Prittlewell was first designated a Conservation Area in 1995 and later extended, because it has special architectural and historic interest and character. Despite its decline over many years, Prittlewell's special interest remains important and priority is being given to reversing this decline, restoring its historic buildings and upgrading its environment. To find out which properties are within Prittlewell Conservation Area please visit our directory.
Historical background and special interest
Until the late 19th century, Prittlewell and Leigh, three miles to the west, were the only principal settlements in what is now the Borough of Southend. "South End", first recorded in 1481, originated in a group of farms at the southern end of the lands belonging to Prittlewell Priory. From the mid 18th century this settlement slowly developed in response to an increasing barge trade with London, oyster cultivation on the foreshore and especially the new fashion for sea bathing. For much of the 19th century South End remained a small resort. But from about 1870, the pace of development quickened and by the end of the century Southend's rapid expansion had absorbed the village of Prittlewell in a large urban area.
The first settlement at Prittlewell may have been a 6th century Saxon village, possibly close to the present St Mary's Church. The Church still contains part of a 7th century arch, evidence of a Saxon Church from which the present Church developed in the 12th century. No other above-ground evidence remains from this period but a Saxon burial ground to the north has been discovered east of Priory Park.
St. Mary's is the only church in the locality mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, and suggests Prittlewell's local importance. In the early 12th century, lands at Prittlewell were granted to the Cluniac Priory at Lewes to establish a new priory north of Prittle Brook. A market was held in the village in the 13th century, evidence of its local importance, and this continued until the late 16th century. Prittlewell appears to have been relatively prosperous in the mid 15th to mid 16th centuries when there was considerable building work in the village including 255 and 269-275 Victoria Avenue. By the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century, Southend's rapid expansion had overtaken Prittlewell and absorbed the former village into a large urban area. It also resulted in the demolition of many of the village's medieval buildings which were replaced by Victorian, Edwardian and later developments.
Prittlewell's buildings today display a wide variety of design and materials and have no dominant architectural character. But this variety illustrates to a limited extent the evolution of the village from medieval times to the present and shows typical materials and designs.
Further information on the history and special of Prittlewell Conservation Area can be found in the Prittlewell Conservation Area Character Appraisal
Development in the Conservation Area
All development in the Conservation Area including extensions and alterations such as changing windows and roofing materials should follow guidance set out in the Conservation Areas Do’s and Don’ts Leaflet and the Design and Townscape Guide in particular Section 9 Historic Buildings. It is always advisable to check with the Council if planning permission is needed before undertaking any works to a property in the conservation area.