If you are looking for a good website on local history, try essexpub.net. As the name implies , there’s a lot of material here on pubs – including pubs that have long since vanished, such as the Chequers and the Elephant and Castle in Rayleigh. (The Elephant and Castle is the reason why Castle Road is so named).
However , there’s plenty of other stuff as well – for example census figures for each parish for 1841. At that time Rochford Hundred had a population of 14,796. Prittlewell was the most populous parish, with a population of 2,339 (remember, this included Southend). Rochford came second with 1,772 and Rayleigh third with 1,551. Hawkwell had only 365 people- fewer than Canewdon, Foulness Island or Rawreth.
There are also descriptions of our towns and villages from various old directories. This entry is quite complimentary about Canewdon :
CANEWDON is a pleasant village, distant from Rochford 4 miles; its situation is elevated, and commands a beautiful and broad prospect over the country. The parish is extensive, containing from 4 to 5,000 acres of excellent land; and there are several elegant seats in the parish, well deserving of notice. The church is a substantial building, with a handsome tower, containing five bells. The number of inhabitants, by the last official returns, was 675.
On the other hand , can you guess which place this is?
XXXXXX is the adjoining parish to Hockley, and consists of a few straggling houses, situated on a level. The church is a plain building, with a spire; it presents nothing externally to command attention, nor does it contain anything remarkable.