Category Archives: Medieval


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”.








The Spital Sermon

An earlier Spital Sermon.jpg

The annual “Spital Sermon”, on the theme of “The Spread Of Truth”, will take place today in the church of St Lawrence Jewry, with the Lord Mayor, the Court of Aldermen, the Common Councilmen, the Governors of the Bridewell and Christ’s Hospitals, and pupils from Christ’s Hospital School  in attendance (it takes place today so as to coincide with a meeting of the Court of Common Council in the nearby Guildhall).

The sermon has been preached every year since the late fourteenth century by a bishop invited by the mayor:  formerly at the open-air pulpit at St Mary Spital in Spitalfields; subsequently, after the pulpit was destroyed during the Civil War,  at St Bride Fleet Street and Christ Church Newgate Street; and latterly, after Christ Church was damaged during the  Second World War, at St Lawrence.  Its original purpose was to raise awareness of, and donations and bequests to, the Spital, which was founded in 1197 for the care of the sick.



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

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.

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

Church of St Helen and St Giles


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.

The Execution of William Taylor (1423)


On this day in 1423, the Lollard Priest William Taylor was burnt at the stake for heresy  in West Smithfield (see also posting of December 14th).

Lollardy was a movement that sought to restrict the secular wealth and power of the established church, and to return to apostolic poverty and mission).  It has been described as the “Morning Star of the Reformation”.

The site is visited on our “Historic Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Holborn” standard walk, and on our “Medieval London” and “Rebellious London” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the Our Guided Walks section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (


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 (see posting of April 27th, 2015).

“Conscience is but a word that cowards use” (1478)


During “The Wars of the Roses”, between 1455-85, London was an important centre of political machination, and the Tower, at least according to legend, the scene of a series of chilling politically motivated murders, in forgotten dreadful cubicles behind great locked doors (*).


At least according to legend, on this day in 1478, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who later went on to become Richard III, ordered the death in the Tower of London of his brother George, Duke of Clarence – by drowning in  a butt of Malmsey wine.

The Tower is visited, although not entered,  on our  “London Wall” and “Tower to Temple” standard walks, and on our  “Medieval London” and “Tudor and Stuart London” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the Our Guided Walks section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (

(*) There was some actual action in the City as well (see also May 14th and July 2nd postings). And there were pitched battles on the outskirts, at St Alban’s in 1455 and 1461, as well as at Barnet in 1471 (see also April 14th posting).


Shock and Awe in London and Paris (Matthew Paris, 1247)

Matthew Paris

According to the contemporary chronicler Matthew Paris, in his Chronica Majora and Historia Anglorum, on this day, the vigil of St Valentine,  in 1247, “there was a great earthquake in many places of England, especially in London about the banks of the Thames, destroying many houses”.

Paris was also a  Benedictine monk, scribe and illuminator of manuscripts, based at St Albans Abbey (see also February 2nd posting here). He was of French origin.