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MARKET TOWNS OF ESSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

The Hams in 1837 (East Ham & West Ham)

The Hams are in Becontree hundred, and in the immediate neighbourhood of London. West Ham parish occupies the south-west corner of the county, and is bounded by the Thames and the Lea, by which it is respectively separated from the counties of Kent and Middlesex. It is divided into four wards : All Saints, Church Street, Plaistow, and Stratford. West Ham had formerly a market, the charter for which was procured in the thirteenth century. There was formerly at Stratford Langthorn, in this parish an abbey for Cistertian monks. The abbey having become dilapidated from the flooding of the marshes, amid which it was built, the monks were removed to Burgestede (now Burstead), near Billericay, until ‘one of the Richards, king of England,’ (probably Richard II) repaired the abbey and brought the monks into it again. In 1307 the abbot was summoned to parliament. At the dissolution the yearly revenues of this house were estimated at £573, 15 shillings and 6 pence gross, or £511, 16 shillings and 3 pence clear. The chief remains now existing of the conventual buildings are a brick gateway, the entrance to the precincts, and an ornamented arch in the Early English style, which appears to have been the entrance to the chapel : they are nearly half a mile south-west of the church. The site of the precincts was moated and contained about sixteen acres. West Ham church consists of a nave and chancel, and side aisles to both : it is large, but not distinguished for its architecture.

Stratford, which is one of the wards of this parish, lies along the road to Romford, Chelmsford, &c., and may be regarded as a prolongation of the suburbs of the metropolis, being joined to it by an almost continuous line of buildings, constituting the village of Bow, and the hamlet of Mile End in Middlesex. A new church has been lately erected here. The Newmarket road branches off from the Chelmsford and Colchester road at Stratford.

The population of West Ham parish was in 1831 11,580, of which less than one-sixth was agricultural. A considerable number of the inhabitants are labourers, employed in the East and West India docks at Poplar and Blackwall. Calico and silk dyeing and printing are extensively carried on : chemicals are manufactured, and porter is brewed. The West Ham water-works supply the eastern suburbs of the metropolis with water. Several of the wealthier inhabitants of London have residences at West Ham.

The living of West Ham is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Essex, and in the gift of the crown : its yearly value is £875. There are several dissenting meeting-houses.

There were in this parish in 1833 two infant schools, partly supported by contributions, with 150 children ; three endowed day-schools, with 257 children, some of whom were clothed ; a national school, partly supported by endowment and subscription, with 50 boys ; a school with 40 children, supported by contribution by Roman Catholics ; another of 10 children, supported by Dissenters ; and another school of 120 children, partly supported by contributions ; and four Sunday-schools, with 390 children. There were also many private boarding and day schools, containing 488 children.

East Ham parish joins that of West Ham. The church consists of a nave with two chancels ; the upper chancel, which forms the eastern extremity of the church, is semi-circular at the east end, and has narrow pointed windows. Part of the walls of the nave and lower chancel are in the Norman style, as is the lower part of the tower ; but the windows of the nave are of later date, and some of them modern. In the church is a monument of Edmund Nevill, Lord Latimer. Dr. Stukely, the antiquary, is buried in the churchhyard, but, at his own desire, without any monument. At Green Street, a hamlet of this parish, is an ancient mansion, supposed to have been the residence of the Nevill family. The population of East Ham in 1831 was 1,543, chiefly agricultural. There is an almshouse for three poor men, and a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists.