History of The Bull and Hockley
Parts of The Bull date back to the 16th century. A Grade II listed inn with its olde worlde timber frames and exposed beams, local legend has it that one of the beams once formed part of the York scaffold from which Dick Turpin was hanged. Although there is little evidence to corroborate the legend, there is no doubt that the ‘butcher turned notorious highwayman’ plagued the area of Essex in the 1730’s with his Essex gang.
The Bull is situated in Hockley – a village said to be ‘lost in the mists of time.’
One indication of its past is Plumberow Mount, a tumulus topping on Plumberow Avenue. In the 20th century, excavators hoped evidence of a wealthy burial ground would be unearthed. All that was found, however, were the remains of Romano-British pots, along with a Roman coin.
Hockley gets three mentions in the Domesday Book of 1086 when the manor of Hocheleia, as it was called, was owned by the royal Saxon abbey of St Mary’s, Barking. The abbey was responsible for Hockley’s beautiful church up until the time of the Reformation, when it was given to Wadham College, Oxford.
The present Grade II listed church of St Peter and Paul, which dates back to 1220, can still be seen sitting on a high hill, offering lovely views across the Crouch Valley. It’s well worth a visit.
Hockley is perhaps most famous for its woods. For centuries, these woods were a precious resource for fuel and building materials and divided amongst a number of owners - the dividing Saxon earth banks can still be seen today. Southend Pier was built using timber from Hockley Woods.
Hockley Woods are what remains of the wildwoods which covered the whole of Essex after the Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago. A favourite amongst nature lovers and ramblers, the woods are a complex mosaic of different trees, including oak, sweet chestnut, birch, hornbeam, willow, hazel and ash. Many of the plants, such as the rare wild service tree, wood spurge, cow wheat and wood anemone, only grow in ancient woods because of the undisturbed soils.
The Bull provides the perfect starting point for many of the lovely walks in the area through Hockley Woods, including the popular Saffron Trail from Hockley to Battlesbridge, taking in rolling hills and fields and a pleasant riverside trail along the Crouch Estuary.
The Bull serves delicious traditional pub food, including imaginative, regularly changing specials and sumptuous Sunday roast dinners with all the trimmings. Whether you dine al fresco in the lovely beer garden or indoors beneath the stunning wooden beams – the whole family will love The Bull.
Directions to The Bull
You can find The Bull on Main Road in Hockley, Essex, not far from Hockley Lawn Tennis Club. Just key SS5 4RN into your satnav.