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Essex ( ) is a county in the East of England region of the United Kingdommarker, although it is counted as one of the Home Counties. The county town of Essex is Chelmsfordmarker.


In pre-Roman Britain the territories of Suffolk and Essex were home to the Trinovantes tribe, which had grown wealthy through intensive trade with the Roman Empire, contemporary to the decline of Atlantic sea trade as roads and better in-land trade-routes were established in Romanized Gaul. Catuvellaunian and Trinovantian territory was the first to be annexed by the Roman Emperor Claudius in AD 43 when he began his invasion of Britain (Cunliffe, 2001).

Colchestermarker was the capital of the province of Britannia, but was attacked and destroyed during Boudica's rebellion in AD 61. Sometime after the destruction, Londonmarker became the capital of the province of Britannia.

The name Essex originates in the Anglo-Saxon period of the Early Middle Ages and has its root in the Old English Ēastseaxe (i.e. the "East Saxons"), the eastern kingdom of the Saxons. The East Saxon lands bordered those of the Angle peoples of East Angliamarker (the latter comprising Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire).

The Kingdom of Essex was traditionally founded by Aescwine in 527 AD, occupying territory to the north of the River Thames, incorporating much of what would later become Middlesexmarker and Hertfordshire, though its territory was later restricted to lands east of the River Lee. Colchestermarker in the north east of the county is Britain's oldest recorded town, dating back to before the Roman conquest, when it was known as Camulodunummarker, and was sufficiently well-developed to have its own mint.

Subsequently the Kingdom of Essex was subsumed into the Kingdom of England and Essex eventually became the historic county.

Essex County Council was formed in 1889. However, the County Borough of West Ham, and from 1915 the County Borough of East Hammarker, formed part of the county but were not under county council control. Vision of Britain - Essex admin county ( historic map) A few parishes were transferred to other counties at this time; parts of Haverhill, Kedington, and Ballingdon-with-Brundon went to Suffolk, and Great & Little Chishill and Heydon to Cambridgeshire. Southend-on-Seamarker also formed a county borough from 1914 to 1974.

The boundary with Greater Londonmarker was established in 1965 when East Hammarker and West Ham county boroughs and the Barkingmarker, Chingfordmarker, Dagenham, Hornchurchmarker, Ilfordmarker, Leytonmarker, Romfordmarker, Walthamstowmarker and Wanstead and Woodfordmarker districts were transferred to form the London boroughs of Barkingmarker, Haveringmarker, Newhammarker, Redbridgemarker and Waltham Forestmarker. Essex became part of the East of England Government Office Region in 1994 and was statistically counted as part of that region from 1999, having previously been part of the South East England region. In 1998, the districts of Southend-on-Seamarker and Thurrockmarker were separated from the shire county of Essex becoming unitary districts.

The highest point of the county of Essex is Chrishall Common near the village of Langleymarker, close to the Hertfordshiremarker border, which reaches .


The county of Essex is divided into a number of local government districts. They are Harlowmarker, Epping Forest, Brentwoodmarker, Basildonmarker, Castle Point, Rochfordmarker, Maldon, Chelmsfordmarker, Uttlesfordmarker, Braintreemarker, Colchestermarker, Tendring, Thurrockmarker, and Southend-on-Seamarker. The last two boroughs are unitary authorities which form part of the county for various functions such as Lord Lieutenant but do not come under county council control. Essex Police also covers the two unitary authorities.

The Ceremonial County of Essex, an area including the unitary authorities ennumerated above, is bounded:

County Council

The county council was formed in 1889, and it meets at the County Hall, in Chelmsfordmarker. Before 1938, it regularly met in Londonmarker near Moorgate, which had been more convenient than any place in the county. It currently has 75 elected councillors. Before 1965, the number of councillors reached over 100. The County Hall, which dates largely from the mid-1930s, and is decorated with fine artworks of that period, mostly the gift of the family who owned the textile firm, Courtaulds, was made a listed building in 2007. The Essex County Council is currently controlled by the Conservative Party. The chairman of the county council 2006-08 was Gerard McEwen of Norton Mandeville near Ongarmarker, and since May 2008, Elizabeth ("Bonnie") Hart, of Hockley.

In November 2008, the council advertised in the European Journal for a private sector "delivery partner" to provide a wide range (and potentially all) of its services. The value of such a contract could amount to £5.4 billion. The arguments advanced in favour of such a step include better service quality and greater efficiency. However, critics including the council's opposition leader have complained of zero consultation before launching this procurement. The council nevertheless hopes to choose a partner before the elections scheduled for June 2009.

The County Council has until recently had a partnership with the British Telecom company which has generated a debate locally about the effectiveness of such arrangements. In January 2009, the council's cabinet decided to terminate this contract early. The trade union Unison has questioned the council's competence in managing major private sector contracts. Press reports indicate that BT are considering taking legal action against the council. Unison estimate that the cost to the taxpayer of early termination could be as much as £50m.

The political composition of the county council is as follows.

Year Conservatives Labour Liberal Democrats Residents' association Independent
2009 60 1 12 1 1

Population and settlement

The plaza of the new town of Basildon.
The pattern of settlement in the county is diverse. The London Green Belt has effectively prevented the further sprawl of London into the county, although it contains the new towns of Basildonmarker and Harlowmarker, originally developed to resettle Londoners following the destruction of London housing in World War II but since much expanded. Epping Forestmarker also acts as a protected barrier to the further spread of London.

Because of its proximity to Londonmarker and the economic magnetism which that city exerts, many of Essex's settlements, particularly those on or within driving distance of railway stations, function as dormitory towns or villages where London workers raise their families. Essex is known for being the origin of the political term Essex man, and of the Essex girl joke.

Part of the south east of the county, already containing the major population centres of Southendmarker and Thurrockmarker, is within the Thames Gatewaymarker and designated for further development. Parts of the south west of the county such as Buckhurst Hillmarker and Chigwellmarker are contiguous with Greater Londonmarker and are included in the Greater London Urban Areamarker. A small part of the south west of the county (Sewardstonemarker), is the only settlement outside Greater Londonmarker to be covered by a London postal district postcode (E4marker). To the north of the Green Belt, with the exception of major towns such as Colchestermarker and Chelmsfordmarker, the county is rural, with many small towns, villages and hamlets largely built in the traditional materials of timber and brick, with clay tile or thatched roofs.

See also List of places in Essex

Transport in Essex

The main airport in Essex is the London Stansted Airportmarker, serving destinations in Europe and North America. Southend Airportmarker, once one of Britain's busiest airports, is undergoing rebuilding, but it still has limited passenger flights to destinations such as the Channel Islands. There are several smaller airfields, some of which owe their origins to Air Force Bases built during World War I or World War II. These are popular for pleasure flights or flying lessons. Examples of these airfields include the Clactonmarker Airfield, the Earls Colne Airfieldmarker, and the Stapleford Aerodromemarker.

The Port of Tilburymarker is one of Britain's three major ports, while the port of Harwichmarker links the county to the Hook of Hollandmarker and Esbjergmarker. A service to Cuxhavenmarker closed in December 2005. Plans have been put forward to build the UK's largest container terminal at Shell Havenmarker in Thurrockmarker and although opposed by the local authority and environmental and wildlife organisations now seem increasingly likely to be developed.

Despite the existence of the Dartford Road Crossingmarker to Dartfordmarker, Kentmarker, across the Thames River, a ferry for pedestrians to Gravesend, Kentmarker, still operates from Tilburymarker during limited daily hours, and there are ferries for pedestrians that are operating across some of Essex County's rivers and estuaries during the spring and summer months.

The M25 motorwaymarker and M11 motorway both cross the county, and the A12marker and A13 trunk roads are important radial routes from London. There is an extensive public transport network.

The main railroad routes in Essex include two lines from the City of Londonmarker to Southend-on-Seamarker, operated by c2c from the Fenchurch Street railway stationmarker (including a route via Tilbury) and the National Express East Anglia from the Liverpool Street stationmarker, the Great Eastern Main Line from Liverpool Street connecting Harwich and onwards into Suffolk County and Norfolk County, and the West Anglia Main Line from Liverpool Street linking to Stansted and onwards into Cambridgeshire. The Epping Forest district is served by the London Underground Central Line. The routes operated by National Express East Anglia (formerly known as "One") and c2c, are both owned by National Express. There are also a number of branch lines including; the Sunshine Coast Line linking Colchestermarker to the seaside resorts ofClacton-on-Seamarker and Walton-on-the-Nazemarker. And the Crouch Valley Line linking Wickfordmarker to a number of riverside communities via South Woodham Ferrersmarker and Burnham-on-Crouchmarker to Southminstermarker.

South Essex Rapid Transit

South Essex Rapid Transit (SERT) is a proposed public transport scheme which would provide a fast, reliable public transport service in, and between, Thurrock, Basildon and Southend. SERT buses would have priority at traffic lights and would also have dedicated lanes where possible. A planned opening in 2012 is dependent on approval of £53 million from central government as well as additional funding from other sources.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Essex at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of Pounds Sterling.
Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 11,422 282 3,424 7,716
2000 14,998 205 4,335 10,458
2003 18,588 258 5,158 13,172

Industry and commerce

The Lakeside Shopping Centremarker at Thurrockmarker was one of England's first out-of-town shopping centres, which remains popular despite congestion on the nearby M25 motorway and direct competition from Bluewater Shopping Centremarker.

Industry is largely limited to the south of the county, with the majority of the land elsewhere being given over to agriculture. Harlow is a centre for electronics, science and pharmaceutical companies, while Chelmsford is the home of Marconi (now called telent plc and owned by Ericsson of Sweden since 2005), and Brentwood home to the Ford Motor Company's European HQ. Loughtonmarker is home to a production facility for British and foreign banknotes. Chelmsford has been an important location for electronics companies since the industry was born, and is also the location for a number of insurance and financial services organisations, and is the home of the soft drinks producer Britvic. Other businesses in the county are dominated by light engineering and the service sector.Colchester is a garrison town, and the local economy is helped by the army's personnel living there.


Education in Essex is substantially provided by three authorities being Essex County Council and the two unitary authorities, Southend-on-Seamarker and Thurrockmarker. In all there are some 90 state secondary schools provided by these authorities, the majority of which are comprehensive, although one in Uttlesfordmarker, two in Chelmsfordmarker, two in Colchestermarker and four in Southend-on-Seamarker are clearly selective. There are also two Public Schools providing secondary education in Essex.

County emblems

The County's coat of arms comprises three Saxon seax knives (although looking rather more like scimitars) arranged on a red background; the three-seaxe device is also used as the official logo of Essex County Council having been granted as such in 1932.The emblem was attributed to Anglo-Saxon Essex in Early Modern historiography. The earliest reference the arms of the East Saxon kings was by Richard Verstegan, the author of A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence (Antwerp, 1605), claiming that "Erkenwyne king of the East-Saxons did beare for his armes, three [seaxes] argent, in a field gules". There is no earlier evidence substantiating Verstegan's claim, which is an anachronism for the Anglo-Saxon period seeing that heraldry only evloved in the 12th century, well after the Norman conquest.John Speed in his Historie of Great Britaine (1611) follows Verstegan in his descriptions of the arms of Erkenwyne, but he qualifies the statement by adding "as some or our heralds have emblazed".

The traditional county flower of Essex is the cowslip (Primula veris), locally known as the paigle or peggle, and frequently mentioned in the writings of Essex bucolic authors such as Samuel Bensusan and C. H. Warren. In 2002, the Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) was named the county wildflower after a poll of residents (which excluded the cowslip) by the plant conservation charity Plantlife.

Samuel Bensusan and others have suggested that if Essex had a county bird, it would be the lapwing (known locally as the peewit) whose lonely cry characterises the Essex marshes known as saltings.

Most English counties have nicknames for people from that county, such as a Tyke from Yorkshiremarker and a Yellowbelly from Lincolnshiremarker; the traditional nickname for a person from Essex is an Essex Calf, so named because the county was famous for rearing beef cattle for sale in London meat markets; calves from the county were famed for their large size and known as 'Essex lions'.


In the 1980s and 1990s the term Essex Girl became a popular pejorative punch-line in British popular culture. The term being similar to the American, Jersey Girl.


Essex is home to two Football League One clubs, and , and Essex County Cricket Club.

Cultural references

"Essex Dogs" was the title of a 1997 Blur song.Essex Boys was the title of a 2000 film starring Sean Bean about the demise of a group of Essex gangsters.

Essex Wives was an 2002 LWT reality TV series starring Jodie Marsh.

The satirical puppet show Spitting Image once produced a song titled "Essex is Crap", claiming it was the only UK county with no redeeming features, and describing it as "a boil on the bum of the nation" and "where page 3 girls buy their mum a bungalow".


Over 14,000 buildings have listed status in the county, and around 1000 of those are recognised as of Grade I or II* importance. The buildings range from the 7th century Saxon church of St Peter-on-the-Wallmarker, to the Royal Corinthian Yacht Clubmarker which was the United Kingdom's entry in the "International Exhibition of Modern Architecture" held at the Museum of Modern Artmarker in New York City in 1932.

Image:St_Peter-on-the-Wall_ext.jpg|The church of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Seamarker.Image:Royal Corinthian Yacht Club Burnham-on-Crouch.jpg|The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham-on-Crouchmarker.Image:Thaxted guildhall.JPG|Thaxtedmarker Guildhall dating from around 1450.Image:AudleyEndHouse.JPG|The 17th century Audley End Housemarker in Saffron Waldenmarker.Image:Snowykeepsm.jpg|The Grade I listed Hedingham Castlemarker.


River Blackwatermarker /River Brain /River Canmarker /River Chelmermarker / River Colnemarker / River Crouch / River Lee / River Rodingmarker / River Stortmarker /River Stourmarker /River Thames

Places of interest

Notable persons

Sister counties and regions

See also

Notes and references

External links

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