Yellow Advertiser
June 6, 2001

BATTLEGROUND: Priory Crescent, where planners want to carve off the park for a wider road. Photo by Mark Cleveland

'Perpetual use as a public park'

Donated to the council to stop the planners ...

"THE ancient Priory of Prittlewell must be perpetually used as a public park."

With these words in 1917 Southend businessman Robert Jones donated Priory Park by deed of covenant to the council - to stop planners building on it.

Known as the children's friend because of his charitable work, R A Jones bought the 30-acre site from the Scratton family who previously owned if for 200 years.


And in July 1920 the then Duke of York (who became the future George VI) greeted Mr Jones at the grand opening ceremony of the people's park.

Mr Jones suggested the Priory be used as a museum and art gallery and between 1917 and 1921 it was restored, becoming the town's first museum.

The park is famed for its large fishing lake, delightful gardens, maze and rich wildlife.

The cherished park has been used by thousands of Southend people since Mr Jones presented his generous gift.

Prittlewell originally consisted of a small hamlet established by Saxon settlers and Roman and pagan Saxon cemeteries were split by the building of the railway bridge at Eastern Avenue.

The Priory was founded in 1110 by Robert of Essex and the Cluniacs until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 ny Henry VIII.

Brother of the Lord Chancellor, Thomas Audley, bought the building and land for £400 in 1538.

Audley sold the land in 1547 to Richard Rich until hunts masters, the Scratton family, bought the land.

Priory Park was again put on the market when the Scrattons decided to sell up and move to Devon.

In 1974 Southend Council lost its battle to dual Priory Crescent. The then councillor Don Clarke said at the time that main roads should go round the town and not through it. He said traffic would increase and that it would be impossible for people to cross the road to get into the park.

Back to News Page
Back to Home Page