Mersea, West (St. Peter and St. Paul)
MERSEA, WEST (St. Peter and St. Paul), a parish, in the union of Lexden and Winstree, hundred of Winstree, N. division of Essex, 9 miles (S.) from Colchester; containing 917 inhabitants. The parish comprises the greater portion of the Isle of Mersea, which is about five miles in length and two in average breadth; and is connected with the main land on the west by a causeway named the Strode, for the maintenance of which an estate of 46 acres, producing £70 per annum, is appropriated. The surface is diversified with hill and dale, and richly wooded. From various remains, Mersea appears to have been occupied by the Romans, and to have been the residence of the Count of the Saxon Shore, or some other Roman officer of distinction. During the Danish invasions of Britain the isle was a frequent landing-place, and in their retreat here the invaders were besieged by Alfred the Great. In 1730, when some alterations were made at West Mersea Hall, a very fine tessellated pavement was discovered, 21½ feet long, and 18½ broad. The trade in oysters was formerly extensive, but it has greatly diminished, being limited at present to the supply of a few Dutch vessels. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £22; patron and impropriator, Thomas May, Esq.: the great tithes have been commuted for £500, and the vicarial for £230. The church, situated at the extremity of the isle, is a small ancient edifice. There is a place of worship for Independents; and a school is endowed with the interest of £200. The parish contained a Benedictine convent, dedicated to St. Peter, which was a cell to the abbey of St. Audoen, at Rouen, in Normandy.