There is some evidence that there was a Roman settlement in the vicinity of the town, probably centred under the hospital. There is nothing however to suggest an urban element to the settlement. There is no archaeological evidence for Saxon settlement at Rochford, apart from an unverified report of Saxon graves (Pollitt, 1953). The Domesday book however records a small village and manor at Rochford at the end of the Saxon and beginning of the medieval period.
The Parish Church of St Andrew lies about three-quarters of a mile to the west of the town, beside Rochford Hall, which was the manorial centre. It is possible that the Domesday Rochford was centred on the church and the manor. Rochford received a market charter and fair in 1257, and its development as a town probably began at this point. It is possible that it moved from the church/hall complex to its present location at this date also.
The original medieval market-place is thought to have consisted of the area of Horner’s Corner and the current rectangular market-place on the north-eastern end of West Street. Horner’s Corner was infilled in the fifteenth century and the eastern end of the rectangular market place had been infilled by the post-medieval period. The southern side of Market Square is formed by a series of short plots backed by Back Lane. These plots continue as the southern side of West Street and may be contemporary with the rectangular market place. There was medieval ‘ribbon development’ along South Street to the bridge over the Roach. Excavation on East Street revealed a substantial water-course which would have cut the road, and it is possible that stream limited the development of the town eastwards. The association of the fifteenth century Lawless Court (held by the lord of the manor) with King’s Hill on East Street suggests that this site formed an early meeting-place.
The historic town plan appears to have expanded little in the post-medieval period, although internal rebuilding and infilling took place and there is a possibility that parts of East Street may be a later addition. Rochford Hospital is an outstanding example of the International Modern Movement architectural style.