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Facts

ESSEX

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FUN FACTS


Essex is the 11th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
Essex has the 7th highest population in England.
Essex is in 16th place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. Essex has a long history of Royal connections. Cunobelinus (read about him here) ruled from Colchester and this became the capital of Roman Britain, for a while. Rumour has it that King Canute lived in South Essex for a while. William the Conqueror stayed at Barking Abbey while the Tower of London was being built and Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne, died at Rochford Hall in 1543. In 1527, well before he divorced Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII stayed at Hedingham Castle and who should be with him but Anne Boleyn. Ingatestone Hall, Loughton Hall and St. Osyth Priory all had visits from Elizabeth I and in 1882 Queen Victoria visited High Beech in the royal forest of Essex and declared it to be "the people's forest". Today it is known as Epping Forest.

  3. Essex Eats
  4. Essex has been famous for certain foods since Roman times. The Romans loved the Oysters that are found around Brightlingsea and Mersea Island. They even towed them back to Italy behind special boats. Oysters are still farmed there and Owlbut and Richard went out on a oyster fishing boat to see how the shells are dredged up from the sea. Small ones are put back while the larger ones are then taken to the processing plant where they are cleaned and washed, before being sold to shops and restaurants around the country.

    Essex is also known for jam making in Tiptree, salt from Maldon and yet more shell fish with the famous cockle sheds at Leigh-on-Sea near Southend.

  5. Essex VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in Essex in the last 100 years:-
    Jamie Oliver (Chef), Dame Maggie Smith (Actress), Grayson Perry (Artist), Olly Murs (Singer), Rupert Grint (Actor played Ron Weasley), the late Rik Mayall (Comedian) and Harry Judd (Drummer with McFly).

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. Essex is home to the oldest recorded competition in England. This is the Great Dunmow Flitch Trials. It is a rather unusual competition in that married couples, from anywhere in the world, compete against each other before a panel of judges made up of 6 maidens and 6 bachelors. The couples have to prove to the judges that in the previous twelve months and a day they have not wished themselves unmarried again. The winners receive a Flitch of bacon. To those of you, like me, who have no idea what a Flitch is I can tell you, because I looked it up, that it is half a pig, cut longways.

    The trials are held every fourth year and are believed to date back to 1104 when the Lord and Lady of the Manor dressed themselves as humble folk and begged blessing of the prior a year and a day after their marriage. The prior was apparently so impressed that he awarded them a Flitch of bacon. There is also a reference to the Dunmow Flitch in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, written in the 14th century and one of the first books printed in England.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. It was 1688 and Britain was worried about a possible invasion by the Spanish. Forts all along the south and east coasts were strengthened. Tilbury Fort in Essex was one such place. However, it became more famous when, on 9th August 1588, Queen Elizabeth I rode into the fort on a white horse and made a very famous speech to the troops who were stationed there. The fort was on the banks of the River Thames, (funnily enough it still is) and it was thought the Spanish would try to sail their Armada of ships up the river to attack London. You can read about it all here and see the words the Queen used. In the end the fort didn't have to fire a single gun as the Armada was defeated elsewhere. Tilbury Fort can be visited today.

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. I have lived in Essex for 34 years of my life which, in 2020 as I write this, is just under half. The first time I remember going to Essex was in 1966 when some friends invited us to travel down to Clacton-on-Sea for a day out. We took two cars but as my father wasn't able to come with us, I drove our car. I was 17, hadn't yet passed my test but could drive with a qualified driver alongside me. However the qualified driver was my mother, who started driving in 1933 before any driving test was introduced. It was almost 100 miles there and another 100 back (obviously) to our home in North Harrow. I loved it though I can remember my mother constantly saying "not so fast, Richard". This was repeated for the next 29 years whenever she was in a car with me.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. Mistley in Essex is a fantastic place to see swans. I often go out with Richard to photograph the swans at Mistley but, if you go, do be careful because swans can be quite vicious, especially if they are protecting their chicks. The swans in England are called mute swans. There are five other types of swans around the world. The mute swan is England's largest bird and one of the heaviest flying birds in the world. Swans are white in colour but the young ones are grey to begin with and have brown feathers which disappear when they are about two years old. Adults weigh between 8kg and 10kg and have a wingspan of 2.25 metres. They eat underwater plants, as you can see clearly in one of the pictures we took below, and grass and cereal crops. The most famous story about a swan is the "The Ugly Duckling", a fairy tale by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. It was published in 1843 and if you haven't read it I suggest you try.

    During the reign of Elizabeth I swan meat was regarded as a luxury food and that is why, even today, all mute swans are owned by Queen Elizabeth II. The reigning monarch has the right to claim ownership of all swans swimming in open waters since the 12th century. Today swans are no longer eaten and are a protected species. There is an annual event on the River Thames called Swan Upping, where mute swans are rounded up, caught, ringed then released. This allows the swan population to be monitored.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into Essex check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at September 2020.