Rochford, a small but ancient market and union town and a parish in Essex. The town stands on the river Roche, a confluent of the Crouch, which is navigable to Broomhills, within a mile of the town, and on the G.E.R. Extension from Shenfield to Southend, on which it has a station, 3 miles N from Southend, 6 E from Rayleigh, and 40 from London. It gave the title of Earl to the father of Queen Anne Boleyn, is a seat of petty sessions, and formerly was the seat of a county court now removed to Southend. The town, which is approached from the W through a fine avenue of elms and oaks upwards of a mile long, consists of four streets with rather irregularly-constructed houses, is well supplied with water and drained by public sewers, and has a head post office, two hanks, two chief inns, a police station, two bridges, a court-house, a corn exchange, a church, Congregational and Wesleyan chapels, almshouses for six persons, and a workhouse. The court-house was built in 1859 at a cost of nearly £3000, and is a handsome edifice. The corn exchange was built in 1866 at a cost of about £1000. The church stands about a quarter of a mile distant from the town, and is a building of stone in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, vestry, S porch, and a lofty embattled western tower of brick bearing the Boteler arms. The workhouse was bnilt in 1837 at a cost of £5000, and has accommodation for 294 inmates. A weekly market is held on Thursday for corn, and one every alternate Thursday for sheep, cattle, and pigs, and there were formerly fairs on Easter-Tuesday and the Wednesday after 29 Sept. The parish comprises 1867 acres; population, 1612. The manor was held at Domesday hy Suene, and passed to Guy Fitz-Eustace, the St Johns, the Childs, the Longs, and the Wellesleys, and now belongs to the Tabor family. Eochford Hall, part of which still stands, was the birthplace and residence of Queen Anne Boleyn, and belongs now to the Tabor family. A curious custom connected with the manor was the holding of what is called the Lawless or Whispering Court, between midnight and cockcrow on Wednesday morning after Old Michaelmas Day on King's Hill adjoining the town, and is said to have originated in the discovery of an ancient conspiracy. At this curious court, which was held in the open air, all the business was transacted in whispers, and the minutes were recorded with a coal in place of pen and ink. This court is not now held, but the post at which it formerly took place is still standing. The living is a rectory in the diocese of St Albans; gross value, £433 with residence. Patron, Earl Cowley.
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