A Brief History of the area and background in which our church community grew:
The Parish of St. Mary the Virgin, Hawkwell, is apparently mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1085, but early records are scarce. During the building works of 1995 there was found evidence of a previous church dating from the late Saxon or Saxo-Norman period. It seems likely that the original village would have developed at the geographical centre of the Parish in the vicinity of the current St. Mary's Church, but the ravages of war and disease in the Middle Ages probably led to a wider local dispersal of the population, leaving the Church much as it is today, surrounded by open farmland. In the 1960's a sister church Emmanuel was built in Main Rd, Hawkwell at the other end of the Parish on the Hawkwell/Hockley border.
The Civil Parish of Hawkwell, which substantially coincides with the Parochial Parish, now has a population of around 12,500, mainly white, with a wide socio-economic mix. It is situated in the District of Rochford, on the South East Essex peninsula and includes mainly 20th century suburban, privately owned residential development, ancient woodland and agricultural land, together occupying an area of approximately 2.5 square miles, between the small towns of Hockley and Rochford, 6 miles north west of the major urban centre and resort of Southend-on-Sea and a similar distance from the small town of Rayleigh, to the west.
The Parish is bisected by the Southend to London (Liverpool Street) railway line, with nearby stations at Hockley and Rochford, and many residents use its services to commute to work in London, Southend and other urbanised areas of South Essex. The B1013 road runs through the south-west of the Parish and is an important local distributor with connections to the national road network. Within the Parish there is a Baptist church, two shopping parades, two primary schools, several doctor's surgeries/centres, small trading estates, extensive areas of public open space including recreation grounds, children's play grounds and woodland walks, and there is a thriving leisure/fitness centre. There are two large secondary and three primary schools immediately outside the Parish.
The Wider Community
The District of Rochford including Hawkwell, is something of a green oasis adjoining the Thames Gateway South Essex sub region, the latter being the largest urban area in the East of England and scheduled for major regeneration and growth over the next 15 years. Southend-on-Sea has been identified as the cultural and intellectual hub of the area and is the major centre for commerce, tourism, sport and leisure, higher education and healthcare; it has very recently been granted city status. The large towns of Basildon (12miles) and Chelmsford (16 miles) are both quickly accessible via good main roads, as is the regional shopping centre at Lakeside (22 miles). Central London (42 miles) can be reached in little more than an hour via the frequent railway services from Rochford and Hockley stations.
Emmanuel Church & Golden Cross Community Church
Emmanuel Church is at the brow of the hill leading from Hawkwell into Hockley in Main Road. It literally is on the border of the two villages. For a while we also had a third congregation meeting at the Holt Farm Junior School. This we named 'Golden Cross Community Church'. When this had to close we merged our congregations into our two remaining churches. At that time we also decided to reconfigure Emmanuel and in so doing turned the church internally around. This left a large window to be covered and the decision was taken to create a very large tapestry that would be draped over this area. The tapestry would eventually get the name 'Golden Cross' which fittingly kept the legacy going of that vibrant congregation at Holt Farm.
(photo and more details to follow)
Emmanuel Church celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016 and we had a wonderful service to commemorate this event. We will add more on the detail at a later stage so please do return here!