Essex VII

Edited by: 
W. R. Powell
First Published: 
1 January, 1978

This volume covers the liberty of Havering-atte-Bower and part of Chafford hundred. The area coincides approximately with that of the London Borough of Havering, which was formed in 1965, stretching northward from the Thames. The liberty of Havering-atte-Bower, with its royal manor-house, usually formed part of the queen of England's dower from the 13th century to the 17th. Its tenants had special privileges and it had a measure of admini-strative independence which was formalized in a royal charter of 1465. The liberty included Hornchurch, whose priory build-ings are examined in the volume in a fresh light, and the chapelries of Romford and Havering-atte-Bower. While the last has remained largely rural, Hornchurch was an industrial village which has become a dormitory suburb and Romford was a market town which has become a shopping centre serving estates such as those at Gidea Park, which originated as a garden suburb, and Harold Hill. Chafford hundred, once largely agri-cultural with moated manor-houses and extensive marshland sheep-pastures, still has a few farms, but parishes like Upminster and Cranham have in the 20th century acquired large commuter suburbs. Along the Thames, where Rainham was once a small port for coastal shipping and an early, harbour at Wennington creek has been identified, there is an industrial area making ferro-alloys and providing storage for oil and petroleum. At Little Watley (which like South Ockendon is outside the London Borough of Havering but is included in the present volume) the head-quarters of the Ford Motor Co. Ltd. have replaced a military camp and the barracks of the Essex Regiment. Among the large houses that survive those treated in the volume include Bower House, Bretons, and Langtons, and accounts are also given of others that have been demolished. The gardens at Warley Park, now derelict, were once among the most notable in Europe.