County of southeast England, which has contained the unitary authorities of Southend and Thurrock since April 1998.
Area 3,670 sq km/1,417 sq mi
Towns and citiesChelmsford (administrative headquarters), Basildon, Colchester, Harlow, Harwich (port), Clacton-on-Sea (resort)
Physical flat and marshy near the coast; richly wooded in the southwest; rivers: the Blackwater, Crouch, Colne, Lee, Stour, and Thames
Features former royal hunting ground of Epping Forest (2300 ha/5680 acres, controlled from 1882 by the City of London); since 1111 at Little Dunmow (and later at Great Dunmow) the Dunmow flitch (side of cured pork) can be claimed every four years by any couple proving to a jury they have not regretted their marriage within the year (winners are few); Stansted, London's third airport; new Roman Catholic cathedral at Brentwood (designed by Quinlan Terry), dedicated in 1991
Agriculture cereals (wheat), fruit, sugar beet; livestock rearing, dairy products; oysters
Industries brewing, car components, cement, engineering, food processing, oil products
Population (2001) 1,310,800
Famous people William Gilbert (discovered magnetic ores), William Harvey (discovered the role of the heart in circulation of the blood), Joseph Lister (inventor of antiseptic), Gerard Manley Hopkins (poet), John Ray (botanist)
Topography Essex is bounded by Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north; by the North Sea in the east; by the River Thames, Thurrock and Southend in the south, and by Greater London and Hertfordshire to the west. The Tilbury and Victoria and Albert Docks of the Port of London are on the Thames in the south of the county. Harwich is the port for continental traffic. Much of the southern half of the county is now a dormitory area for London commuters.
History The Saxons were defeated by the Vikings at the Battle of the Maldon in 991.
Historic buildings The abbey at Waltham is reputedly the oldest Norman building in England. Founded in 1030, it was enlarged by King Harold in 1060.
Essex County Council Web Site
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