“British History Online” is a very big site which, as you might expect, has a lot of stuff on British History. For example, you can access all the text from ” A Topographical Dictionary of England”, originally published in 4 volumes in 1848. So if you are interested in local history, it is worth a look.
Here’s the entry for Rayleigh: . It’s not obvious what “The town is situated upon the shore of Hadleigh bay;” means – did Rayleigh really extend so far south then?
RAYLEIGH (Holy Trinity), a parish, and formerly a market-town, in the union and hundred of Rochford, S. division of Essex, 14 miles (S. E. by S.) from Chelmsford, and 34 (E. by N.) from London; containing 1651 inhabitants.
This place, which was once the head of an honour or barony, was after the Conquest in the possession of Sweyn or Swene, who built a castle here, some ruins of which, with earthworks and ditches, yet remain. The parish is on the road from London to Southend, and comprises 2874 acres, whereof 55 are common or waste; the surface is elevated, and the soil stiff and heavy, with portions of poorer land. The town is situated upon the shore of Hadleigh bay; a brewing and malting establishment affords employment to about fifty persons; a cattle-fair takes place on Trinity Monday and Tuesday.
The living is a rectory, valued in the king’s books at ?17. 17. 6.; net income, ?774; patron, R. Bristow, Esq. The church is an ancient and stately structure in the early English style, with a lofty embattled tower surmounted by a shingled spire. There is a place of worship for Baptists.
The entry for Rawreth is shorter, and perhaps someone can tell us what “commuting tithes “means!
RAWRETH (St. Nicholas), a parish, in the union and hundred of Rochford, S. division of Essex, 3 miles (N. W.) from Rayleigh; containing 387 inhabitants. It is bounded on the north by the river Crouch, over which is a bridge; and comprises 2367a. 3r. 23p., whereof 1967 acres are arable, 329 pasture, 31 common, 28 roads, and 11 water.
The living is a rectory, valued in the king’s books at ?20. 13. 4., and in the gift of Pembroke College, Cambridge: the tithes have been commuted for ?750, and the glebe comprises 45 acres. The church is a small ancient edifice, with a south aisle belonging to the lord of the manor of Beches.
The author seemed to quite like Canewdon:
CANEWDON (St. Nicholas), a parish, in the union and hundred of Rochford, S. division of Essex, 3? miles (N. E. by N.) from Rochford; containing 723 inhabitants. This parish, which is bounded on the north by the navigable river Crouch, derives its name from Canute the Dane, who held his court here.
It comprises 4857 acres of fertile land, and 652 of common or waste; the surface is finely varied, and the village is pleasantly situated on rising ground commanding an interesting view over the surrounding country. A fair is held on the 24th of June. Canewdon creek, which is navigable for small craft, is in the northern part of the parish.
The living is a vicarage, valued in the king’s books at ?34. 1. 8.; net income, ?495; patron, the Bishop of London; impropriator, Thomas Laver, Esq. The church is a large structure, in the later style of English architecture, with a massive western tower. A national school is partly supported by funds arising from land.