The Stonebridge study area. The area outlined in yellow is where it is proposed to improve public access to the countryside and other heritage assets, although it proved necessary to carry out some contextual research across a larger area (shown in blue).

In the mid 19th century the study area looked very different as Southend-on-Sea had not yet extended into the area. The landscape consisted of extensive areas of mostly reclaimed marshland (shown here in green), and fertile dryland areas that were covered in a distinctive pattern of rectilinear fields and roads.

The area is rich in archaeology and history, such as the important church at Great Wakering. The Life of St Mildrith refers to a church (monasterium Wacrinense) at Great Wakering that was said to be the burial place of two Kentish princes (Aethelberht and Aethelred) in the late 7th century. Recent excavations to the east of the church have revealed evidence for occupation dating to this period, and a fragment of carved stone probably from this early medieval church is currently on display at Southend-on-Sea Museum.

Improving public access to the countryside: Stonebridge, near Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Professor Stephen Rippon

Southend-on-Sea is a large urban area in South East Essex that currently lacks much in the way of green open spaces. The Borough Council are therefore developing a strategy to enhance public access to an adjacent area of countryside in the Stonebridge area. Stephen Rippon was commissioned to study the history of the landscape in this area in order to inform the development of this initiative at its very early planning stage.



A full report on the history of the landscape in the Stonebridge area can be downloaded here: Stonebridge Park report [PDF]