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Romford, Essex

Historical Description

Romford, an ancient market-town in Essex, standing on the little river Rom, an affluent of the Thames, 12 miles ENE from Whitechapel, London, 6 SW from Brentwood, and 7 NE from Barking. It is on the high road between London and Colchester, and it has a station on the G.E.R. The town, which occupies the site of the Roman Durolitum, consisted formerly of two streets crossing each other at right angles, but in recent years many new streets have been added, chiefly in the N, W, and S sides, and the place is still growing year by year. It is the capital of Havering-atte-Bower, an ancient Saxon liberty incorporated by Edward the Confessor, of which Hornchurch and Havering are the remaining members; owns a legal jurisdiction independent of the county, so that it appoints its own magistrates and officials, and is governed by a high steward and two justices. The ecclesiastical parish is also exempt from episcopal jurisdiction. The sanitary government of the town is in the hands of an urban district council, and the parish is divided into the four wards of Romford Town, Collier Row, Harold's Wood, and Noak Hill. Romford is the head of a union and county court district and a seat of petty sessions. The chitf support of the inhabitants is derived from the surrounding agricultural, market-garden, and grazing district, but there is a large brewery belonging to Messrs Ind & Coope, originally founded in a small way in 1779, but now occupying a site of 14 acres and giving employment to a large number of workpeople. A well-attended market for cattle and corn is held every Wednesday. There are two banks, some good inns, and the town publishes three newspapers. The Corn Exchange, which stands in the High Street, has a large hall capable of holding 400 persons which is let for public meetings and concerts. There is also a public hall in South Street, which was erected in 1886 and will seat 350 persons. The town has a head post office, which is located in South Street. The chief architectural feature is the parish church of St Edward the Confessor, a modern building of Kentish ragstone with Bath-stone dressings, which was erected in 1850 on the site of its loth-century predecessor. It is in the Later Decorated style, and consists of chancel, nave, aisles with chapels, and an embattled tower and spire 162 feet in height. It contains some unusually imposing tombs and monuments, among which is one to the tutor of Edward VI., Sir Anthony Cooke and his wife, the Latin inscription on which is said to have been composed by their four daughters, who were respectively united to Lord Burleigh, Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Russell, and Sir Henry Killigrew. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of St Albans; net value, £700 with residence, in the gift of New College, Oxford. St Andrew's is an ecclesiastical parish which was formed in 1863 from the mother parish. The church, which was built in 1862 at a cost of £4500, is a plain building of stone in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave, S aisle, S porch, and a western belfry. The living is a rectory in the diocese of St Albans; net value, £200 with residence, in the gift of New College, Oxford. Other places of worship are a Roman Catholic chapel, which was erected in 1853 by the late Lord Petre; a Baptist chapel, erected in 1847; a Catholic Apostolic church; a Congregational chapel, opened in 1877, a fine building of Kentish rag with a tower and spire; a Primitive Methodist chapel, a Wesleyan chapel, a Church mission-room, and an unsectarian mission hall. There are six almshouses and a large number of small charities. The Victoria Cottage Hospital, erected in 1888, has accommodation for about twelve inmates. The workhouse was built in 1838 at a cost of £9500, and will hold about 370 inmates. In the neighbourhood of the town are Sildea Hall, an 18th-century mansion, built over the site of the great house where Sir Anthony Cooke in 1568 entertained Queen Elizabeth; Stewards, an old manorial seat of the Quarles family, in which Francis Quaries the celebrated author of the "Book of Emblems" was born in 1592; Priests, a chief residence, situated on the Havering Road; and Dagnam Park, an extensive domain at Noak Hill. One mile E of the town is the village of Squirrels Heath, where there is a factory belonging to the G.E.R., in which about 100 workpeople are employed in the manufacture of waggon covers and sacking and in the preparation of forage. The South Essex Waterworks Co. have a reservoir here, and there is a small church dedicated to All Saints. Romford Common is a hamlet about 2 miles NE of Romford. Hare Street is a village on the road to Brentwood, about 1 mile NE. Noak Hill is a village 4 miles NE. It has a church, dedicated to St Thomas, which is a building of brick and stone in the Early English style. Rush Green is a hamlet about a mile SW. There is a cemetery of 8½ acres, with two mortuary chapels. Collier Row is a village 2 miles NW. It has a church, a building of red brick, consisting of chancel, nave, S porch, and central bell-cot. Acreage of the parish of Romford, 7191 of land and 33 of water; population, 10,722.

Romford Parliamentary Division, or Southern Essex, was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 103,546. The division includes the following:- Ilford or Becontree (part of)-Barking, Dagenham, East Ham, Little Ilford, Wanstead; liberty of Havering-atte-Bower-Havering, Hornchurch, Romford.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyEssex 
Ecclesiastical parishRomford St. Edward the Confessor 
Poor Law unionRomford 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Romford from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Essex is available to browse.

The Essex pages from the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 is online.


Online maps of Romford are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering Essex online:

CountyGreater London
Postal districtRM1
Post TownRomford