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County of Essex

The Kingdom of East Seaxe (East Saxons), now known as Essex was traditionally founded by Aescwine in 527 AD. Occupying territory to the north of the River Thames and incorporating much of what would later become Middlesex and Hertfordshire, its territory was later restricted to lands east of the River Lee.

It is through this origin as one of the ‘Saxon’ kingdoms that the County of Essex is specifically not part of the region known as East Anglia (the latter comprising Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire), settled by tribes calling themselves 'Anglian'.

In the north east of Essex you will find Colchester, Britain's oldest recorded town. Dating back to before the Roman conquest, it was known as Camulodunon and was sufficiently well-developed to have its own mint.

In 1889 Britain saw the formation of Essex County Council. However, the County Borough of West Ham and from 1915 the County Borough of East Ham also formed part of the county but were not under County Council control. Southend-on-Sea also formed a county borough from 1914 to 1974. The boundary between the County of Essex and Greater London was established in 1965 when East Ham and West Ham county boroughs and the Barking, Chingford, Dagenham, Hornchurch, Ilford, Leyton, Romford, Walthamstow, Wanstead and Woodford districts were transferred to form the London boroughs of Barking, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest; this area is known as Metropolitan Essex.

The County of Essex became part of the East of England Government Office Region in 1994 and was statistically counted as part of that region from 1999 having previously been part of the South East England region. In 1998 the districts of Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock separated from the Shire becoming unitary districts.


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