Things to do in South Benfleet, Essex
In the 5th century the Saxon settlers named the marshy area Beamfleote meaning "tree stream" as it was riddled with creeks which ran down to the River Thames.
Little Benfleet was developed later, still in Saxon times, and for ease of definition Benfleet became known as South Benfleet. The newer settlement eventually was abandoned and it is now a rural area.
The Battle of Benfleet took place in 894AD between the Vikings and the Saxons when the Thames made the area a likely target for the Viking ships. For a time the Vikings used Benfleet as a base for attacks in the area. King Alfred's army, led by his son Edward the Elder, won the battle and defeated the Vikings.
A church was built on the site as an act of thanksgiving for the victory. St Mary's Church now stands on the site.
In 1855 the railway was built connecting South Benfleet station with Southend-on-Sea and London Fenchurch Street Station. This direct rail connection with London makes the area popular with commuters.
Present Day South Benfleet
South Benfleet is now a town of around 60,000 residents with a strong sense of history, thanks to its beautiful buildings.
It has several local landmarks including The Anchor, the Hoy and Helmet and the Half Crown pubs down in the older Monument and St Mary's area of the town. Further north is the Benfleet Tavern.
A less welcome landmark is the Benfleet Water Tower. Built from brick in 1903 it is now the host for a range of radio equipment and masts providing good coverage to the surrounding area.
Part of the old town is a conservation area which has a number of restaurants within it.
The town has plenty of amenities including several supermarkets, pubs and take-aways along with a cinema.
Things to Do Around South Benfleet
Cycle along the 6-mile De Neumann Way from Benfleet to Leigh-on-Sea. It is named after Captain Peter de Neumann who received the George Medal for bravery during World War II.
The area has many pleasant walks but none can beat the lovely walk in spring through Bluebell Woods, off Shipwrights Drive.
Hadleigh Castle is just outside South Benfleet and is a romantic ruin on the Essex marshes, built over 700 years ago by the Normans. It is now managed by English Heritage.
Southend-on-Sea is just 10 miles to the east and offers plenty of seaside fun and attractions. During the summer it hosts many events including the Southend Air Show.
Southend Central Museum and Planetarium includes interesting displays of local history in the area.
Leigh-on-Sea is very popular with sailors and boaters. Walks can be enjoyed in the Leigh Marsh Nature Reserve and there is a small sandy beach which is popular with windsurfers.
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