Rayleigh Dutch Cottage at Crown Hill has a past as strange as it’s appearance. Whilst a sign above its door denotes ‘1621’, analysis suggests it was instead likely to have been built around 1740. It is aesthetically similar to the two dutch cottages on Canvey Island dating from the early 17th Century. Whilst the exact origins of the house are unclear, the Dutch had an important influence on coastal Essex. Canvey Island and other local marshlands were reclaimed by engineer Cornelius Vermuyden in the early 17th Century, and less-kindly in 1667 Canvey Island was invaded and partially taken over by Dutch raiders. Whether the house relates to either of these separate events is mere speculation. The potentially older cottages on Canvey are cylindrical in shape, whereas this one is octagonal. It has been suggested that such a shape was used over a standard rectangular house because it would not only give the occupants a better 360 view, but also would be strong and easy to thatch. Despite this, it could have been designed like this because the lack of right-angled corners prevented evil spirits from lurking in the house! Above you can see a beautiful old photograph of the cottage with Rayleigh Mount behind; showing the site considerably less overgrown and developed as it is today. As of 2008, Rochford District Council opened the cottage up to applicants to rent the property for £75 per week; as long as the house is available for pre-arranged tours every Wednesday afternoon.
Sources: Wikipedia, Rochford District Council, Rayleigh: Through the Looking Glass