FEBRUARY 2005 Essex in History, Kenneth Neale, 1977, published by Phillimore, ISBN: 0850332923

COLCHESTER CASTLE: This Norman castle, built late 11th century, was purchased in 1727 as a wedding gift for Charles Gray, who later became an MP for Colchester

^ priories at Ingatestone, Audley End, Barking, St Osyth and Leez. To defend England from Napoleonic invasion 10,000 militiamen were once encamped at Danbury, with similar numbers at Weeley. The county had two local regiments and there were always several others in garrison at Colchester. Soldiers and their families migrated in and out, leaving many family history traces.

Our peasants were the most revolting, our martyrs easily punished and our witches enthusiastically hunted. Essex couples were commemorated by Chaucer: "For 600 years happily married couples have extolled their tranquil marriages to win the Dunmow Flitch." The clergy wrote acclaimed hymns, including The Day Thou Gavest Lord Has Ended and Onward Christian Soldiers. The Thurrock area provided respite from London's vapours and Samuel Pepys escaped from London's Great Fire at the World's End Pub. Jacobite prisoners languished in

Tilbury Fort. Old wooden-walled naval vessels moored along the Thames could still be seen in the 1960s, they once housed isolation patients, prisoners and wayward boys training for the navy. A little piece of England is preserved in the Jam Museum and Tea Rooms at Tiptree.

It spawned many nursery rhymes including Old King Coel, Humpty Dumpty and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. French Huguenots and Dutch immigrants fleeing persecution brought their skills to the wool and silk trades. The town is an army garrison and much of the city wall has survived.

Here is the longest pleasure pier in the world and the town at the South End of the ancient Cluniac Priory of Prittlewell, beside which a Saxon noble's burial chamber was recently unearthed. Artefacts are to feature at a new seafront museum. Visitors to Southend's Royal Terrace included Nelson, Lady Hamilton and Princess Charlotte, while Empress

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