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Excerpt from Essex: A Dictionary of the County Mainly Ecclesiological; In Two Parts

In proportion to its size, there is probably no county in England that is better worth exploring than Essex. The dimensions are stated differently by different geographers, and have in fact varied to some extent from time to time with the action of the sea, which has here given and taken land in its capricious movements, as it has done all round our island, and particularly along the eastern coast. Disregarding the projection towards the Naze on that side, the county may roughly be described as a square. It measures about forty-four miles from north to south, and rather more from east to west, a diagonal line drawn across from Stratford to Harwich giving us seventy-two miles as the greatest length, the total area being estimated at 986,975 statute acres on the latest ordnance survey.

It is a popular but mistaken notion that Essex is flat and uninteresting. True though this may be of that portion which lies immediately to the north of the Thames estuary, and of the eastern margin, as belonging to that great plain which stretches thence across Holland into Central Europe, it is certainly not true of the county as a whole. The greater part of its surface inland is covered with gently undulating hills and dales, well wooded and well watered, occasionally rising into heights of some distinction, as at High Beech (759 feet above the sea-level), and at Danbury and Laindon Hills (respectively 600 and 620 feet), from whose summits a picturesque landscape may be seen in all directions, to disprove the forementioned libel on the county as deficient in natural beauty. But whatever it may lack in that respect, as compared with the more romantic scenery of other districts, is amply compensated to the antiquary and ecclesiologist by the marks of their presence left upon the land by its former inhabitants.

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