Chronological Data
The northern bank of the Thames upon which Southend-on-Sea is situated has been populated from remote times. 2000 B.C. - 1st Century A.D. The peoples of the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age inhabited the district. There was also successive occupation by Celts, Romans, Saxons and Danes. 1st – 5th Century A.D. Roman occupation area north of Thames. 500 – 650 Settlement in the district of pagan Saxons. 824 Southchurch Church founded. Southchurch (or Sudcera in Saxon) given by Lifstanus, a Saxon thegn, to the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury. A church was no doubt long in existence before 824, but this is the first time the area has been referred to in documentation. The first Saxon church was no doubt made of wood, but with the aid of some superb Norman monks, this original structure would have been replaced by a small stone structure. Some time later around 1120-1150 a greater church structure was built and much of this is still in existence today within Holy Trinity. 894 Battle of Benfleet. Danes defeated and driven across site of modern Southend to Shoebury by King Alfred’s men. South Shoebury became known when, King Alfred being detained by the Danes in the west of England, two troops of these rovers assembled at Shoebury, the ancient name of this place, and raised a fort or castle there. This fort was doubtless, as most of the hasty fortifications of that period were, little more than earthwork surrounded with a trench and a moat. The fort, existing now within the area of the former Horseshoe Barracks and a scheduled ancient monument was occupied in 894 by Haester following his defeat by King Alfred's forces at the Battle of Benfleet 1016 Battle of Ashingdon. Edmund Ironside defeated by Canute. 1066 – 87 Rayleigh Castle built. 1079 The original Shore House was built from the timbers of wrecked ships. The foreman in charge of ship' cargoes lived there. 1086 The Norman nave is built in St Mary's Church Prittlewell which greatly enlarges the church. Leigh recorded in the Domesday Book as Legra, There were five borders (peasants) who probably made their livings by ferrying goods to, from and between ships moored in the estuary, and ferrying passengers up and down the coast. Leigh was a ship buildings and trading port. St Mary's Church Prittlewell is also mentioned in the Domesday Book. The church of St. Mary the Virgin The church of St. Mary the Virgin, one of the largest and, from an architectural point of view, one of the most interesting in the county, is a building of Kentish ragstone, consisting of chancel, nave, south aisle, with eastern or “Jesus” chapel, south porch and a stately Perpendicular embattled western tower, with pinnacles, containing a clock and a peal of 10 bells, the tenor weighing 18-1/2 cwt. Taken as a whole the building may be said to date from the 12th century, the centre aisle being of 11th century work. The three westernmost arches, dividing the nave from the aisle, are of the 12th century, and the restoration, carried out by the late Ewan Christian esq. in 1872, disclosed the fact that they were cut through a wall of much greater age, containing the remains of Early Norman windows. The north wall of the chancel also shows traces of an arch, blocked up, and is composed of Roman bricks. The walls are surmounted by a rich and singularly perfect embattled parapet of flint and stone chequer work, the pulpit is of Caen stone, enriched with marble shafts, the central panel containing a bas-relief, there is an octagonal font with square shaft, eight stained windows have been presented, and include a memorial window to Sir Arundell Neave bart. d. 21 Sept. 1877, consisting of antique 15th century Flemish and Italian glass brought from a church in Rouen and attributed to Albert Durer. The Jesus chapel was restored in 1916 as a memorial to Canon Reay, vicar 1880-1914, the porch was restored in 1921-22, the windows being unblocked, and stained memorial windows depicting St. Michael, St. George, Sir Galahad and King Arthur inserted. In 1922 a memorial cross to those who fell in the Great War, 1914-18, was erected in front of the tower, the tower was restored in 1924-25, at a cost of £2,500. The churchyard was closed for burials by various orders from March, 1869, to Nov. 1881. The register of baptisms dates from 1649 of marriages and burials from 1645. 1100 - 1140 Located in South Shoebury, the Parish Church of St. Andrew is built. The Parish Church of St Andrew was built between 1100 and 1140 and is the most interesting and complete specimen of Norman architecture, located in south Shoebury. The thick walls are built of ragstone rubble with caenstone quoins and the roof is red tiled. The fine embattled tower at the west end is built of flint rubble and ragstone with brick parapet. 1110 Prittlewell Priory established. Here was once a priory of Cluniac monks, founded by Robert de Essex or Fitz-Swain in the reign of Henry II, and dedicated to St. Mary. It was subordinate to the great monastery of that order at Lewes, in Sussex, and the revenues at the Dissolution, when there were seven monks, amounted to £194. 14s. 3d., a fine old Early Tudor timbered roof covers that portion of the refectory which still remains. There are also some remains of the cellars which were probably formed out of the old crypts. The priory and park, covering almost 45 acres, was presented to the borough by the late R.A. Jones esq. M.B.E. in 1917. The refectory and the prior’s chamber were carefully restored under the supervision of P. M. Johnston esq. F.S.A. and some of the rooms are used as the museum for south-east Essex, and contain many interesting local antiquities. The park, which contains some fine old elm trees, is now under the control of a committee of the Corporation. Opposite the priory is a grey Cornish granite drinking fountain, also the gift of the late Mr. Jones. The priory was restored in 1922, and opened as a public museum, which contained many interesting local antiquities and natural history exhibits. 1120 - 1150 Holy Trinity Church, Southchurch, was re-constructed on the site of a previous Saxon wooden structure from 824. The church of the Holy Trinity Southchurch was until 1906 for the most part Norman, having been built in the first half of the 12th century. The present chancel dates from about 100 years later, though the arch is probably 15th century. The south door is Norman, and there are three 13th century lancet windows, in the north wall of the chancel is an Easter sepulchre of the later part of the 14th century and below it is a tomb of the same period, with a modern slab, opposite there is an indent which originally contained a half figure, probably of a priest, and the tomb has a marginal inscription in separate capital letters, which are now illegible. In the nave are steps which led to a roof loft, and there is a double piscina of the 12th century. The bell turret, with timber supports, belongs to the 15th century, but the one bell, inscribed “Johannes” is dated as early as 14th century. In 1906 the greater part of the Norman north wall was taken down and a new nave and part of a north aisle added, the Norman door was removed, stone by stone, and rebuilt into the west wall of the new nave, three ancient windows, one Norman, were taken out and inserted in the new north wall. The church plate dates from 1682. The registers date from the year 1695, and there is a list of rectors from the 13th century. The living is a rectory (1929), net yearly value £960, with residence and 3 acres of glebe, in the gift of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and held since 1918 by the Rev. Edward Ashurst Welch M.A. of King’s College, Cambridge; this living was one of the peculiars of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the church and manor having been given in 824 to Christ Church, Canterbury. 1170 Records from Canterbury Cathedral record the earlier gift by Lifstan of Southchurch to the Monks of Canterbury. 1220 – 30 Hadleigh Castle built. 1238 The de Veres are granted permission to hold a Monday market at Prittlewell. 1240 c1240. First part of Southchurch Hall built. 1255 Royal Elope From Leigh. Leigh Strand drew attention as a young couple arrived, dressed in fineries and fur lined cloaks. They were awaiting a ship to take them to France. The locals who glanced at the couple, may have taken more notice if they had realised in fact the young beautiful girl was Princess Beatrice daughter of King Henry III, who was attempting to elope with Ralph de Binley. While her father was in London negotiating her hand in marriage to Alfonse, Lord of Castille from Spain. Word had got out and a guard from Hadleigh Castle were making there way to apprehend the Princess. They managed to halt the escape and return Beatrice to London, and her beau was taken to Chelmsford Prison where he was tried and sentenced to death. 1285 The first Crow stone erected. The City of London has had associations with the Southend area since 12th century. In 1197 Richard I needed money to equip his expedition to the Holy Land, he sold the rights of the Crown in the River Thames to the Lord Mayor and citizens of London. In 1285 the second Richard confirmed those rights and boundary stones, and boundary stones were erected in the Thames Estuary, and in the Medway to mark the limits of jurisdiction. It became custom to make ceremonial visits to the stones at five or seven years intervals and the name of the visiting Lord Mayor was inscribed on the stones. The Crow stone marked the Thames limit and stood on the shore between Leigh and what later became South End. The earliest stone erected in 1285, worn by constant tides and bad weather, disappeared, but in 1771, Lord Mayor Brass Crosby erected a new stone. Another obelisk, 14 ft high was later erected and the last Lord Mayor to be recorded was Sir James Duke, in 1856. The following year the Thames Conservancy Board was formed by Act of Parliament which transferred to it the rights and privileges of the City. When Lord Mayor Matthew Wood visited the Crow Stone in August, 1816 his distinguished party dined off Southend in the Trinity Yacht and after dinner the civic party were rowed ashore for the ball to be given by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress at the Royal Hotel. 1299 Milton Mill was built. 1381 The Peasants’ Revolt. Led by John Syrat of Shoebury and local peasants against the Poll Tax. The Peasants’ Revolt, led locally by John Syrat of Shoebury against the Poll Tax, occurred as depicted in this painting by Alan Sorrell. The image portrays the peasants storming into Southchurch Hall and finding any rolls or evidence they could burn. There was also a Milton rebellion. Villagers stormed Milton Hall in protest at poor wages and conditions, they burned manorial records; there protests were in vane as they were quelled and the rebellions were forced to pay large fines. 1406 A King Seeks Sanctuary in Leigh. King Henry IV, needing to avoid the plague raging in London was crossing the Thames Estuary when he and his ship was attacked by French pirates. A fierce chase ensued which saw the King's crew using their skill to outwit the pirates and land their sovereign at the Strand in Old Leigh. As he set foot on the Strand the King went down on his knees and, with his eye firmly fixed on the church on the hill, he gave thanks to God for his safe delivery to Leigh. He was persuaded to take refreshment at the closest pub, The Crown, before moving on to Pleshey. 1450 St Clement's Church Leigh-on-Sea starts to be built, legend has it the stones from the ruins of Hadleigh Castle were used in the construction. 1470 St. Mary’s Church tower Prittlewell was built. 1477 Edward IV granted the Licence for the Jesus Guild, Prittlewell. The Jesus Guild of Prittlewell, given recognised status by Royal Licence (Edward IV), with this came the first permanent school, the Guildhouse School, which was an elementary school, to educate boys and poor parents. the guild survived until 1548 when it was suppressed. the school however lasted until 17th Century. 1481 The earliest recorded use of South End as a place name is in a will of this year, where it is given as “Sowthende.” The Minister’s accounts 1535-36 (in the reign of Henry VIII), listing the possessions of the Priory in Prittlewell when it was suppressed in 1536, mentions several properties in “Sothende” or “Southende.” 1509 Font built in St Mary's Church to commemorate the marriage of Henry VIII with Catherine of Aragon. 1530 Anne Boleyn resident at Rochford Hall. 1536 Suppression of the Priory at Prittlewell. 1565 First Customs Officer appointed at Leigh-on-Sea. 1573 Controversy erupted between the citizens of Leigh and London over the subject of beer. The outcome of the argument was that it was solemnly decreed that Leigh could have from London four tuns (tun is double the size of a butt or eight barrels) of beer a week. 1579 The first of many ships built at Leigh was the “Speedwell” a ship of 105 tonnes was built. 1588 The Armada. Leigh was an important Naval Base and an armed force was established to protect the seaport. 1604 – 16 Rev. Samuel Purchas, author of “Purchas: his Pilgrimes”, Vicar of Eastwood, records Battell’s Travels. 1592 Humpfrey Browne died, the first known owner of Porters. At the time of the Spanish Armada, Leigh was allocated a special defence force. In 1592 Leigh was one of four English ports at which troops embarked for the invasion of Normandy, and in 1598, 1,000 troops embarked at Leigh for France. 1594 John Norden's map shows Leghe one of the earliest spellings of Leigh. It later became known as 'the Lee'. John Gerard, herbalist to James I, writes much of the plants he found at 'Lee in Essex' where he often rambled. 1604 Rev. Samuel Purchas, author of 'Purchas his Pilgrimes', Vicar of Eastwood, records Battell’s Travels. 1609 Mary Ellis died on 3rd June, a well known and much loved resident of Old Leigh who lived to the remarkable age of 119. Her tomb in a block shape with a plinth on top was used by the press gangs to sharpen their sabres prior to conscripting the young lads in the church congregation, it is thought the actions of these swords on the top of the tomb are still visible. 1610 Andrew Battell, a Leigh seaman, was the first European to travel in Central Africa, who returned to Leigh after 21 years’ absence in Africa and America. 1616 Masters of Trinity House Discovered In 1940 when Southend Council started to remove some age old dwellings in Old Leigh, they discovered behind centuries of wallpaper and coverings some oak panelling dating back to Tudor times. These particular row cottages were part of the dowry of Anne Boleyn on her marriage to Henry VIII and, from about 1615 were occupied by Richard Chester, a Master of Trinity House. Discovered behind the panelling were found two prayer books in white hide and hand written on vellum: the prayers of Trinity House dated 1616. 1620 Leigh House (formerly Blacke House), Leigh-on-Sea was built. The “Mayflower” moored in Leigh before sailing to the New World. 1620 – 30 Canvey Island drained by the Dutch. 1652 After the first two battles of the Dutch Wars, Admiral Van Tramp inflicted grave damage on Admiral Blake's Fleet off the Goodwin Sands, it was to Leigh that he brought his crippled ships for refitting. 1653 In February, Blake sailed from the Thames with sixty warships and defeated the Dutch admiral, Van Tromp, in the English Channel. 1666 An officer of customs reported that wreckage from a warship had floated ashore at Southend. This was probably from the man-o'-war 'London' which blew up off Southend in March 1665, whilst being taken from Chatham to Tilbury, to be prepared for commission. Three hundred of her crew drowned. Prittlewell suffered along with nearby London with the terrible impact of the plague. St Mary's Church buried some 43 parishioners this year, the marked increase attributed to the deadly plague. 1667 Samual Pepys in his Diary made an entry about Leigh on July 17th. He wrote: "My sister Michell came from Lee to see us; but do tattle so much of the late business of the Dutch coming tither that I am weary of it. She saw the Royal Charles brought into the river by them, and how they shot off their great guns for joy when they got her out of Chatham River." 1668 Thorpe Hall is built in a Tudor style, and today is preserved and looked after by Thorpe Bay Golf Club. 1672 Sir Richard Haddock won distinction during one of the battles of the Dutch War, it was also at this time the English Fleet's headquarters were based in the Thames Estuary. 1695 Peter boat, Leigh, built on the side of a weather boarded inn. 17th – 18th Century Prominence of Leigh and Leigh seamen in naval history and Dutch Wars. Among these were members of the Salmon, Haddock and Goodlad families. Captain William Haddock (1607 – 1667) served with distinction against the Dutch, and was awarded a gold medal by the Commonwealth Govt. (1649 – 1660) for his services. His son, Admiral Sir William Haddock (1629 – 1715), became Comptroller of the Navy. Robert Salmon and William Goodlad, both Masters of Trinity House, took prominent parts in the Greenland Whale Fisheries, the latter commanding the Greenland Company’s fleet for twenty years. 1700 c1700. A fisherman named Joseph Outing discovered by accident that the foreshore of the adjoining manor of Southchurch was good feeding and fattening ground for oysters. He secured a lease of part of the that foreshore and started what soon was to become a prosperous local industry in oyster cultivation. The first group of buildings near the shore at Southend were the huts erected by Joseph Outing for the use of his men and for the storage of their gear. The Local Oyster Industry For centuries the oyster has been associated with Essex. As early as 1434, Chalkwell Manor was granted the right to maintain the oyster-beds, and cultivation continued until about 1890. Prior to the eighteenth century, how ever, there was little or no real scientific application to their cultivation in Essex waters, but early in that century Colchester began to give thought to the possibilities. Local cultivation at Southchurch began by mere chance when a fisherman named Joseph Outing threw overboard some small oysters. Later he discovered that they had thrived and had gained much in size. He experimented and came to the conclusion that cultivation was worth while at this site, so obtained a lease. Outing did well and his success was followed by that of other men along the foreshore. As a result of continually improving methods of cultivation, they prospered. Demand was considerable with the result that large quantities of young oysters had to be imported from other parts of England, and from the north west coast of France in order to maintain the Southchurch beds. The Essex oyster trade reached such dimensions in the north bank of the Thames that it aroused the envy of the oyster-men in Kent. Rivalry concerning estuary oysters had persisted then for some time. In 1724, a great raid was made on the “South End” oyster beds by five hundred fishermen from Milton, Queensborough and Faversham, headed by Capt. Evans, M.P., Mayor of Queensborough, in a fleet of sloops and small craft, in endeavour to force their claim that the beds were public property. Local Magistrates mustered all the parish constables of the Rochford Hundred, and through reading of the Riot Act on the beach, there was fortunately no violence. During the next ten or eleven days the Kentish men set to work, in consequence of which the beds were seriously depleted and damaged. On one day alone, five large sloops of this Kentish Armarda carried off full loads of oysters to sell in London. In the following year three actions for trespass were brought against the raiders the first by Outing, a second by William Hutton of Leigh, and the third by another person holding a lease of the foreshore off Southend. The first two actions were held at Brentwood, when Outing and Hutton were awarded damages and costs. The local oyster-men also won the third case, which was heard at Westminster. The raid of the Kentish Armada cost the Kent men more than £7,000, but the result settled beyond any doubt the rights of the north coast oyster-men. The private fisheries of the Essex coast were developed and the foreshore opposite Southchurch and Old Southend provided important fattening grounds. In 1770, extensive oyster beds were laid at Milton, and although these were abandoned about 1830, cultivation continued at Southchurch until about 1895. By then, ceaseless dredging had rooted out the oysters until only two banks of any great size survived in the Rochford Hundred, one on the River Crouch and the other on the River Roach. The contamination of oyster-beds through sewage seriously affected the trade, and gradually caused the extinction of the industry off Southend. 1738 Arrival of new owners to Southchurch Hall, the Asser family bought the 'pile' from the Earl of Nottingham. The Asser family remained as strong members of the community and stones commemorating them are in place at Holy Trinity Church in Southchurch Boulevard. 1748 John Wesley founder of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection arrived in Leigh on Monday 21st November, preaching Methodism to a large gathering and returning six more times to the town until 1756. 1758 By now Southend was in a single rating, comprising the Ship Hotel, recently rebuilt, Old Brewery Road, Pleasant Row and Marine Parade. 1767 John Remnant builds a row of cottages in front of the Oystermen’s huts in Pleasants Row. Two years later it is recorded that Southend had thirteen cottages and a house, which later became the Ship Hotel. 1768 First mention of Southend for sea - bathing. 1771 The second Crow stone erected by Lord Mayor Brass Cosby. 1772 1772-1774. The name South End appears on Chapman and André’s map, this is probably the earliest map on which it is to be found. 1780 Southend (village) had nineteen houses. 1786 Prittlewell Parish builds a workhouse, and here the unfortunate people of South End and Prittlewell were confined and made to work. 1790 The Duke of Clarence hotel was built on what is now the High Street, later became Clarence House, a house where Dr. Jones lived. A timber building called “The Laboratory” was built, for crystallising salt from sea water. The Duke of York hotel was built on what is now the High Street, later became the centre for Mr. Woosnam’s wine business. 1791-1792 Construction of Grand (Royal) Hotel and Terrace. New hotel for a growing town. Royal Terrace and Hotel were built, by Thomas Holland. The hotel was the most expensive in the town, wanting to attract the wealthier day visitor, but the average east-ender at the time could not afford it, which did the Hope and other hotels around no harm at all. 1793 The Minerva Hotel was built in 1793 by a well known proprietor of barges; Abraham Vandervoord, who is buried in St John the Baptist Church graveyard. The building however was originally called 'The Great House'. It was regularly used in its early life by the Courts of the Manor of Prittlewell. The Shrubbery, the oldest of all the parks in Southend, became privately owned in 1793 until 1883, when it was acquired by the town. It consists of merely 3 acres but provides visitors a relaxing walk through shaded paths from Clifftown Terrace down to the seafront on Western Esplanade. 1795 The Caroline cold and warm sea water baths opened. Brighton and Margate had the march on a young seaside town such as Southend. There offer at the time would be in the shape of baths that would not only provide non-tidal water entertainment but some supposed healing qualities. Not surprisingly therefore along the newly emerging South End seafront, just east of the Hope and Ship pubs opened a new baths named after a new Princess Caroline who had just married the King. A few years later she would grace the town with its first Royal visit. Grand Ball, the Capital (Royal) Hotel on top of Pier Hill had undergone extensive modification which included an extension which would make it the plushest of hotels for many miles around. To celebrate the completion of the works and in good businessman-like fashion a Grand Ball was held on 8th July which provided a night of entertainment for 170 guests. 1797 The Napoleonic Wars brought about a real threat of attack to the eastern coast by the French, a new military district was set up with the headquarters based in Southend, and a strong naval force under Admiral Nelson was stationed at the Nore. Mutiny on the Nore. Great excitement and uneasiness prevailed owing to the outbreak of a mutiny among seamen of the Fleet stationed at the Nore, then preparing for operations against the Dutch. The revolt first occurred at Portsmouth, and was appeased, but it broke out again in a more serious form in the Thames. The mutineers, led by a seaman, named Parker, dispossessed the officers of their commands; the ships were moored in a line from Southend to Sheerness and intercourse with London stopped. The mutineers are said to have frequently come ashore at Southend and visited the 'Ship' although the East Norfolk Militia were encamped at Great Wakering at the time to prevent sailors of the rebel fleet landing. Lack of provisions caused the men to raid the farm houses of Kent and Essex, and this scarcity, with the impossibility of the men being able to navigate their own vessels, brought about the surrender of the mutineers. Parker was hanged and eighteen of the others were shot. Several ships subsequently formed part of the British fleet which shattered the Dutch Navy at Camperdown, the spirit and gallantry of the men being highly praised.

Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea

Southend-on-Sea
The History of a Seaside Town

Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea © 2010 - 2021 P. J. Wren. All Rights Reserved.

HISTORY
GALLERIES 1
GALLERIES 2
AUTHORS/PHOTOGRAPHY
WEBSITE INFO
SOUTHEND WATER CO
MISCELLANEOUS
2000 B.C. - 1st Cent. A.D.
HISTORY cont
GALLERIES 1 cont
Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea