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Prittlewell is an area of Southend-on-Seamarker in Essex. Historically, Prittlewell is the original town, Southend being the south end of Prittlewell.

Originally a Saxon village, Prittlewell is centred on St. Mary's Church, at the joining of its three main roads, East Street, West Street and Victoria Avenue (which was built over North Street in the late 1800s) which is the main Southend arterial road. Along this road lies Southend's main administration centres, however Prittlewell is mainly a residential area.



People first settled by the Prittle Brookmarker around ten thousand years ago during the stone-age. Little appears to have affected life in Prittlewell as its population gradually evolved from their original character as hunter-gatherers to a more settled existence during the Bronze and Iron Ages.


The Roman occupation began to influence the area with the construction of a Roman-style dwelling, probably a farmhouse or villa close to the brook in what is now Priory Park. The introduction of new ideas, new skills and social structures under this Roman influence would have brought significant change to the area. The discovery of Roman burial sites during road and rail construction in the 1920s and 1930s indicated that the settlement was well developed and of some significance, although no prominent buildings were preserved.

Saxons and Vikings

Following the withdrawal of the Roman legions, the area came under the influence of Saxon raiders, over time becoming established as part of the kingdom of the East Saxons. During this time (largely the 5th and 6th centuries), the historic Saxon name of Prittleuuella came into being.

The construction works of 1923 and 1930 that revealed Roman burials also unearthed evidence of numerous Anglo-Saxon burials, a significant number of which were high-status or warrior burials containing weapons, imported goods, gold jewellery and decorative beads some of which were made out of glass.

Priory Park Gardens, Prittlewell
the 7th century, the return of Christianity to the East Saxons may have led to the building of a church on the hill to the south of the brook and spring. Within the current St. Mary's Church, a small arch in the north-east wall of the chancel is thought by some to be all that remains of the earliest stone building. However, there is opinion that the arch is of later construction, with that part of the current chancel dating from the early decades of the 11th century, having been built using materials from earlier constructions in the wider area of Prittlewell. Early clay tiles forming the top of the arch are thought to be of Roman origin, but the feature has not been formally dated.

Saxon rule continued until the Danes invaded in the 10th century. A Dane by the name of Sweyne acquired large areas of land in the area and remained during the Saxon restoration.


The high status of the area during the Anglo-Saxon period was confirmed by the discovery of a substantial and undisturbed 7th century chamber tomb in 2003. The unusually rich contents and their condition have excited archaeologists, being described as "unique" by the Museum of Londonmarker. A fuller description of the excavation and the artifacts of the burial chamber, thought to be of Saebert of Essex, can be seen at the dedicated Museum of London website.

(ref. Museum of London). The story of the excavation was also thought so significant as to be the subject of a special UK television documentary entitled The King of Bling, as part of the Time Team series.

Unfortunately, although the burial site is of archaeological importance, it is also earmarked as the route of a highly controversial road building project championed by Southend Borough Council in the face of very substantial local opposition. When funds become available, it is probable that the burial site and a significant part of the adjacent Priory Park will be consumed by a widening and straightening of a road constructed in 1923. It is ironic that the building of that original road led to the earlier discovery of Roman and Anglo-Saxon burial sites at Prittlewell.


After the Norman Conquest of 1066, Sweyne switched allegiances to William and increased his power. Under the feudal system he became Lord of the Manor: at the times of Domesday there were two manors in the area that is now Prittlewell — Prittlewell and Milton.

Around 1110, a Sweyne's successor, Robert Fitzsweyne, also known as Robert d'Essex, divided his manor in two, the part to the west being Prittlewell, the site of Earl's Hall and the rest, consisting of thirty acres (120,000 m²) of land, the church at Prittlewell, and also the chapels at Sutton and Eastwood, being given to the Cluniacmarker Priory of St Pancrasmarker, Lewesmarker for the purpose of setting up Prittlewell Priorymarker.

At this time the lands of the priory extended to right down to the seafront. Due to this, when a fishing settlement was set up two miles (3 km) south of the priory in the 14th century, it was still regarded as part of Prittlewell and as such was named Stratende, Sowthende or South-End. From this settlement the modern town of Southend-on-Sea grew.

Over a period of around two hundred years, St. Mary's Church was substantially enlarged, reaching its present size with the addition of its tower in the mid 15th century.


At the time of Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries, the priory, which had by this time developed into a sprawling complex, was closed and the lands seized by the crown.

19th century

Southend was developed as a bathing resort in the 18th century and by the 19th, Prittlewell was regarded by visitors to Southend as "an attractive village in the hinterland".

Links between Prittlewell and Southend were improved in 1889 a road was built between the village crossroads by the church to Southend, named Victoria Avenue and in 1892, when Prittlewell railway stationmarker was built on the Great Eastern Railway linking Southend and Londonmarker

Also 1892 saw the foundation of Southend-on-Sea as a municipal borough, which took over responsibility for Prittlewell from an earlier parish council.


Modern day Prittlewell stretches from the crossroads by the St Mary's Church to the airport on the boundary between Southend and Rochfordmarker.


Prittlewell compared
2001 UK Census Prittlewell ward Southend-on-Sea UA England
Population 9,478 160,257 49,138,831
Foreign born 6.1% 6.0% 9.2%
White 95.1% 95.8% 90.9%
Asian 2.8% 2.2% 4.6%
Black 0.5% 0.7% 2.3%
Christian 71.2% 68.7% 71.7%
Muslim 1.7% 1.2% 3.1%
Hindu 1.2% 0.6% 1.1%
No religion 16.2% 18.8% 14.6%
Unemployed 3.3% 3.7% 3.3%
Retired 16.5% 14.8% 13.5%
As of the 2001 UK census, the Prittlewell electoral ward had a population of 9,478. The ethnicity was 95.1% white, 1% mixed race, 2.8% Asian, 0.5% black and 0.6% other. The place of birth of residents was 93.9% United Kingdom, 0.8% Republic of Ireland, 1.2% other Western European countries, and 4.1% elsewhere. Religion was recorded as 71.2% Christian, 0.3% Buddhist, 1.2% Hindu, 0% Sikh, 1.1% Jewish, and 1.7% Muslim. 16.2% were recorded as having no religion, 0.3% had an alternative religion and 8.0% did not state their religion.

The economic activity of residents aged 16–74 was 39.5% in full-time employment, 12.6% in part-time employment, 9.6% self-employed, 3.3% unemployed, 2.3% students with jobs, 2.9% students without jobs, 16.5% retired, 6.3% looking after home or family, 4.5% permanently sick or disabled and 2.6% economically inactive for other reasons. The industry of employment of residents was 15.8% retail, 11% manufacturing, 8.1% construction, 11.6% real estate, 12.9% health and social work, 7% education, 6.2% transport and communications, 6.7% public administration, 2.8% hotels and restaurants, 11.7% finance, 0.7% agriculture and 5.5% other. Compared with national figures, the ward had a relatively high proportion of workers in finance and health and social work. Of the ward's residents aged 16–74, 14.4% had a higher education qualification or the equivalent, compared with 19.9% nationwide. According to Office for National Statistics estimates, during the period of April 2004 to March 2005 the average gross weekly income of households was £590, compared with an average of £650 in South East England.


Much of historical Prittlewell remains standing; the ruins of the priory remain visible in Priory Park as well as the manor house built there after the reformation; St. Mary's Church, containing architecture from Saxon times; A building recently restored following fire damage, thought to have been the village market hall, though more recently a bakery, now an estate agent appropriately named Tudor Estates; as well as a number of public houses.

The old priory and its grounds, which form Priory Park, were donated to the town of Southend by a prominent local benefactor, R.A. Jones, for use by the residents 'in perpetuity'. However, a part of this park, together with the adjoining Saxon burial site mentioned above, is currently (as of January 2006) under threat of development from a road widening scheme. A 'protest camp' has been established in opposition to this plan [77086]. The camp has been nicknamed 'Camp Bling' as a humorous reference to the gold items found at the site.


Prittlewell is home to Southend United Football Club in their Roots Hall ground.


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