The last in the occasional series on historical sites on the “London Loop” (London Outer Orbital Path) walk …
Rainham was first recorded in the “Domesday Book” of 1086 as Raineham, probably from the Old English personal name Regna and ham, meaning homestead. It essentially remained a small village on the banks of the Thames throughout the later Medieval and post-Medieval periods, only finally becoming (sub)urbanised in the early twentieth century (following the establishment of a coaching link to London in the eighteenth century, and the arrival of the railway in the nineteenth). Note, though, that there was also some boat-building industry here as long ago as the sixteenth century. Note also that the river-front was redeveloped in the eighteenth century, at which time muck was brought here from London for use in the fields. Rainham Hall was built here for Captain John Harle in 1729. Historically part of the county of Essex, Rainham town has been part of the London Borough of Havering since 1965.
The church of St Helen and St Giles was originally built in the Norman period, between 1160-70, by Richard de Lucy (who was, incidentally, one of those implicated in the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170). It was restored in 1893-1906. It is the oldest building in the Borough of Havering.
Among the treasures in the interior are some surviving fragments of Medieval wall painting and an ancient ship graffito.