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History of Barking in 1874, Post Office Directory

History of Barking


With Rippleside

Barking is a town and station on the London, Tilbury and Southend railway, 7 miles from Whitechapel church, and 2 south from Ilford, on the river Roding, which is navigable for barges from the Thames to Great Ilford; it is a parish in the Southern division of the county, Becontree Hundred, Romford union and county court district, rural deanery of Barking, archdeaconry of Essex, diocese of Rochester, and under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan police; it is separated from East and West Ham and Little Ilford by the river Roding, from Dagenham by the Rom, having the Thames on the south and is divided into four wards; Barking in the south west; Ilford, or Great Ilford, in the north west; Chadwell in the north east; and Ripple in the south east. At the mouth of the Roding creek on the Thames are magazines. Barking in the Domesday Survey, is called “Burchingas”. Of the place little or nothing is known until the foundation of the abbey, about the year 670: it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and is said to have been the first monastery established for women in the kingdom: it was founded by St Erkenwald, bishop of London, in the reigns of Sebbi and Sighere, kings of the East Saxons: the founder was grandson of Uffa, the first Saxon King of the East Angles and was the first bishop who sat in the see of London after the erection of St Paul’s by King Ethelbert. . The original charter of endowment by Hodelied, father of King Sebbi, is among the Cottonian MSS, in the British Museum; but the names of the estates or lordships are so changed that it is utterly impossible to trace them. William the Conqueror confirmed the original grants, as did also all the succeeding monarchs down to Henry VII. The first abbess was Ethelburgh, sister of the founder; and it is a fact worthy of note, as showing the importance of the parish in past ages, that most of the abbesses were of high rank, and several of them of the blood royal; one was Oswyth, daughter of the King of Northumberland; another Ethelburgh, wife of Ina, king of the West Saxons. Maud, wife of Henry I, at one time swayed the destinies of the monastery, as did also the wife of King Stephen; and Henry II appointed Mary, sister of St Thomas a Becket,  abbess: during these periods kings have dwelt within the abbey walls, and William the Conqueror is said to have taken up his abode here during the building of his fortifications in London. The abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII, on the 14th November, 1539, at which time its revenues amounted to £1,084 per annum. The site of the monastery was leased by the King to Sir Thomas Dennye; it then (in the reign of Edward IV) passed to Lord Clinton; it was again vested in the Crown, and was granted by James I to Augustine Steward, who died possessed in 1628: in 1747 it was purchased by Joseph Keeling and is now the property of Mr William Thompson, who at present resides at Weymouth. There is scarcely a vestige now remaining of the once magnificent abbey, nor have any of the buildings been standing for centuries. Mr Lethieulier, when Lord of the manor, by digging about the ruins, procured a ground plan of the abbey, or of some considerable portion of it: At the entrance to the churchyard is an ancient gateway, over which is the chapel of the Holy Rood; this, although erected long subsequently to the monastery, is sufficiently interesting, from the fact that within its walls the curfew bell is said to have tolled at eight o’clock; it is by some called the fire-bell gate and this may be so, for the curfew bell was as well a note of alarm as an indication of the hour of rest, During six months of the year one of the bells in the church tower is still tolled nightly at eight and at five o’clock in the morning, merely as perpetuating an ancient custom. Here are the remains of an old  gateway, leading into a kind of orchard; it consists of some rough and time-worn stones placed on each other, and forming an undoubted Saxon arch; close inspection will discover the traces of the zigzag devices of the Saxon era, but nothing very definite; it is affirmed to have been the entrance to the abbey, and certainly its appearance justifies such an assumption, the more especially when it is known that the orchard was the actual site of the monastery, and is the spot on which the foundations were traced by Mr Lethieullier..

The church of St Margaret consists of a chancel, nave, south aisle, two north aisles running parallel to each other, and contains some ancient monuments of great interest:  at the west end is  a lofty square embattled tower containing 8 fine toned bells, which are rung with great skill by the St Margaret's Campanological Society, composed of some of the principal tradesmen of the town: the date of erection is unkown: it was originally appropriated to the monastery. Previously to 1328 there had been two vicarages in the church of Barking, distinguished as St Margaret's on the North and St Margaret's on the South, but about this period they were united, although it was not until 1398 that they were legally consolidated. In the year 1452 several disputes had arisen between Catherine de la Pole, the abbess,  and Sir John Greening, the vicar, which being referred to arbitration: the award made in consequence, after settling many very trivial questions, awards the vicar “provisions every day in the convent for himself and servant so long as he should not be of a litigious disposition, but if he should, without license of the abbess, hold any discourse with the nuns, for the first offence he should lose his diet for a week and for the second offence he should lose it for a month and if he offended a third time he should be excluded the convent”: it was not then endowed with any of the great tithes. In the year 1536 an agreement was entered into between the then abbess and vicar for payment of £10 per annum in lieu of diet; this sum is still paid to the vicar. The registers date from the year 1558. The rectory, which in 1541 had been leased to Mary Blackenhall, consisted of all such tithes as had not been previously leased; it subsequently fell into the hands of the  Crown, by whom (in 1550) it was sold (together with the advowson of the vicarage) to Robert Thomas and Andrew Salter; it afterwards passed to the trustees of the will of William Pownsett, of Loxford (who had been steward to the last abbess), and who, being desirous of bestowing his substance on charitable objects, gave the rectory and advowson to the Warden and Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford. The living is a vicarage, tithe rent charge £820, with 5 acres of land and residence, in the gift of All Souls College, Oxford and held by the Rev Alfred Blomfield MA, late fellow of that College.

The endowed charities amount to £300 yearly, which is mostly distributed in money and kind.

The National Schools were built in 1872, at a cost of £4,000; they are situated in the Abbey grounds, and have master’s and mistress’s residences attached, and  afford accommodation for 250 boys and 225 girls. There are also excellent Wesleyan and Roman catholic schools, and other day schools; and chapels for Roman Catholics, Independents, Wesleyans, Baptists, and Plymouth Brethren; a savings bank and Metropolitan police station.

St Margaret’s Institute, in North Street, consists of reading rooms and circulating library, comprissing upwards of 500 volumes; it is supported by voluntary and members’ subscriptions; members are supplied with tea and coffee; and there are lectures and entertainments given in the winter months.


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And Last updated on: Thursday, 30-Mar-2017 18:37:23 BST