Romford in 1837
Romford is in the liberty of Havering atte Bower, on the Bourne brook: it is a great thoroughfare, being on the high road from London to Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Bury, Norwich, Yarmouth, and other large towns in Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk ; between 11 and 12 miles from London. The derivation of the name has been much disputed, some contending that it is derived from Roman ford, others from two Saxon words signifying broad ford. This place, or some spot in the neighbourhood, is supposed to be the site of the Durolitum of the Itinerary of Antoninus.
The town consists almost entirely of one long wide street, near the centre of which is the market-house and town-hall, which was repaired in 1768 at the expense of the crown. The houses are tolerably good, and the street is paved and lighted. The chapel, situated at the entrance to the town from London, on the left hand, is a tolerably large building, erected in the early part of the fifteenth century : it is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St. Edward the Confessor, and consists of a chancel, nave, and north aisle, with a square tower at the west end. In the east window is a figure of Edward the Confessor in stained glass, the arms of that king, and another coat of arms. The Independents have a meeting house at Colliers Row, a hamlet of the parochial chapelry of Romford, about two miles north-west of the town ; a house for the pastor and a small endowment are connected with it. There is also a Methodist meeting-house. An almshouse for five poor men was founded and well endowed by Roger Reed near the end of the fifteenth century. There were formerly cavalry barracks at the London entrance to the town : they were of wood, and have since been pulled down.
The parish comprehends an area of 3,340 acres, and had, in 1831, 766 inhabited houses, and a population of 4,294, of which less than one-third is agricultural. The general market is on a Wednesday : there is a market on Monday for calves, and on Tuesday for hogs. In spring and summer great numbers of suckling calves are brought to market from Suffolk and the dairy districts of Essex.
This parish, with those of Hornchurch and Havering, form the liberty of Havering atte Bower, the quarter sessions for which are held at Romford. Commissions for trying felons within this liberty may be obtained by a small payment to the crown, but no commission has been applied for for many years.
The living is a chapelry originally included in the parish of Hornchurch, the limits of which were once coextensive with those of Havering liberty, but separated from it by act of parliament in 1658. The living is of the annual value of £800, with a glebe-house, in the patronage of New College Oxford : it is in the archdeaconry of Essex. There were, before the Reformation, a chantry and a small guild attached to Romford chapel, the lands of which were valued at £4, 10 shillings and 2 pence per annum.
There were, in 1833, in the parish, one endowed day-school with 121 scholars, six other day-schools with 172 scholars, and two Sunday-schools with 143 scholars.