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Leigh-on-Sea.Community.Looking Back.Culture.Connections.

Leigh Rectory, now Leigh library, resides on the upper part of the cliffs overlooking Leigh old town on The Broadway, Leigh-on-Sea.  This building was commissioned by Robert Eden when he became rector in 1837, and was completed in 1838. In terms of era it’s a late Georgian (1714-1837) come early Victorian (1837-1901) build .The previous building, "The Old Rectory"  was pulled down by Robert Eden when he was instituted as the Rector, replacing his predecessor the Rev. J.D. Hodge.


We now see only one quarter of the Original building, the rest being pulled down by Southend Corporation when they acquired the building and land. To give an indication to the size and grandeur of Robert Eden's Rectory and Gardens, they covered 6 acres or approximately 24 thousand square meters.  The original building would have spread into Broadway West and Rectory Grove, right up to the present BT telecomm centre and post office. The rear of the current Library facing out to Leigh Old Town


Dr Robert Eden's caused some contention during his time as Leigh's Rector by closing down Chess Lane which ran across the cliff edge, overlooking Leigh's beautiful old town. He "graciously"  gave Leigh's residence right of way to the north of the building, now called Rectory Grove and a high fence with no view!  We can fairly assume this caused some upset


The porch, facing into the Rectory Grove on the north side of the building, was originally on the east side. The Crest on the South side, pictured below, shows the building date of 1838, the crest of London and a Latin motto “Si Sit Prudentia” or “If there be but Prudence”. According to Debrette’s Peerage this was the motto of George Eden, 1st  and Last Earl of Auckland, who was born in 1784 and died in 1849.




The coat of arms at the front of the building, consisting of two crossed swords and a mitre hat would seem to derive from Cierrey in France in the department (or district) of Eure.  See: Wikimedia


Paradoxically this old 19th century building, now has new technologies such as computers and music CD's as well as the more traditional library text books. See for the nearest Internet based library and to see a photograph of the original 1938 building under the "Site Map" page, "Leigh Library" heading. The current grounds are well cared for, with a small enclosed play park for children, and the more sedate and well cared for Garden's for adults.   


Leigh Library - The Original Rectory