BEING AN ACCURATE
HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION
Vol. VI.: Essex
We enter the county of Essex at Stratford Langthorn, three miles and a half from London, in the parish of West Ham. At Maryland Point1
, in this hamlet, is Stratford House, noted for its extensive gardens. The village is straggling, but there are several good houses, and considerable gardens attached to them. Stratford has recently greatly increased in houses and inhabitants, with the addition of two new built hamlets, on the forest side of the town; namely, Maryland Point, and the Gravel Pits; one facing the road to Woodford and Epping, and the other that to Ilford: it is also nearly joined to Bow, in spite of rivers, canals, marshy grounds, &c.2
The same increase of buildings may be seen proportionally in the other villages adjacent, especially on the forest side; as at Low Layton, Layton Stone, Walthamstow, Woodford, Wansted, West Ham, Plaistow, Upton, and this, mostly of handsome houses, chiefly the habitations of rich citizens, able to keep a country as well as town houses, or of such as have left off trade altogether. The number of carriages which are kept in the circle already mentioned, do not amount to less than between five and six hundred.
The land in the neighbourhood of Stratford, Maryland Point; &c. has been much improved by the cultivation of potatoes, which have increased so much, as that some hundred acres are annually planted there; but, by the culture of these roots, the great tithes of these parishes are reduced to less than half of their former value, since it has been determined that the tithe of potatoes belongs to the vicar.
Hence the great road passed to Layton Stone, by the sign of the Green Man, formerly a lodge upon the edge of the forest; and, crossing by Wansted House, went over the Roding near Ilford; and, passing that part of the great forest called Henault Forest, came into the present. great road a little on this side the Whalebone, a place so called, because a rib bone of a large whale, taken in the river Thames, was fixed there in 1658, the year that Oliver Cromwell died.
WEST HAM, is one mile south of Stratford. Near the Abbey Mills, are the site and remains of a monastery, called the Abbey of Stratford Langthorn, founded by William Montfichet in 1135, the demesne of which in this parish, included one thousand five hundred acres; besides several manors in various counties. A gateway of the abbey is still standing; and, adjoining to the Adam and Eve public house and tea gardens, is one of the stone arches of the abbey, where the ground has been much raised. In the kitchen is a carved grave-stone, on which were once some inscriptions cut in brass. In the garden is a stone coffin, dug up in 1770; and, in 1792, several urns, with three leaden coffins, an antique seal, and some old coins, were dug up in a field adjoining to the Adam and Eve. Mr. Holbrook, the proprietor of the field, after having built walls with some of the stones, sold large quantities of them to great advantage. In the same field is one of the chapels nearly entire, and now a stable.
The parish church of this village, dedicated to All Saints, is a spacious building, with a tower at the west end, containing ten bells. Within the church are several fine monuments; among the principal are those erected to the memory of Sir Thomas Foot, bart. lord mayor of London, 1650; Sir John Smyth, lord mayor in 1706; Dr. Hugh Smith, an alderman of Tower ward, London, and an eminent physician, who died in 1790; Mrs. Tollet, a famous literary character; and Jeremiah Dummer, Esq. governor of New England, who died in 1739. In the churchyard are deposited the remains of George Edwards Esq, F. R. S. the great naturalist, who died in 1773.
That unfortunate divine, Dr. Dodd, resided for some years at West Ham. Here he preached and wrote some of his best publications. Much, therefore, is to be regretted that he ever quitted this his favourite place of retirement. The valuable living of this parish was given by lord Sidmouth to the late Dr. George Gregory, well known by his various publications in the literary world.
The famous Sir Richard Jebb, physician to his majesty, George III. was a native of Stratford; and Plaistow, another hamlet in this parish, was the retirement of the celebrated poet and dramatist Aaron Hill, Esq.; here he finished his Merope, and several of his poems.
There is a charity school at West Ham for forty boys and twenty girls. Mrs. Bonnell's school maintains and educates forty girls. In the parish are meeting houses for the several denominations of Dissenters; and at Stratford a Roman Catholic chapel. Ten almshouses are on the east side of the churchyard.
The West Ham waterworks were established in 1745, to supply the inhabitants of Stratford, Bromley, Bow, Stepney, and the adjoining districts. They are worked by a steam engine, and a water engine.
At Plaistow is an estate given by Henry Strode, Esq. for the support of his hospital and school, at Egham, Surrey; and at Ox-Leas are twelve acres of marsh land, appropriated to bind out four apprentices for ever; three of West Ham, and one of East Ham parish.
Dr. Fothergill had his famous botanic garden, at Upton.
EAST HAM is between West Ham and Barking. In this parish, is a spring called Miller's Well, the water of which is esteemed to be exceedingly good, and has never been known to be frozen, or to vary in its height. A part of Kent, in the parish of Woolwich, lies on this side of the Thames, and divides this parish and Barking from Woolwich.
GREEN STREET HOUSE, in this parish, stands about a mile north-west of the church, and is an excellent mansion; partly ancient, and partly modernized, with an old tower in the garden, fifty feet high. This house is said, but without sufficient authority, to have been built by Henry VIII. for Anne Boleyn. The estate has been in the family of the Nevils, earls of Westmorland and lord Latimer, some of whom are interred in the church, which is dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen; and from its structure is of very remote antiquity. In the churchyard was buried the rev. WILLIAM STUKELEY, M. D. rector of St. George, Queen Square, and a celebrated antiquary, who died in 1765, whilst on a visit to the reverend Mr. Sims, vicar of East Ham. By the doctor's particular desire he was laid in the churchyard, without any memorial, and the turf laid smooth over his grave.
1. So called because built by a merchant who had raised an estate in that colony, in North America.
2. The remains of a great stone causeway, supposed to have been the highway, or great road, from London to Essex, instead of that which now leads over the bridge between Bow and Stratford, have been discovered towards the bottom of Hackney Marsh, between Old Ford and the Wyke. That the great road lay this way, and that the great causeway continued just over the river, where now the Temple Mills stand, and passed by Sir Henry Hicks's house at Ruckholt, is not doubted; and that it was one of the highways made by the Romans. there is undeniable proof, by the several marks of Roman works. by Roman, coins, and other antiquities, found there, some of which were collected by the reverend Mr. Strype, the vicar of Low Layton.