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MARKET TOWNS OF ESSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Grays Thurrock in 1837

Grays Thurrock is in the hundred of Chafford ; it is on the bank of the Thames, 24 miles from London through Romford, Upminster, and Stifford. This little town consists chiefly of one irregular street on a creek of the Thames, accessible to hoys and other small vessels. The church, near the north end of the town, is built in the form of a cross, with a tower on the north side.

The area of the parish is 1,570 acres ; the number of inhabited houses by the census of 1831 was 243, the population (including that of the liberty of Lee, in East Tilbury parish, Barstable hundred), 1,248. The population had greatly increased before the census, owing to the number of labourers employed in brick-making. The market is on Thursday, and is chiefly for the sale of corn ; it is much frequented : there is one yearly fair.

The living is a vicarage of the yearly value of £160, with a glebe-house: it is in the archdeaconry of Essex.

There were in 1833 eight day-schools, with 138 scholars, 20 of whom (boys) were educated from the proceeds of an endowment ; and two Sunday-schools, with 202 children.

There are two villages near this town which also bear the name of Thurrock : Little Thurrock, to the east of the town (population 302), and West Thurrock, to the west of the town (population 804). The chalk-quarries of Purfleet are in the parish of West Thurrock. In Little Thurrock parish, and in Chadwell parish, which adjoins it, are some remarkable caverns or holes in the chalk, to which tradition has assigned the name of ‘Cunobelin’s gold-mines.’ It has been conjectured that they were granaries of the ancient Britons. They are also called ‘Dane holes,’ from having been used by the invaders as lurking-places or receptacles for plunder.