The Hoy & Helmet is a Grade II listed building, thought to date from the early 15th or 16th century. It is a hall house with many later alterations and extensions; the building was listed in August 1952 by Castle Point Council.
It would appear that The Hoy was used as a public meeting place and coroners court room in the 19th century. Reports in the ‘Chelmsford Chronicle’ dated around 1880’s refer to the coroner holding enquiries there into local deaths, it could be a body found in the River Thames or the suspicious death of a local woman by poisoning. Auctions for the sale of land, houses and household goods were also held there.
It is rumoured that in the 19th century The Hoy was a centre for smuggling, and as such there are smuggling tunnels below the rear car park that are still there today, there are stories that they are connected to Benfleet Church at the rear of the pub.
Until 1922 the pub was called The Hoy, however in 1922 its name was changed to The Hoy and Helmet. A hoy is the name for a broad boat or barge and the name helmet was the hard or foreshore where the boat was drawn up. The hard is thought to be the area in Church Creek to the side of the pub where the ‘Fish Market’ restaurant now stands, the creek was tidal and used for commercial purposes before the High Street was altered to go under the railway bridge.
Reverse of postcard post mark December 1914
My dear Harry
Just a line to say we are alright our club shared out on Monday 21st at 22 shillings and 4d. Hope you receive your Christmas present alright.