Local history

Some historical information on the borough of Thurrock

Many of the towns and villages in Thurrock are of ancient origin. Many stretch back to the Saxon period (and beyond), and are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Some villages still retain the name of their Saxon lords, chiefs, and families. For instance, Fobbing means 'the settlement of the people of Fobba'; Corringham means 'the settlement of the people of Curra' and Mucking means 'the settlement of the people of Mucca'.

Other names are derived from the landscape. Chadwell means 'the cold well'; Stifford means 'a forked path across a river' (a ford); Stanford , 'a stony ford'; Horndon , 'a horn-shaped hill' (the 'on-the-Hill' got added later); with Langdon meaning the 'long hill' (again the 'Hill' addition got added later).

The 'le-Hope in Stanford-le-Hope was also a later addition (1600s) and is thought to have come from the name of the local stretch of the Thames 'a bay at the winding of a river', or from a marshy field area, or land-locked inlet. In one reference Horndon-on-the-Hill is recorded as 'Horndon-of-ye-Hill-le-Hope' (1600s), combining several elements.

Some names such as Tilbury - recorded as Tilaburg as long ago as the 8 th century - comes from both the name of a chief and that of a fortified place (a burh), thus meaning Til(l)a's fortified place. Similarly Bulphan means a fortified (burh) fenn (marsh).

Some names are from both people and places: Aveley is thought to have been derived from a woman's name (Aelfgyth) and 'leah', a meadow: 'The Meadow of Aelfgyth' (very 'Lord of the Rings').

The name Thurrock itself is thought to derive from the ' saxon word 'Turruc', meaning the bottom of a ship where water collects, referring to the winding shape of the Thames around the borough.

As noted above, names get added to, in one case, as the local lords change. Grays Thurrock, comes in a little later, taking its name from Henry de Grai, a Norman lord who was granted the manor by Richard the Lionheart in 1195.

Orsett possibly describes a heath where small deposits of Ore were found as long ago as the bronze age.

Thurrock can also lay claim to many important historical events.

The Peasants Revolt - the uprising against the Poll Tax of 1381 - was sparked off by the peasants of Fobbing , Corringham and Stanford-le-Hope . Of the 145 rebels named as ringleader in the Essex uprising, no fewer than 28 came from Fobbing: recorded as being '. an astonishing number for a tiny village at the world's end out on the Marshes.' Some paid dearly, with their lives.

In 1558, a large army under Queen Elizabeth I were camped at Tilbury to defend London and England should the Spanish Armada defeat our navy. (Did Elizabeth I know that she was defending Tilla's old fortified place?). As we know our navy were supremely victorious (and lucky, with the weather). At Tilbury Queen Elizabeth I gave her rousing speech to the troops that has gone down in history, "I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king; and a king of England too .'

We have lost many great buildings from the borough like Ockendon's Belhus mansion , demolished in 1957, home of the Barrett Lennards, where only a wonderful park remains, although the fireplace can still be seen in Grays Museum . All that remains of the flint built Palace at Orsett of Bishop Bonner, is the motte and bailey. Belmont Castle was a gothic style residence built about 1795 for Zachariah Button, a wealthy local landowner. but it to was demolished in 1943.

But many survive such as the Woolmarket, Horndon's 16th century market hall, a lasting monument to the medieval wealth of East Anglia which rested on the wool trade. Coalhouse Fort is a fine example of a Victorian fort built in 1861-74 to protect the Thames and London from invasion. Sleepers Farm at the top of Chadwell Hill dates back to the 15th century. It gets its name from the Sleeper family who lived in Chadwell in the 14th and 15th century. The State Cinema is one of the few remaining examples of the picture palaces that were built all over the country. The organ is still in working order and can rise gracefully into the auditorium as it did to entertain the film goers from the late 1930s to the 1970s. Tilbury Fort was begun in the reign of Henry VIII . The present building was built between 1670 and 1683 with a magnificent gatehouse facing the river Thames.

This is but a brief tour of our borough, there is so much more to discover at either of these websites.