BENFLEET, THUNDERSLEY AND HADLEIGH
Located some 30 miles east of the City of London on the north bank of the Thames Estuary, the mainland portion of Castle Point Borough - which also encompasses Canvey Island - is primarily based around three historically separate settlements, which gradually merged during the 20th century. The residential areas are now said to have the highest proportion of owner occupancy in the country - which speaks volumes for the quality of life here!
With origins dating back to Roman times, and the site of a little-known 9th century battle between the Anglo Saxons and Viking raiders, the town of Benfleet is ideally situated for commuters, with its own station on one of the most efficient railway lines in the South East, with rush hour journey times taking as little as 37 minutes. Day to day shopping needs are well catered for by a range of traditional independent high street retailers.
Initially centred on an ancient hilltop site, crowned by a 12th-century church that can be seen from miles around, Thundersley still retains something of a semi-rural village character, although it has now expanded far beyond its original boundaries. It has its own small parades of local shops, and boasts several attractive areas of woodland that are open to the public.
Hadleigh has a bustling central shopping area, but is best known today for hosting the mountain biking events for the 2012 London Olympics on a purpose-built track across the nearby wooded downs overlooking the estuary and dominated by the dramatic ruins of the town's medieval castle.