The Reading Room, North Ockendon
The Reading Room was built in 1885 in Church Lane for the public by the lord of the manor for locals and farm workers to provide somewhere for them to read news papers and other material. In 1895 it had 40 ordinary members. Vestry meetings were held there from 1906 to 1910. It is at the centre of the village and has been used over the years for parties, village meetings, hand bell ringing, sports and entertainment. It was used by the Sports and Social Club for many years. The villagers purchased the property from the estate of H. Benyon in 1964 for the cost of six pence per household to cover the cost of £20 (negotiated down from £2000) plus expenses. It is a building of historical importance to the village with a wonderful interior and is in keeping with the other buildings locally, a link back to the by-gone age of benevolent land ownership.
We would like to bring this building back from the brink once more, and revive it’s use in the advancement of local community development, of the arts, culture, and the local heritage.
We have held back on writing this post until the police enquiry and legal position of the case had been resolved, but we can now reveal that a local resident uncovered human remains at the Old Rectory while landscaping his garden. A skull had been found in a shallow grave and the police were notified.
The skull can be seen in the centre of the photograph
The police immediately cordoned off the crime scene with tape and posted a 24 hour guard on the site.
A police officer manages a smile at the scene of the grime find
Detectives were called in and in scenes reminiscent of CSI the forensic team got to work. The oldest residents of the area were interviewed to establish who the previous residents of the Old Rectory were and questions were asked over any missing persons known of from the area. Speculation that the skull was that of a child based on its size.
The skull was later sent off to Hawaii, USA where a specialist carbon dating team analysed the skull the results of which we can now be the first to publish on line.
The skull is in fact not that of a child but an older man, and is believed to date back to around 1490 to 1520. The police are not looking for any other suspects and no arrests have been made.
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