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The Market Hall, Rochford Square

Rochford is located to the north of Southend-on-Sea and is officially the main town in the Rochford district of Essex. It is located approximately 43 miles from central London and approximately 21 miles from Essex’s county town, Chelmsford.

Rochford town has a chequered but interesting past. This medieval market town has been host to a number of fascinating people and events, ranging from royal visits and public executions to the founding of a religious sect.

Visitors to Rochford will notice the town centre does not have a high street and instead contains one of the few remaining town cross patterns in England, comprising North, South, East and West Streets. A market is held every Tuesday in the main Square and is one of the oldest in existence. It began in 1247 when The Lord of the Manor, Sir Guy de Rocheforte was granted a charter to hold a weekly market.

Throughout its history Rochford has had links with royalty. In particular, Rochford Hall which was built in the 16th century was considered one of the grandest buildings in the country until it was ravaged by fire in 1760. In 1515 Rochford Hall became the property of Sir Thomas Boleyn of Norfolk. His daughter, Anne, was to become the second wife of King Henry VIII who visited the Hall before their marriage in 1533. Today the hall has been restored and is used as the home of Rochford Golf Club.


Through these primary sources alone it can be concluded that the first market charter was issued in 1257, systematically causing the market to be aged 740.  A very reliable secondary source; Philip Morant’s ‘The History and Antiquities of the county of Essex’ reiterates the existence of a market and a fair in Rochford:

    This Town is 40 miles from London; hath a Market on Thurfday; and two Fairs, on Eafter-Tuefday, and the Wednefday after September 29.

(Morant’s ‘The History and Antiquities of the county of Essex’ , 1768. Page 269)

However, he claims that there was a market before 1257:

    Ewyas in Wales in 1136.  His fon - Guy de Rochford was father of - Pagan, who living in 1204, had two fons, Guy, and John. - - Sir Guy de Rocheford, the eldeft fon and heir, had a Market and a Fair at Rochford, in 1247 (c).

(Morant’s ‘The History and Antiquities of the county of Essex’ , 1768. Page 269)

This market is on a Thursday, rather than on a Tuesday, which was the day granted in the Charter of 1257. The only explanation to this controversy is to assume earlier documentation has been lost or destroyed over the past 500 years since Morant wrote the volume and to accept him as accurate.

He was rarely, if ever wrong and the difference in market days does suggest that the 1247 market is different to the one charted in 1257.  Thus, this reasoning ages the market at 750, a veritable age.

Indeed, it could be a deductive argument that the market is in fact even older than this, giving that the market place was the familiar trading centre of the Angle-Saxons.   But, the charter is not, and it is this evidence which is need to pinpoint the original date of trade for Rochford Market

Read more starting with the 13th Century History 2 of 5
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