In AD 824, following the Battle of Ellandun, the kingdoms of the East Saxons, the South Saxons and the Jutes of Kent were absorbed into the kingdom of the West Saxons, uniting Saxland under King Alfred's grandfather Egberht.
In changes before the Norman conquest the East Saxons were subsumed into the Kingdom of England and, following the Norman conquest, Essex became a county.
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is a county in England immediately north-east of London.
It borders the counties of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the River Thames to the south and London to the south-west.
The Metropolitan Green Belt has effectively prevented the further sprawl of London into the county, although it contains the new towns of Basildon and Harlow, originally developed to resettle Londoners following the destruction of London housing in World War II, since which significantly developed and expanded.
Epping Forest also acts as a protected barrier to the further spread of London.
The County Hall, made a listed building in 2007, dates largely from the mid-1930s and is decorated with fine artworks of that period, mostly the gift of the family who owned the textile firm Courtaulds.
The highest point of the county of Essex is Chrishall Common near the village of Langley, close to the Hertfordshire border, which reaches 482 feet (147 m).
Essex became part of the East of England Government Office Region in 1994 and was statistically counted as part of that region from 1999, having previously been part of the South East England region.
In 1998 the boroughs of Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock were granted autonomy from the administrative county of Essex after successful requests to become unitary authorities (numbered 13 and 14 on the map to the right).
Because of its proximity to London and the economic magnetism which that city exerts, many of Essex's settlements, particularly those on or within short driving distance of railway stations, function as dormitory towns or villages where London workers raise their families.
Part of the southeast of the county, already containing the major population centres of Basildon, Southend and Thurrock, is within the Thames Gateway and designated for further development.
The ceremonial county of Essex is bounded to the south by the River Thames and its estuary (a boundary shared with Kent); to the southwest by Greater London; to the west by Hertfordshire with the boundary largely defined by the River Lea and the Stort; to the northwest by Cambridgeshire; to the north by Suffolk, a boundary mainly defined by the River Stour; and to the east by the North Sea.