Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary that he visited Grays on 24 September 1665 and apparently bought fish from the local fishermen. Parts of Grays and Chafford Hundred are set within three Victorian chalk pits; the largest two being the Lion Gorge, and the Warren Gorge. Another area of the Chafford Hundred residential development is built on a Victorian landfill site.
The element "Grays" comes from Henry de Grai, a descendant of the Norman knight Anchetil de Greye, who was granted the manor of Grays Thurrock in 1195 by Richard I.Thurrock is a Saxon name meaning "the bottom of a ship".
Local sites of interest include the Thameside Theatre, the Thurrock History Museum, Grays Beach and the now-disused State Cinema (which was used as a location in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit and for sections of Jamiroquai's video of "Deeper Underground" for the 1998 film Godzilla.
From the top of the Derby Road Bridge in Grays one can look down to Thurrock Yacht Club, Grays Beach children's playground and the River Thames where one can occasionally see large ships travelling up and down.
As well as Thurrock Yacht Club, Grays Beach is the site of the local landmark The Gull, a lightship built in 1860, which has lain on the foreshore for decades and is now in a serious state of dilapidation.
- Football: Grays Athletic FC
- Speedway: Lakeside Hammers
A team named Grays raced against the home team which was called Cambridge at Caxton Speedway near Cambridge on 10th September 1931. Grays featuring Lionel Loudon, Wal Evans, Bill Bailey, Alf Lloyd and Smiler Puncher lost.
- Moncrief, AR Hope; Bruhl, L Burleigh (1909). Esssex. Adam and Charles Black. p. 107.
- Thurrock Gazette
- PH Reaney, The Place-Names of Essex, (CUP, 1969)