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Themes Explorers and Adventurers Nobel Prize Winners
Actors/Actresses and Directors Famous People Places of Interest
Anglo-Saxons and Danes Historic Events Prime Ministers
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Inventors and Scientists Royal Consorts and Heirs
Artists and Architects Monarchs World Heritage Sites
Composers National Parks Writers and Poets

Essex lies in eastern England and borders the north-east of London and the North Sea. In 1965 part of the county was incorporated into the new Greater London.

Towns include the county seat of Chelmsford.

Epping Forest lies in the county.

Anglo-Saxons and Danes
Anglo-Saxon Kings
Once formed the kingdom of the East Saxons, later becoming part of the kingdom of Wessex. The East Saxon kingdom reached from the river Thames in the south (on the other side of which lay the kingdom of Kent) to the river Stour in the north (which separated the kingdom from that of the East Angles).

The last Anglo-Saxon King Harold II was buried at Waltham Abbey after his defeat at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Designated an AONB in 1970, Dedham Vale protects an unspoilt and therefore rare example of a lowland river valley and its associated landscape. It stretches along the banks of the River Stour on the border to Suffolk, an area made famous by the paintings of John Constable.

Famous People
The highwayman Dick Turpin was born in Hempstead in 1705.

Historic Events

Important Events
In 1103 the first Augustinian priory in England, St Botolph's Priory, was built at Colchester. The Augustinians were a group of monastic orders based on the Rule of St Augustine and were founded in Italy and France in the middle of the previous century. Over the next three centuries the order established over 200 houses throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

Inventors and Scientists

The physician William Harvey was buried in the family vault at the church in the village of Hempstead in 1657. In 1628 he had published his groundbreaking research into the circulation of blood and the function of the heart, a work which contradicted the thinking of the day but proved to be correct.

William Harvey

The surgeon Joseph Lister was born in Upton in 1827. He revolutionised modern surgical methods in 1867 by introducing the system of using antiseptic during operations. By disinfecting the operating instruments the chance of infection was much reduced and this development enabled surgeons to perform more complicated procedures.

Nobel Prize Winners

The physicist Lord Rayleigh was born as John William Strutt at Langford Grove in 1842. In 1904 he was the first Englishman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery of argon. In 1919 he died at Witham.

Lord Rayleigh

Places of Interest

Cathedrals and Abbeys
St Botolph's Priory

Waltham Abbey

Royal Consorts and Heirs

House of Normandy
Queen to King Stephen the last Norman monarch to rule England, Matilda of Boulogne died at Hedingham Castle in 1152. They had married in 1125 and he ascended the throne in 1135. She was buried at Faversham Abbey in Kent where in 1154 her husband would also be buried.

House of Lancaster
Joan of Navarre died in 1437 at Havering-atte-Bower. She was buried alongside her husband Henry IV in Canterbury Cathedral in Kent. She had become his second wife in 1403 and was Queen until his death in 1413. They had no children.

Writers and Poets
The writer and natural philosopher Margaret Cavendish was born as Margaret Lucas in Colchester in 1623. In 1645 she married the Marquis of Newcastle, William Cavendish later becoming Duke and Duchess of Newcastle. Often ridiculed for her writing style and opinions she continued to publish unperturbed and was rewarded for her perseverance when in 1667 she became the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society, an event which would not be repeated for another 300 years. On her death in 1673 she was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Margaret Cavendish
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey

The Victorian poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, was born in 1844 in Stratford (now in Greater London).

Gerard Manley Hopkins

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
Inversnaid (1881)

The author of The Magus and The French Lieutenant's Woman John Fowles, was born in 1926 at Leigh-on-Sea.

John Fowles

I was born in 1927, the only child of middle-class parents, both English, and themselves born in the grotesquely elongated shadow, which they never rose sufficiently above history to leave, of that monstrous dwarf Queen Victoria. I was sent to public school, I wasted two years doing my national service, I went to Oxford; and there I began to discover I was not the person I wanted to be.
The Magus
- Opening lines of novel (1966)

The crime writer Dorothy L. Sayers died in Witham in 1957. One of the first women to have graduated from Oxford University in 1915 she wrote many detective stories featuring Lord Peter Wimsey.

Dorothy L. Sayers
Dorothy L. Sayers Society

County Links Genealogy in England

Genealogy Links

Family History Societies
East of London
Waltham Forest
Essex Society for Archaeology and History
Online Parish Clerk