Hockley Woods is a large woodland in South-east Essex; it is also a Local Nature Reserve, and parts are a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is owned and managed by Rochford District Council. Hockley Woods are the largest residual area of the wild wood, which covered much of Essex after the Ice Age, 10,000 years ago.
Hockley Woods comprise several contiguous named woods including: Great Bull Wood, Great Hawkwell Wood, Beeches Wood, Winks Wood, Little Bull Wood, Whitbred's Wood and Parson's Snipe. Hockley woods extend over parts of the parishes of Hockley, Hawkwell and Rayleigh. The size of Hockley Woods is variously given as 130 hectares, 109 hectares and 91.3 hectares, although the latter is the SSSI only.
The woods are a complex mosaic of different trees, each species growing where conditions are most favourable. Oak and sweet chestnut grow on the higher ground; birch on the most acidic soils; hornbeam on the wet clays; willow, hazel and ash along the streams.
Many of the plants in the wood, such as the wild service tree, wood anemone, wood spurge and cow-wheat will only grow on the undisturbed soils of ancient woods.
Take a step out of the rat race and step back in time to stroll through these beautiful woodlands, enjoy the abunance of bluebells in the spring and listen to the birdlife: a moment of mindfulness in the heart of Essex.