Category Archives: Georgian London


Market Square.JPG

Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Romford, which lies approximately halfway between London to Colchester, was first recorded in Saxo-Norman times as Romfort, from the Old English “run”, meaning wide, and “fort”, ford (across the river known presently as the Rom, but previously as the Beam).  The original settlement, now known as Oldchurch, was found to be prone to flooding, such that subsequent  development took place on higher, drier ground to the north.  In  the later Medieval period, Romford was a small market town surrounded by agricultural land, but  by the post-Medieval, it had become a   centre of industry, in the form of brewing, metal-working, charcoal-burning, cloth-making and weaving.  Further (sub)urbanisation and industrialisation took place in the eighteenth century, following the establishment of a  coaching link to London, and, especially, in the nineteenth and twentieth, following the arrival of the railway.

Historically part of the county of Essex, the town has been  part of the London Borough of Havering since   1965.

Romford Church


The church of St Edward the Confessor, or Romford Church, on Market Place, was originally built in 1410, and subsequently rebuilt in 1850.

Golden Lion


The “Golden Lion” on the High Street dates back to 1440, although the present building is chiefly of sixteenth- and seventeenth- century construction.  It is “a fine specimen of the old inns which [once] abounded in the town”; its stables “full of reminiscences of the days of the stage coach with its spanking team of horses”.









Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Osterley was first recorded in 1274 as Osterle, from the Old English eowestre, meaning sheep-fold, and leah, meaning woodland clearing. It is now a leafy suburb of Outer London.

Osterley House


Osterley House was originally built here in 1576  for the wealthy City of London financier and philanthropist Sir Thomas Gresham, who had bought the manor of Osterley in 1562 (*).  It was described as a “faire and stately brick house”, and is known to have been visited by the Queen, Elizabeth I, in 1576.  The house was subsequently rebuilt in the eighteenth century for  Francis and Robert Child, the grandsons of Sir Francis Child, the founder of Child’s Bank (the architect being Robert Adam).  It is now owned by the National Trust.


Only the brick stable-block survives from the original house.  It now houses a cafe and shop.

(*)  Gresham also bought the neighbouring Boston Manor in 1572/3.


Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …


Carshalton was first recorded as Aeuueltone in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 727 (Aulton in the Domesday Book of 1086), and as Kersaulton in 1218, the name meaning, in Old English, the farmstead, estate or settlement (tun) by the spring (aewell) where the water-cress (caerse) grows (*).  The area remained at least semi-rural throughout much of its history – and water-cress is still grown here to this day (**).  It comprised five manors in the Saxon period, one in the Norman, and two in the later Medieval, one of  them associated with a manor-house named Carshalton Place, which was demolished in the early twentieth century.  The church of All Saints was originally built here in the Saxo-Norman period.  Carshalton House was built here in the eighteenth century; and the housing developments of Carshalton Beeches and Carshalton on the Hill, on the former open land of Carshalton Fields and Carshalton Down, in the twentieth.  Carshalton is part of the London Borough of Sutton, and houses the Borough’s Heritage Centre, which contains extensive collections of ceramics, including  much Medieval  “Cheam Ware”.  Its centre is a conservation area of outstanding interest.

Church of All Saints




The church of All Saints was originally built in the Saxo-Norman period, and extended in the later Medieval, and subsequently substantially rebuilt in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries.  The oldest surviving part is the tower, at least the lower part of which dates to the eleventh century.  The south part of nave and the chancel are on a slightly different alignment, and are  later additions, by the Boulogne family, which date to the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (the north part of the nave is part of the recent rebuild).  The timber roof dates to the fourteenth century.


There are some surviving Medieval to post-Medieval memorials in the church, including that to Nicholas Gaynesford, Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex (d. 1498).



There are also some interesting eighteenth-century memorials, including those to Sir William Scawen, Governor of the Bank of England (d. 1722), and to Sir John Fellowes, Sub-Governor of the South Sea Company (d. 1724).

(*) The spring alluded to is one of the headsprings of the River Wandle, a southern tributary of the Thames.

(**) The area is or was also known for lavender and mint, and for the light industries of the “Wandle Mills”, producing, among other things, snuff, paper and bleached calico.




Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Woolwich was first recorded in 918 as Uuluuich, from the Old English wull, meaning wool, and wic, probably in this context referring to a riverside trading settlement (note, though, that there is also evidence of habitation here  in the earlier – late seventh- or early eighth- century – Anglo-Saxon, Roman and even prehistoric periods).  From the tenth century to the twelfth, it was ruled by the Abbots of St Peter’s Abbey in Ghent, who were given it by Alfred the Great’s daughter Aelfryth.  Woolwich remained a comparatively small rural settlement throughout the remainder of the Medieval period, but burgeoned into an important naval and military base and industrial town in the post-Medieval. Its fortunes began to decline in the twentieth century, after the naval and military bases ceased operations, although it has been undergoing something of  a regeneration in recent years.  Nominally part of Kent throughout much of its history, it is now part of the London Borough of Greenwich.

Woolwich Dockyard




Woolwich Dockyard was originally founded here by Henry VIII in 1512, and remained operational  for nearly four centuries, during which time a  number of historically important ships were built here, including the “Henry Grace a Dieu” or “Great Harry” (in 1514), the “Prince Royal” (in 1610),  the “Sovereign of the Seas” (in 1637), the “Royal Charles” (in 1655), the “Dolphin” (in 1756), and the “Beagle” (in 1820).  It  was finally decommissioned  in 1869.  The oldest surviving building is the Dockyard Office, dating to 1783-4 (which it is now known as the Clock House).  Some associated structures also survive, both in Woolwich and in  the Woolwich Dockyard Estate in North Woolwich (i.e., on the north bank of the Thames).

Woolwich Arsenal







Woolwich Arsenal was originally founded here in 1671, and remained operational for nearly three centuries (i.e., throughout  the most important period of the growth of the British Empire, and both World Wars).  It was finally decommissioned in 1967.   The oldest surviving buildings are the Royal Brass Foundry, dating to 1716-17, and the Beresford Gate, the entrance to the Gun Machining Factory, dating to 1717-20.

The football club now known as the Arsenal was originally founded here – as   Dial Square – in 1886.  It changed its name in 1904, and relocated north of the river to Highbury in 1913.

Church of St Mary Magdalene


The church of St Mary Magdalene was built in 1727-39, on or near  the site of an earlier   church, as one of the “fifty new churches” commissioned by Act of Parliament in 1711.  The interior contains a stained-glass window commemorating the seven hundred souls lost in the sinking of the paddle steamer “Princess Alice” in a collision at Tripcock Point in nearby Thamesmead in 1878.



Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Totteridge was first recorded in the twelfth century as Taderege, from the Old English personal name Tada, and hrycg, meaning ridge (between the valleys of the Dollis and Folly brooks).  By the thirteenth century, it was an established hamlet, in a manor that had been owned by the Abbots or Bishops of Ely since the tenth, and that remained so until the Reformation of the sixteenth.  In the post-Medieval period, it became a popular site for the building of country retreats.  Despite some further development following the arrival of the Great Northern Railway in nearby Barnet in the late nineteenth century, Totteridge  retains something of a rural character  to this day.  Technically, it is now part of the London Borough of Barnet.

Totteridge Church




Totteridge Church was probably originally built at least as long ago as the mid-thirteenth century, at which time it was dedicated to St Etheldreda or Audrey.  It was subsequently substantially rebuilt in the early eighteenth century, and again in the late eighteenth, in  1789, by which time it had come to be dedicated to St Andrew (possibly as the result of an erroneous transcription of Audrey as Andrew).  The nave still contains much Medieval masonry.

The yew tree in the churchyard is believed to be over a thousand years old.





Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Twickenham was first recorded in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 704 as Tuicanhom, from the Old English personal name Twicca, or possibly twicce, and hamm, meaning a bend in a river.





The principal Medieval – to post-Medieval – settlement was probably on the bank of the river overlooking the willow-covered Eel Pie Island (formerly known as Twickenham Ait), in the area of the present Church Street and Embankment.  (Interestingly, a hoard of Iron Age  coins has also been found on Eel Pie Island).




Twickenham became   fashionable in the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries, when York House, Marble Hill House and Strawberry Hill House were built, respectively in the 1630s, in 1729 and in 1776.  It began to be built up in  the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, after the arrival of railway lines in 1848, 1863 and 1883,  and of the – no longer operating – tram line to Shepherd’s Bush in 1902.  The famous rugby stadium was built – on a former  cabbage patch – in 1907.

Church of St Mary





The church of St Mary was originally built at least as long ago as the early thirteenth century, and extended in the fourteenth and fifteenth.  It was subsequently substantially rebuilt in the early eighteenth, after the collapse of much of the Medieval church in 1713 (the result, it is thought, of undermining by the digging of vaults).  Essentially only the fifteenth-century Kentish Ragstone tower remains of the Medieval church.






There are some salvaged Medieval to post-Medieval memorials in the interior of the church, including one to Richard Burton, the King’s chief cook, and his wife Agnes (dated 1443), and one to Sir William Berkeley, one-time Governor of Virginia (d. 1677).   There are also notable later, eighteenth-century,  memorials, including ones to the  painter Sir Godfrey Kneller (d. 1723), and to the poet Alexander Pope (d. 1744).  There are memorials in the exterior to Pope’s nurse Mary Beach (d. 1723), and to the tea merchant Thomas Twining (d. 1741).



Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Streatham was first founded in the Saxon period, possibly on the site of an earlier, Roman settlement.  It was first recorded in 675 as (Totinge cum) Stretham, and later recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Estreham, from the Old English straet, in this context probably the Roman road that ran from London to Portslade (near Brighton), and ham, meaning homestead or village.  In  the Saxon period it, together with nearby Tooting, was owned by the Abbey of Chertsey.  In the Norman period, both estates were  given by William I to his cousin Richard of Tonbridge, who when he died bequeathed them  to the Abbey of Saint Mary  of Bec in Normandy (whence Tooting Bec).  In the later Medieval to post-Medieval/early modern period, the area came to be owned in turn by Eton College, Edward VI, the Howland family,  the Russell family (the Dukes of Bedford), and the Du Cane family, and  remained sparsely populated.  Many wealthy City families evidently established country retreats here after the Great Fire of London in 1666.  The area remained at least semi-rural, and fashionable among the bourgeois elite, into Georgian and Regency times.  It began to become much more built-up and densely populated from  the latter half of the nineteenth century onwards, after the arrival of the railway.  The number of inhabitants increased over ten-fold during the period of Victoria’s reign, to around 100000.  A significant amount of new or replacement housing had to be built in the area after the  bombing of the Second World War.

Church of St Leonard




The church of St Leonard was probably originally built in the Saxon period; rebuilt in the fourteenth century, in c. 1350; rebuilt again in the nineteenth century, in 1830-1; and restored in the twentieth, after sustaining serious damage in a fire, in 1975.  The  tower survives from the Medieval church.  A number of seventeenth- to eighteenth- century memorials also survive, in the interior, including one to John Howland (d. 1686), and one to  the sometime brewery business proprietor, Alderman and Sheriff of the City of London, and Member of Parliament Henry Thrale of Streatham Place (d. 1781), featuring an epitaph by his close friend Dr Samuel Johnson.




Later stained-glass windows commemorate Sir John Ward, a knight who fought alongside the Black Prince at the Battle of Crecy in 1346, and who commissioned the rebuilding of the church in c. 1350; Edmund Tilney or Tylney, the Master of the Revels under Elizabeth I and James I, who lived locally  and died in 1610; and the aforementioned  Henry Thrale and his wife Hester (shown with Johnson and Boswell).



Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Mitcham was first recorded in 727 as Micham, and in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Michelham, from the Old English micel, meaning large, and ham, meaning homestead or village.   It was evidently originally settled even earlier, though, there being here not only a large Anglo-Saxon pagan cemetery dating to the late fifth to sixth century, but also the remains of Roman and even Prehistoric farmsteads.

In the early post-Medieval period, Mitcham became popular among the wealthy as a place in which to build rural retreats, and Elizabeth I is known to have been entertained here a number of times in the late sixteenth century.   Industrialisation may be  said to have begun  in the seventeenth century, with the establishment of calico bleaching and printing works here, although until as late as the eighteenth to early nineteenth, the cultivation of herbs was also to remain an important activity.  Urbanisation did not really begin until after the arrival of the tramway in the late nineteenth century, and the last of the market gardens remained until the mid-twentieth.  Mitcham is now part of the London Borough of Merton.

Church of St Peter and St Paul (Mitcham Parish Church)




The church of St Peter and St Paul was originally built at least as long ago as the thirteenth century, circa 1250, and possibly as long ago as the Saxon period.  It was subsequently substantially rebuilt in the early nineteenth century, between 1819-22,  by the local master-craftsman John Chart, to the design of George Smith.  Essentially only the base of the tower still survives from the Medieval church.


Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Dagenham was first recorded in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 677 as Daeccenham, from the old English personal name Daecca, and ham, meaning homestead or village.  Throughout much of its later history, it remained essentially rural, only beginning to become  (sub)urbanised and industrialised in the early  twentieth century.  It is now part of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, created in 1965.


The only surviving relics of the one-time Medieval village are the timber-framed Cross Keys Inn, dating to 1500 or earlier, and the chancel and north chapel of the parish church.

Dagenham Parish Church (St Peter and St Paul)





The church of St Peter and St Paul was originally built – in imported Kentish Ragstone – in the the late twelfth to early thirteenth century (*), and extended in the late fifteenth, when the North Chapel was added.  It had to be repaired in the early sixteenth century, with financial assistance from the Fanshawe family, after having been despoiled during the Reformation, and repaired again in the late eighteenth, having by that time started to become structurally unsound.

It was subsequently substantially rebuilt – in brick and salvaged stone – in the early nineteenth century, after the tower collapsed on the morning of the second Sunday of Advent in 1800, destroying the nave and south aisle (**).  The architect of the rebuilding was one William Mason, whose work here Ian Nairn has memorably described as “marvellous nonsense” and “pure froth, without a care in the world”.

(*) In part to serve the spiritual needs of the tenants of the adjacent land owned by Barking Abbey.

(**) Providentially, the service that should have been taking place at the time had been delayed by the late arrival of the vicar, who it seems had been searching for his missing keys!


Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Shadwell was first recorded in 1222 as Schadewelle, from the Old English sceald, meaning shallow, and wella, meaning spring or stream (*).  In 1228, the Canons of St Paul’s were granted land here.  There was little or no habitation here in the Medieval period.  However,  by the early post-Medieval, sixteenth century, there was a  tidal mill.  And by the late post-Medieval, seventeenth century, there was a thriving maritime industrial town, with wharves, roperies, smithies, tanneries, breweries and taverns.  Records indicate that there were some  8000 people living here by  the end of the seventeenth century,  many of them mariners, watermen or lightermen.  There were 8000 houses here by the end of the eighteenth century, and a wretched poor slum by the nineteenth, which was cleared in the twentieth.  Shadwell is now part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Church of St Paul


The church of St Paul, “the Church of Sea Captains”, was originally built as a chapel-of-ease in 1656, and subsequently rebuilt as a parish church in 1669, and again, as one of the “Waterloo” churches, in 1820 (by the architect John Walters).

The American President Thomas Jefferson’s mother Jane Randolph was baptised here in 1720; Captain Cook’s son James, in 1763.

(*) Some significant Roman archaeological finds have also been found here, including the remains of a port and a signal tower.  Roman burials were unearthed  here during the development of the seventeenth century.