon cooed, the magpie homed in splendour,

As birdsong all about joined in the throng

To drown the voice from car and train and vendor.

The redbreast sang. The raven croaked along.


A sound-swell rose up in my contemplation

From fosse and bailey, barbican and ditch

And I heard voices in its congregation

In Saxon tongues and some of Norman pitch.


From far in time commands and curses tumbled.

The sounds of horses, anvil, craftsmen’s toil.

A blessing mixed with serfs’ and yeomans’ grumbles.

A minstrel’s song. A sermon of the soil.


And tears and laughter mixed with lamentation.

The voice of Sweyn, the Conqueror’s kin, resounds.

And England’s Standard Bearers proudly take their station

And raise their banners on this humble mount.


Photo:View from the Mount to windmill and church

View from the Mount to windmill and church

© Robert Hallmann

Photo:Rayleigh Castle Moat reflections

Rayleigh Castle Moat reflections

© Robert Hallmann

This page was added by Robert Hallmann on 25/08/2012.
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I well remember the cans of lemonade, and I think also orangeade powder. They were tipped down a slope behind the old granary buildings of Browns Mill (later to become Rayleigh Sports and Social Club). I always had the impression they had been stored there and dumped down the embankment following a clear out. I did not realise they had been stolen and dumped. I well remember a policeman visiting Love Lane school and instructing everybody not to touch them and to hand back any they already in their possession (which I suspect many children and adults already had). I cannot remember what happened to mine but do remember sampling some of the contents and suffering no ill effects. If I remember correctly the tins were about 9 inches high by about 5 or 6 inches diameter, with a lid and were an army green colour with white or light grey writing giving information about the contents.

Whilst on the subject of Rayleigh Mount a number of us used to go off to Sunday School on a Sunday afternoon at Holy Trinity or the Parish Rooms (now an Italian restaurant), but then realised that there was a small shop open in Bellingham Lane behind the Bellingham Café where you could buy a single very long cigarette called a Sixpenny Joystick. We used to skip Sunday School, spend the collection money we had been given on one of these and go to the Mount and smoke them. Our parents never became aware of this.

Also, who remembers the "Bum Tree" along the footpath by the moat, so called because of a great number of similar looking blemishes on its trunk.

We also used to catch newts in the moat with fishing nets and take them home in jam jars.

By Sid Barker
On 01/08/2014

Sometime about 1953/4 someone stole a lorry load of wartime canned lemonade powder, presumably from a regional government storage facility.  When the thieves discovered what they had stolen, and that it was no longer considered fit for human consumption, they dumped it on the eastern boundary of Rayleigh castle, roughly where the Regal cinema met the boundary, but slightly north.  Children at local schools were all warned not to touch it, or mix the powder from the tins with water and drink it, but of course, curiosity got the better of many of us.

By Bernard De Neumann
On 29/07/2014
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