Weeley has a fascinating history and was mentioned in the Domesday Book

Weeley History

Place: Wileia (Weeley) (Domesday data created by 
Professor J.J.N. Palmer, University of Hull)

  • Hundred: Tendring
  • County: Essex
  • Total population: 29 households (quite large).
  • Total tax assessed: 5.7 geld units (quite large)
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 5.7 geld units. Taxed on 5.69.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £8. Value to lord in 1086 £23.
  • Households: 11 villagers. 14 smallholders. 4 slaves.
  • Ploughland: 2 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 9 acres. Pasture 160 sheep. Woodland 230 pigs.
  • Livestock in 1066: 15 cattle. 60 pigs. 240 sheep. 5 beehives.
  • Livestock in 1086: 16 cattle. 30 pigs. 240 sheep. 2 beehives.
  • Lord in 1066: Godwin .
  • Lord in 1086: Eudo the steward.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Eudo the steward.
A good first introduction is by reading ‘A History of Weeley Church and Village’ by Donald J. Brown (1981), published to commemorate the centenary of the rebuilding of St Andrews Church, Weeley, 1881-1981 – A later and more thorough booklet ‘WEELEY Through The Ages’ also by Donald J. Brown (1996) is available at St Andrews Church, and various local outlets.
There is also a delightful pictorial history compiled by Joan Burgoyne (1999) – ISBN no. 0 9534911 0 2

Old Weeley Hall

Old Weeley Hall – this building stood just to the north of the Church. It was largely destroyed by fire around 1830 and never rebuilt.

The original painting is owned by David Weeley of Brook Farm and is in a very poor condition. In his garden is one of the old urns you can see mounted on the gateposts. These stood in the field beside the church until recent times.

St Andrews Church?

The Church in 1879, before being demolished (except for the bell tower). The first mention of the existence of the Church is in 1291, and the earliest surviving parish register was begun in 1599 (now in the Essex Records Office)

The Highlander's Tomb

The Highlander’s Tomb (1969)
Since then the sides of the grave have collapsed and only the top can be seen in the North West of the graveyard.

The Highlander was Alexander McDonald, a soldier in the First Battalion 79th Regiment who in the prime of life was inhumanely murdered in Little Clacton on the morning of 29th July 1806 (Brown, 1996)

Weeley was a strategic point at which to station troops during the Napoleonic Wars, in 1803 a temporary barracks was built behind the Church extending to Ash Farm in Thorpe Road. A number of Scottish units from the Highlands (around 4,000 troops and their families) were stationed on the land. The baptism register shows 173 children were baptised – unfortunately it also records 50 infant deaths in the burial register. By 1814 the barracks were vacated and demolished in 1814 – the area is still referred to as the Barracks by the offspring of folk living during that time, a story told from generation to generation.

The Steam Mill and Post Mill

The Steam Mill – A windmill is mentioned in early records somewhere in Weeley, a lot of corn was grown in the area, so work was plentiful. We know there was a post mill on the Heath until 1844, which was in use until replaced by the steam mill in 1918. This continued in use until 1932 when it was demolished.

Weeley School 1967 Centenary

The Village School – There was a school in Weeley in 1797, in 1810 the Rev. J. Jefferson built a schoolroom in The Street, but in 1865 it was in a bad state of repair and the Rector Rev. W. Thorpe considered it unsafe and made valiant efforts to get a new building erected. He said that the poverty of the Village was so very great, but the money was raised and the new School opened in 1867 – it is still educating the children of Weeley and surrounding districts today.

Land Vending advert 1909

Old Plans for Weeley – It is not the first time that Weeley has been considered a good place for development! In 1909 Payne, Trapps & Co. were advertising The Station Building Estate (see poster above) There were also plans for a large development in Bentley Road, Weeley Heath – building started around 1937 when 6 semi-detached bungalows were built, and a detached bungalow was built for the foreman near the footpath field, but at the outbreak of the war in 1939 the developer decided to sell his land to Pearl Byford’s grandfather, the then tenant farmer (as was his father before him from 1894). Now 6 generations will have lived at Coles Farm. Victoria and Connaught Road were also starting to be developed, but again the outbreak of war stopped the building and saved Weeley from the developers.

Weeley Post Office 1904-1912

The Post Office was based at the house at the top of The Street, then known as ‘The Poplars’ (later ‘Byways’)  between 1904-1912. Mrs Leather, the Post Mistress, is seen here together with three postmen, and their bicycles. Business was probably transacted inside the side door behind them.

The old village hall before being demolished in 1984

The decision to build a Village Hall was taken at a meeting at Byeways, Thorpe Road on January 10th 1910. Various concerts, whist drives, fetes and other fundraing events were held, the proceeds of which amounted to £350, but the war in 1914 halted any further progress. In 1920 efforts were renewed, and two ex-Army Huts were purchased from the Dovercourt camp for £107, and converted into the Village Hall.

This building was replaced in 1984, again after much fund-raising by the hard-working Committee.

The Street

The Street – Weeley Street, facing South, on a Sunday Evening circa 1930.

Traffic jams are nothing new to Weeley residents – Clacton day trippers returning home formed long queues in Weeley Street, also from Walton on Thorpe Road, converging on Black Boy corner. Hence the need for the 1939 Bypass. (Also note the long range of red-brick animal stalls of Home Farm demolished in 1960 and now occupied by the current Post Office.

View of Weeleyhall Wood Sept 2016

Weeley Park or the Wood in Weeley -78 acres – are referred to in a number of ancient documents, including the Domesday Book. (Don Brown, 1996)

Bluebell Wood

Weeleyhall Wood was purchased from the late Roger Weeley by the Essex Wildlife Trust in 1975 and has become a very important Nature Reserve. The wood is shown on old maps and is believed to be over 400 years old. It has become famous for its bluebells in the late spring.

Weeley Pop Festival 1971

Weeley Pop Festival 1971 was organised by Clacton Round Table as a small charity fundraising event for around 5,000 people.[1] When plans for that year’s Isle of Wight Festival fell through, focus shifted to Weeley and the festival grew in importance. Advance ticket sales were over 100,000, and estimates of attendance were between 110,000 and 150,000.[2] The festival took place over the August Bank Holiday. The event was promoted as being non-stop music with acoustic acts scheduled to appear between the electric acts, and the music went on day and night.

Weeley Pop Festival 1971

Weeley Pop Festival 1971 opening act were Hackensack,[3] who went on at midnight 27 August 1971 and played an extended set until the next act arrived, which was Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, followed by the Edgar Broughton Band.[3] The Pink Fairies were not originally booked to play. They simply turned up and performed for free to the campers; they were so popular, however, that they were asked to play on the stage.