The Early Days
The name and importance of Southend being of comparatively modern origin, the early story of the locality is bound up with the mother village, Prittlewell, with the port of Leigh and the two adjacent manors of Milton Hall and Southchurch, which belonged to the group of estates which contributed to the support of the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury. It is now the largest parish in Rochford Hundred and in the earliest days was mainly devoted to agriculture. Prittlewell was always a comparatively important unit of population in the Hundred, but it never became an administrative centre such as Rayleigh, Rochford and Hadleigh, or a busy seaport as Leigh. Archaeological discoveries afford evidence of human occupation of the Southend Area from the earliest times. A gravel pit in Prittlewell has yielded a roughly chipped hand axe, fashioned by men of the Old Stone Age in long far off days long before the Thames flowed in its present channel, and similar discoveries have been made at Rochford and Shoebury. In the New Stone Age there seems to have been a regular factory for the making of flint implements on the north bank of the Crouch at Hullbridge, and this may well have been continued long after the introduction of bronze. At about the same time there was a settlement at Thorpe Bay of men whose food consisted chiefly of shell fish, and whose manner of life has been studied in the refuse heaps they left behind them. Travelling founders, the “tinkers” of the Bronze age, have left hoards of metal and implements buried, for concealment and safety, at Leigh, Prittlewell and Shoebury, while at Canewdon several large, well shaped urns used for cremation burials in Celtic or Iron Age times have been found. with the advent of the Romans the story of the countryside becomes somewhat clearer. In the neighbourhood of Hastings Road, at Leigh Hall and adjacent sites there have been numerous discoveries of Roman pottery; near to Prittlewell Priory, close to the Prittle Brook, distinct evidence of a settlement in Roman times, pottery, large quantities of tiles and a leaden coffin were uncovered. At Shoeburyness a Roman kiln was unearthed by brick workers and other finds of similar nature, or of coins of the period, point to the existence of an extensive colony on the north bank of the river during some part of the Roman occupation. It is Believed also that the Romans linked up this corner of South East Essex by a road system subsidiary to the main routes of the county. They constructed a thoroughfare from Southend, or hereabouts to Maldon, crossing the the Crouch at Hullbridge by a stout bridge, the last remains of which disappeared at the hands of an irate barge owner in the middle 1800s. There were also roads leading out of the Hundred through Pitsea and Rayleigh. The name “Strathende” may possibly indicate the existence of one of the smaller Roman roads leading to the coast and joining this district to Maldon. For some reason or another, perhaps encroachment by the sea or fear of Saxon pirates; the population dwindled and historians have assumed that the main attack upon Essex was launched by the Saxons from the Stour in North Essex and not from the Thames side, but the discovery of Saxon military burials north east of Prittlewell suggest that Saxon occupation was much earlier and more martial than has been thought.

1822 Southend

Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea

The History of a Seaside Town
Old Town Southend-on-Sea

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Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea