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The coat of arms for Essex stretches back into history. The name Essex means "Land of the East Saxons" and refers to the invasion and settlement in Britain by a race of people from Saxony, Germany. This occurred after the fall of the Roman Empire and before the Norman invasion of 1066. The Saxons settled mainly in Essex, Kent, and the London area, and their influence was strongest in 600-700AD - the years before the Viking incursions.
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The Doomsday Book survey shows that the land in Canewdon belonged to Sweyne. The village of Canewdon was built on a hill 128ft above the Crouch marshes. The name means 'The hill of Cana'a people'.
King Henry V is said to have built the church in thanks after his victory at the Battle of Agincourt. The church tower was built from grey ragstone. It is approximately 75ft high and apparently also served as a lighthouse. The doors, built of medieval timber bear the arms of Henry V. At the end of the churchyard stands the 'Lock Up' or the cage. This would have been seen on the village green. History has it that Canute's army set camp here in anticipation of the Battle of Assadune or Ashingdon.
The area has recognition as being the witchcraft centre, apparently always having six witches. It is said that when one witch dies, a stone will fall from the church.
There is a legend surrounding the church. It is said that at the stroke of midnight on the 31st October, if you run around the building three times anticlockwise you can travel back in time.
This 14th Century Church, with it's 15th Century Tower and Porch, stands on a hill, 128 feet above the marshes.
The oldest part of the Church is the outside wall of the North Aisle which contains many Roman bricks, presumably from an earlier building.
Legend has it that while the 75 foot tower stands, there will always remain six witches in Canewdon.
Karen and Lee were married in Canewdon Church on April 27th 1996, some pictures are here.
Once the Roman staging post of Durolitum, the town of Romford has always had its economy governed by major transport routes. Recent reappraisals of the Antonine itinerary have shown, together with archaeological evidence, that the settlement of Durolitum was somewhere in the vicinity of Romford. The Middle Ages saw the growth of this small hamlet to a market town. The leather industry, which originated in Hornchurch, found a ready market in the number of travellers using the old Roman road to Colchester and Norwich. In 1247 Henry III gave instructions to the Sheriff of Essex to hold a market every Wednesday, and this market still exists today.
A century and a half later the first St Edward’s Church was built in the Market Place, where the present church now stands. Irked by the distance it was necessary for them to travel to Mass in Hornchurch, the parish church of the Liberty, the people of Romford petitioned for a chapel nearer to the town. The first chapel, dedicated to St Andrew, was built at the east end of Oldchurch Road in 1177. This did not satisfy the Romford people, however, and another petition was submitted some years later, and in 1405 a new chapel was erected in the Market Place, dedicated to St Edward the Confessor. This became the new church, and the former chapel was known as the old church, a name perpetuated in that road and hospital today.
After the slow growth typical of most market towns, Romford found prosperity in the 19th century with the arrival of the Eastern Counties Railway in 1839. Originally designed with freight traffic in mind, this line soon saw an increase in passenger trains, and the age of the commuter had arrived. Industries came to central Romford and one which had already been in the town 40 years before the advent of the railway sadly closed its doors in 1993. Romford Brewery started in South Street at the end of the 18th century and its former premises in the High Street remain a monument to those early days.
From 1850 onwards the growth of Romford has been rapid, and the centre of town has grown out of all recognition. The only buildings more than 100 years old are the Golden Lion on the corner of High Street and North Street; the Church House in the Market Place, for some years the home of a chantry priest and recently restored to church use after some years as an inn; and the mid-19th century Lamb public house.
The names of some of Romford’s inhabitants are still well known. They include Francis Quarles, the 17th century poet, Sir Anthony Cooke, the Tudor court official and royal tutor, and Colonel Blood, the only man to steal the crown jewels, ran an apothecary’s shop in Romford Market at one stage in his career.
Karen and Lee lived in Romford (Lessington Avenue) for a number of years before moving to the USA. All the children spent their first years based in Romford, along with the two dogs Ben and Kyrie.
This now mainly urban area has probably seen more changes than any other part of the Borough. In the beginning it was the administrative centre for the royal estates, and the centre of the parish as well. From this it became a wealthy town in the Middle Ages, with its thriving leather trade, which at one time was reflected in the old name for the High Street, formerly known as Pelt Street.
In the First World War an aerodrome was established at Sutton’s Farm to combat the Zeppelin attacks on London. The pilot who first shot down one of these airships, Leefe Robinson, served for a time at Hornchurch. This aerodrome provided a massive part of the fighter defence in the Second World War.
The old parish of St Andrew’s was once a monastic establishment and its revenue was used by William of Wykeham to found New College, Oxford. The documents of Hornchurch Priory are some of the most detailed and comprehensive records we have of the Royal estates in the Middle Ages.
The old houses of Fairkytes and Langtons are still in existence, but a large number of the other houses and shops have disappeared from the area. The family of Elizabeth Fry lived for a time in Fairkytes, as did the Wedlake family, who brought industry to Hornchurch in the form of agricultural machinery. They invented several new methods of farming the land and were still in Hornchurch in 1937.
The name Hornchurch is thought to have derived from lead gutters or piping which stuck out from the side of the church like horns, but it has nothing to do with the bull’s head carved on the east end of the church.
Karen spent her childhood in Hornchurch.
Within the Urban District of Thurrock, which was created in 1936 and covers an area of around 36 square miles with the River Thames to the south, London to the west and Basildon to the east. Thurrock is situated in the south-west of Essex and borders the north bank of the River Thames. Thurrock is the gateway to London with easy access to both Kent and Essex via the M25 motorway.
Stanford Le Hope was once one of the country residences of Sir Harry Featherstonehaugh, Hassenbrook Hall, which is now in private hands. The church in the village also holds many plaques of Featherstone interest.
Lee spent his first number of years in Stanford-le-hope.