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Peony in Love By Lisa See. Atonement By Ian McEwan. Christine Falls By Benjamin Black. Three Rivers. Running Press. Into the Wild By Jon Krakauer. Books of Chapel Hill. Digging to America By Anne Tyler. It's amazing that a book so full of painful soul-baring can be so funny, but it is.

Just listen to the laughs in the background from the crowd at Brookline Booksmith during Auslander's recent reading of excerpts from his new book "Foreskin's Lament. But be forewarned: A howling [double meaning alert] rant on his orthodox Jewish upbringing and against those who teach children that God is a vengeful deity to be feared and obeyed at all times, the book is probably not for the faint of faith. The recommendations are worth a listen to hear why the authors are recommending their favorites, but for your convenience, here are some links to their recommended books:.

Brock Clarke: "US! Justin, Charles. Wicked By Gregory Maguire. Suite Francaise By Irene Nemirovsky. Middlesex By Jeffrey Eugenides. Claire Messud is featured in the current episode of Great Writers. Globe staff photo by Dina Rudick. The Great Writers podcast is back from summer hiatus, with a new format, more events, and bigger names than before. Launched last year in conjuction with independent literary powerhouse Newtonville Books , Great Writers has now added two more of the region's best independent bookstores as partners: Brookline Booksmith and Wellesley Booksmith.

Another big change: new episodes this season will debut on Tuesdays instead of Sundays. The first episode of the season is now online. It features a special double appearance from Brookline Booksmith by bestselling authors Claire Messud, reading and discussing "The Emperor's Children," recently released in paperback and Valerie Martin, talking about and reading from her latest work, "Tresspass. Martin's novel "Property" won the prestigious Orange Prize. Next week's episode will feature our first recommendations from the Books section staff of the Globe and a reading by Brock Clarke, the author of the remarkable new novel "An Arsonist's Guide to New England Writers' Homes.

Click here to listen to this week's episode. Click here to subscribe to the series via RSS. Great Writers is also available through iTunes. Evening By Susan Minot. Baby Proof By Emily Giffin. Intuition By Allegra Goodman. The Birthdays By Heidi Pitlor. University of Wisconsin.

Absurdistan By Gary Shteyngart. Everyman By Philip Roth. Case Histories By Kate Atkinson. Rise and Shine By Anna Quindlen. Anybody Out There? By Marian Keyes. To help answer that question, the Globe's Great Writers podcast has been asking our participating authors to recommend the great books they've been reading lately. We're calling the new feature "Top of the Stack" - as in the books that have earned exulted status amid that pile next to their favorite reading chair. The first installment of the new feature is already live online. We're also offering a recap and links here for those seeking more information.

Michael Thomas, the Newton native who recently published the acclaimed novel "Man Gone Down," included a collection by poet Yusef Komunyakaa among his recommendations. They were:. Eliot, and "Taboo" by Yosef Komunyakaa. We'll bring you more recommendations as the series moves along. The Namesake By Jhumpa Lahiri. Arthur and George By Julian Barnes. Labyrinth By Kate Mosse. Snow By Orhan Pamuk. March By Geraldine Brooks.

Salem Falls By Jodi Picoult. Perfect Match By Jodi Picoult. On Beauty By Zadie Smith. Washington Square Press. The Children of Men By P. The Sea By John Banville. Life of Pi By Yann Martel. Eat the Document By Dana Spiotta. Lipstick Jungle By Candace Bushnell. Something Borrowed By Emily Giffin. The Lighthouse By P..

The Lighthouse By P. Slow Man By J. Night Watch By Sergei Lukyanenko. Slow Man By J.. Trouble By Patrick Somerville. Pardonable Lies By Jacqueline Winspear. Get Daily discounts and offers on sporting events, plays, concerts, museums and other events around town. Listen Live. Childrens , HCFiction , hcnonfiction , pbfiction , pbnonfiction. Childrens , HCFiction , hcnonfiction , pbfiction. A complete list of nominees, with the winners in bold, follows.

G" reads at 3 p. HCFiction , hcnonfiction , pbfiction , pbnonfiction. This week, "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson tops the hardcover nonfiction list. Walter Isaacson's "Steve Jobs" remains at the top of the hardcover nonfiction bestsellers list. Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken" was the top seller in hardcover nonfiction this week.

See full list below. Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken" is now the top seller in hardcover nonfiction. This week's paperback fiction bestseller is, once again, "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. See full lists below. Thomas L. Friedman's "That Used to Be Us" is the hardcover nonfiction bestseller this week. Ann Patchett's "State of Wonder" holds steady as No. Kathryn Stockett's "The Help" continues to reign as the bestseller in paperback fiction. For full lists see below. Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken" has moved up to the top-selling spot in hardcover nonfiction.

Tina Fey's "Bossypants" is the hardcover nonfiction top seller this week. Erik Larson's "In the Garden of Beasts" is the top-selling hardcover nonfiction book this week. Katheryn Stockett's "The Help" holds the bestseller place in paperback fiction. See full bestseller lists below. For full lists, see below. Ann Patchett's "State of Wonder" remains in the number one spot in hardcover fiction. Kathryn Stockett's "The Help" keeps on conquering the paperback fiction bestsellers.

Ann Patchett's "State of Wonder" holds on to the number one spot in hardcover fiction. Kathryn Stockett's "The Help" continues to dominate the paperback fiction bestsellers. Tina Fey's "Bossypants" continues its weeks-long run at the top of hardcover nonfiction. Tina Fey's "Bossypants" continues to dominate hardcover nonfiction. Tina Fey's "Bossypants" remains in the lead on our hardcover nonfiction list. Tina Fey's "Bossypants" continues to lead hardcover nonfiction. Tina Fey's "Bossypants" also maintains its lead on the hardcover nonfiction list.

Tina Fey's "Bossypants" holds onto the No. Tina Fey's "Bossypants," dominates in hardcover nonfiction. Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken" sits at the top of hardcover nonfiction. David Brooks' "The Social Animal" tops hardcover nonfiction. Harkness, keeps the top spot in hardcover fiction. Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken" takes the lead in hardcover nonfiction.

In paperback fiction, we've got Tom Rachman's "The Imperfectionists" coming out in the lead. Patti Smith's "Just Kids" returns to the number one spot in paperback nonfiction. Harkness, leads hardcover fiction this week. Stacy Schiff's "Cleopatra" remains at the top of hardcover nonfiction. Karen Russell's "Swamplandia!

Tom Rachman's "The Imperfectionists" leads paperback fiction. Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken," jumps to the top of hardcover nonfiction. Patti Smith's "Just Kids" continues to hold the number one spot in paperback nonfiction. For the full lists, see below. Abraham Verghese's "Cutting for Stone" remains in the lead of the paperback fiction list.

Patti Smith's "Just Kids," continues to head the paperback nonfiction list. Hardcover fiction 1. Hardcover nonfiction 1. Paperback fiction 1. Paperback nonfiction 1. Source: Boston-area bookstores. Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" topped the hardcover fiction list. Click below to see the full lists Dennis Lehane's "Moonlight Mile" remains the top hardcover fiction seller. Click below to see the full lists. George W. Bush's memoir "Decision Points" tops the hardcover nonfiction list. Dennis Lehane's new novel "Moonlight Mile" tops the hardcover fiction list. Keith Richards's "Life" remains the best hardcover nonfiction seller.

Newcomer "Our Kind of Traitor" tops the hardcover fiction list. Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" remains the top hardcover fiction seller. Click below for the full lists. Sebastian Junger's "War" surges to the top of the hardcover nonfiction list. Little Bee By Chris Cleave.

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Makishima, Globe staff. Well, flex that quad and call me Ishmael. These are but two sites. A quick Google check will reveal many others. Posted by Paul S. HCFiction , pbfiction. Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe staff. Great Writers is back! Or what the heck, tell your whole book club. Click here to visit Boston. My second glimpse is a nicer tale.

On a February day in , two Romford gentlemen staged a horse race through Harold Hill. William Henry Tolbutt owned a South Street mansion. No doubt there were more onlookers clapping the winner, Tolbutt, at the A The jeering passengers on the Colchester Road stagecoach and the cheering spectators of the Harold Hill horse race have vanished into the mists of Time. Will we one day be able to press a rewind button and hear their catcalls and their laughter? Probably not! Norman was four when his family moved to Harold Hill in , just months after the first tenants had arrived in Gooshays Drive.

They were among the first residents of Amersham Road, where few houses were yet completed. Gooshays Drive, round the corner, only ran to Petersfield Avenue. In those early days, there were no pavements or streetlights. Construction was scattered around the future estate, with fields in between. A young couple drove a van with a tea urn around the building sites, delivering sandwiches to the workers. Sometimes they gave Norman a ride.

Norman used to collect sawdust there for the chickens his father kept in the back garden. To speed construction, Harold Hill homes were fitted with factory-produced Crittall windows. Double glazing was unknown, and the steel-framed units iced over in winter. The house was cold. Norman recalls sleeping snugly in a bed piled high with blankets and a quilt.

Heating mainly came from a single downstairs fireplace, with a back boiler that supplied hot water. A huge coal bunker in the garden stored the fuel. To make the fire draw, you stretched a newspaper across the hearth, forcing a draught under the kindling. This was risky, as the fire might flare up and catch the newspaper. One day, Norman decided to help his parents by lighting the fire. Providing school places was a challenge in the early days. He still remembers its Victorian brick buildings. Children were bussed to Romford from a collecting point in Paines Brook Way.

Mead Junior School followed a year later. Parks and leisure facilities were also in short supply. Children used Paines Brook as their adventure playground, acting out war games or whooping it up as Cowboys and Indians. They even took Dinky Toys along, making pretend-racetracks on the riverbank.

One childhood highlight was the Coronation on June 2nd It was the first TV in Amersham Road. Neighbours crowded in to watch the crowning of the Queen. Rain bucketed down when the procession left Westminster Abbey, and distinguished guests closed their carriage roofs to keep dry. Dripping and waving, she was adored by the soaking wet spectators. In Amersham Road the brave lady from the distant Pacific was cheered too. My old friend Norman grew up with Harold Hill. He was four years old in , when his parents got a house in Amersham Road, one of the first streets in the new estate.

Facilities came later. The first schools opened in Before Petersfield Avenue shops were built in , residents generally travelled to Romford or Harold Wood. For housewives loaded with purchases, shopping in Romford was an exhausting expedition. Norman recalls that Harold Wood station was very important for Harold Hill people. Harold Wood also had doctors and dentists. It was the mids before a health centre opened in Gooshays Drive. Social life on Harold Hill itself took a while to develop. That could mean a long walk, but nobody seemed to mind.

The headmaster was short and formidable. In fairness, Norman admits, teachers had to be tough. Kids were quick to exploit weakness. Teachers who lost control found it hard to survive, even in an era of corporal punishment. But one bold fifteen year-old picked up a ruler and pretended to stage a sword fight. Fifteen year-olds were taking end-of-term exams in the School Hall in when one lad was unceremoniously evicted, and his papers torn up. Lawrence novel famous for using four-letter words in its sex scenes.

It was much too saucy for a Harold Hill teenager! Harold Hill was more than just bricks and mortar. It was people who made the estate into a community. A few dozen teenagers hurled sticks and stones. No bullets were fired, only acorns. The root cause of the clash between pupils from two schools lay in the planning of the postwar public housing scheme.

By , a split was emerging. Harold Hill needed a major shopping centre, but separate parades were built, Petersfield Avenue serving the east, Hilldene Shops in Farnham Road for the west. Harrowfield, in Settle Road, opened in Quarles, in Tring Gardens, followed in Technically, there were four schools, one for boys and girls on each site. About a mile apart, they were distant enough to feel different but close enough for friction. Some said the trouble was caused by Quarles boys challenging Harrowfield lads to fight. Others claimed the conflict began because a Quarles boy was dating the former girlfriend of a Harrowfield pupil, who resented losing her.

After school on Tuesday October 7th, a mob of Harrowfield boys gathered outside Quarles school gates, armed with bottles and studded belts. Teachers scattered them before trouble could erupt. Discipline was strict in the s. At Quarles, even girls could be caned. For serious offences, the whole school was summoned to witness corporal punishment. On Wednesday morning, Harrowfield headmaster Mr Gregson caned eight ringleaders of the siege of Quarles. Both schools were now seething.

Even in an era before mobile phones, rumours flew. After school, Quarles pupils hung around in excited expectation. Miss Knapton, the headmistress, urged her girls to go home. Two police officers, shadowed by a squad car, shepherded the youngsters towards Dagnam Park Drive.

But Harrowfield girls, resenting the humiliation of their eight heroes, were marching on the rival academy.

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Children from the rival schools lined opposite sides of the road, hurling insults and missiles. Tough motherhood intervened. Abusing the rioters as hooligans, Harold Hill housewives drove them into Central Park, where battle raged for an hour. All started by a romance across tribal lines. One former Harold Hill resident still jokes that it was like West Side Story, but without the knives and the music.

It caused bad publicity for Harold Hill. In , Quarles was transferred to Havering College. Some people think of the s as a golden age, when strict discipline made children well-behaved. Every year, hundreds of Havering youngsters face the daunting experience of starting secondary school. Will I find my way around? Will I make friends? His family had just moved to Rise Park, so his primary school pals were back in Ilford.

There were no school runs in those days. His family had worked out his route — bus to Romford Station, train to Gidea Park. Later he realised he was travelling two sides of a triangle. Crossing Eastern Avenue, he could walk to school in 25 minutes! There was no Open Day for intending students. Mike had visited Royal Liberty once, to attend its Summer Fair.

It was the first Tuesday in September The new boys were organised into our forms, and given a tour of the school. Next came something new: a timetable. Each operated from his own classroom. Masters addressed boys by their surnames, and boys used surnames too. Some were prefects, who could give orders.

The Head Boy seemed almost godlike — eighteen years old, and over six feet tall. One February morning, the school was summoned to the school hall for an announcement. Wearing his black academic gown, the headmaster told them King George VI had died. We now had a Queen. The king had died at Sandringham. His body was transported back to London — through Gidea Park station. The other event was more enjoyable. The school went on a summer outing by rail to Windsor Castle. The boys left Gidea Park on a special train drawn by a steam locomotive.

The route towards Liverpool Street was familiar, but the train branched off along tracks they never knew existed. The engine slowly chugged around north London to join the Thames Valley main line near Windsor. School rules were strict. Royal Liberty boys had to wear their regulation blue caps at all times. But he looks back on that first year at secondary school with affection. He hopes youngsters starting new schools in will have the same experience. In , tax records show Hare Street among the richest communities in England, home to four large tanneries.

Later, its prosperity was based on inns serving passing travellers. One, the Ship, survives in its ancient structure. From to , famous landscape gardener Humphry Repton lived in a cottage there, its site marked by a plaque on a bank. Hare Street had nothing to do with hares. West of Raphael Park and east of Gallows Corner, the main highway follows the line of the Roman road.

But, through Hare Street, it wobbles to the south.

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In Saxon times, traffic was mainly cattle drovers and horse riders, so nobody minded when the encroaching forest pushed the track out of line. He captured Colchester in East of Hare Street was Goodwins, a farm probably named after Godwin of Doe, a local official in In the s, Goodwins belonged to wealthy merchant, John Wallinger. A prosperous stone-merchant, Wallinger dreamed of building a big house. Goodwins was renamed Hare Hall, but it was his nephew, John Arnold Wallinger, who built the Portland stone mansion in The railway was only built in , so Watts was very close to Hare Hall.

By , Watts had been renamed Hare Lodge. It seems to have been a small country house. A fragment of its parkland survives as an Ardleigh Green School play area. To serve the development, Gidea Park station opened in Balgores Lane, to the south. Ancient Hare Street was now surrounded by upstart Gidea Park. A local inn, the Unicorn, was rebuilt as a prominent landmark to serve the growing population. Buses now stopped at the Unicorn, timetables listed Main Road. Hare Street was forgotten. The school dropped Hare Hall from its address in The name moved to a quiet street near the station.

In the s, the new roads around the old mansion were called Hare Park.

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It does not owe its name to Wat Tyler, leader of the Peasants Revolt. Others point out that tiles were not manufactured in England in Saxon times, and suggest that Tigel was a person. The M25 slices through a remnant of that woodland. The common formed part of the manor of Upminster Hall, granted in to Waltham Abbey by Earl Harold, later the king defeated at the battle of Hastings. This term was applied to the ground between the trenches in the War.

In , Waltham Abbey was fined by King Richard the Lionheart for enclosing acres of waste land. Thus Mannes Land shrunk to the 78 acres of Tylers Common. Writing in , Upminster historian T. Wilson said Tylers Common was woodland until about Part of Gaynes Manor, and called Upminster Common, it was enclosed in Tylers Common is often called after its vanished neighbour.

Tylers Common survived because the owners of Upminster Hall, and lords of the manor, the Branfills, were active Liberals, the party of the people. They agreed with a popular rhyme:. But the Branfills could be tough.

In , Tylers Common was ploughed to grow food in the fight against Hitler. In , local campaigners won a famous court case. A memorial stone opposite the Common honours their victory.

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The origins of the Territorial Army now the Army Reserve can be traced back to a war scare in Press and public were swept by fears that France might suddenly land troops on our shores, seizing London before the Royal Navy could stop them. Volunteer units of riflemen sprang up, many attracted by glamorous uniforms and the pretend-drama of warfare.

When Prussia smashed France in , the British government realised the importance of training its citizen soldiers. Germany could mobilise its entire adult male population. Most men had military training. Officially the open space was called Tylers Common, to distinguish it from another Upminster Common on Shepherds Hill, enclosed in The acre open space provided an obvious military training ground. Unluckily, it was Whitsun, a public holiday weekend, and many part-time soldiers preferred to stay home with their families. An April date in brought a better turn-out, and exciting war games.

Captain Fry, who lived at Fairkytes, now a Havering arts centre in Billet Lane, Hornchurch, commanded men from two local companies defending the Common. They were attacked in a pincer move. Tylers Common was plagued by illegal gravel-diggers. When mock hostilities ceased, both armies rushed for refreshments generously provided by their officers. Good intelligence and rapid deployment was the key to the successful defence of Tylers Common in The Hornchurch men expected the Brentwood company to advance down Warley Hill, but scouts spotted the attackers marching along Nags Head Lane. Quickly half the defenders regrouped to form an ambush at the north-west corner of the Common, while the other half concealed themselves near Harold Court Road.

The Brentwood force made the mistake of opening fire at one thousand yards. But Hornchurch held fire until the attackers were trapped in their planned killing ground. After bravely charging the Hornchurch position, the Brentwood men attempted a flanking move, only to be overwhelmed by the reinforcements hidden in the fields. But when Britain needs them, in world wars or peace-keeping campaigns, reservists are ready to fight. Many lost their lives in Afghanistan. Italy has architecture. Havering has buildings.

As you have to live them, you deserve to have your own opinion. Borough libraries have copies for loan and reference. Few people have heard of church architect J. Crowe, but we can compare his local efforts. Built in , its red brick is friendly and its rustic mini-spire downright funny. Many modern buildings are basically boxes. Harold Wood Library is a quiet triumph. Its awkward corner site in Arundel Road makes possible windows everywhere, flooding it with welcoming light.

South Hornchurch Library, in Rainham Road, has a charming greenhouse roof. It looks as if it wanted to be a swimming pool. But what do you think? See that glass staircase tower? OK, we can all laugh. But do you like it? Walk round inside. Is it too hot, too bare, too pompous? Or does it quietly do its job? We should all have opinions about architecture, because architecture is all around us. Even in Havering. The hallmark of Norman architecture was the round-headed arch, often decorated with zigzags. Rainham parish church is a fine late Norman building, with a massive chancel arch.

Did its squat Norman tower double as a fortress? Ignore the Tudor brickwork topping and look at those menacing slit windows. Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio had dogmatic ideas. Buildings, he insisted in , should imitate Roman temples. They must be perfectly balanced. If there were two windows and a column on the left side, there must be the same on the right. The Internet has a lot of information about its architect, James Paine. Were his bigger houses stern and overbearing? Paine probably did not take much trouble in Havering.

Hare Hall looks like a dusted-down version of his earlier project, Belford Hall in Northumberland. But his contemporary, Nicholas Hawksmoor, had intriguing ideas. Two of them can be glimpsed from the Docklands Light Railway. But the end product was curious, a church that looks like a water tower. The Internet tracks how his ideas developed from his Havering beginnings. The early twentieth century saw the Garden City movement, which aimed to blur the distinction between town and country with suburbs of pretty, cottage-like houses.

Marked by severe straight lines and explosive decoration, it was commonly used for cinemas, such as Mecca Bingo in Hornchurch. Art Deco disliked traditional sloping roofs. A row of flat-roofed houses was built on Eastern Avenue opposite Rise Park in , but the idea never caught on locally. You can start right here in Havering. I bought Short Spins Around London at a jumble sale over fifty years ago.

A guide for cyclists, it gave me my first glimpse of Havering before the suburbs arrived. Cycling was massively popular at that time. The bicycle offered freedom and cheap exercise. There were few cars on the roads, and it was easy to dodge horses and wagons. Only main highways had tarmac. Minor road were often hazardous because loose shingle was roughly dumped to create a surface, cutting into bicycle tyres and sometimes causing punctures. Beyond was a park, recently gifted to the public by politician Herbert Raphael.

Another alternative was to turn right at Ilford. Half a century after I bought it, Short Spins seems twopence well spent! Soon there were girls too. Benny Hill and Sean Connery played in a charity football match which raised money for smart uniforms. But, in , a bizarre incident threatened their reputation. The Corps were rehearsing a Sousa march in a field at Grange Hill, Chigwell, when a local farmer denounced them. They had scared his cattle, he claimed. Five valuable cows had been killed in a stampede.

Newspapers around the world picked up the story and treated it as a joke. Brownlee was fascinated. In one experiment, an underground warhead had blown a steel cover into the air. A Pershing had crashed into a field of American cows, he told colleague Dr Paul Mutschlecner, and the beasts had just strolled away. Well, replied Mutschlecner, that Hornchurch band is obviously more lethal than our rocket.

As they were visiting to Britain in , the two men decided to check for themselves. If the band practised in a field, Hornchurch, they reckoned, must be a small town, easy to locate. Being pushy Yanks, they also wrote to Prince Philip asking him to supervise a test. Buckingham Palace, used to eccentrics, charmingly replied that the Duke was busy.

For Brian Keeler, the surprise letter from Los Alamos offered a welcome relief. At competitions, supporters of rival bands mooed during their performances. He arranged to meet the Americans outside Westminster Abbey and bring them to Hornchurch. The chairman of Hornchurch Council drove them in his official limousine to Upminster Bridge stadium, where a crowd was waiting. Of course the band performed superbly. That story went round the world too. A BBC interviewer got hold of the joke that the Hornchurch lads were more dangerous than the American rocket. That gave Brownlee a bad moment, for the missile was still shrouded in secrecy.

The Pershing was decommissioned in A fund-raising event was needed for the circulating library, a collection of books that had no home but were lent out for Hornchurch people to read. Joseph Fry decided to hold a Spelling Bee, a contest to find the local walking dictionary. Son of Elizabeth Fry, famous Quaker campaigner for prison reform, he actively supported Hornchurch causes. Fry lived at Fairkytes in Billet Lane, now a Havering arts centre. Father of eleven, Fry had a ready-made organising team.

Round by round, lists of increasingly tricky words were dictated to the contestants. Each round was followed by a musical interlude, while the judges checked their answers, identifying the weakest links. Thomas Wedlake manufactured farm implements in a local Foundry. Spelling Bees were one of the few Victorian events where women could compete against men. Now, with only the experts left, it became a battle of attrition. Round five saw a sensational upset.

Now there were just three left, facing the toughest list of all. Maybe the Hornchurch Spelling Bee could be revived as an annual event. But why not call it West Rainham or East Dagenham? The tree-trunk bridge in Rainham Road South was probably barely a footbridge. South Hornchurch was originally the South End of the vast manor of Havering. Local agriculture was long dominated by cattle raising. Animals were grazed on the lush lowland meadows in summer but moved to drier, higher ground in winter.

But Southend Road recalls the older name. By the 19th century, South Hornchurch was a thriving community but a bit of a Cinderella. A mission church opened in Southend Road , but it had no resident clergyman. Services were taken by a lay reader, except when the Vicar of Hornchurch visited to give Holy Communion. The tin church was only replaced in Whybridge primary school dates back to the same period. By , it was teaching children. North-south links were weak. Meanwhile, market gardening had taken over in South Hornchurch and Rainham.

The area specialised in spring cabbages and autumn fruit. But there was a hitch. Thousands of tons of manure were shipped downriver each year. And it was not just horses. The stink at Rainham Creek, where the barges were shovelled out, was notorious. The cabbages and the cherries flourished, but the respectable suburbanites further north held their noses and turned their backs. Streets like Sunningdale Road and Elmer Gardens lacked tarmac and sewerage even in the mids. I remember them!

Patchy development helps explain the survival of two South Hornchurch farmhouses, Albyns and Bretons. In , Dr Edward Canny Ryall began to ask: how could his 33 year-old hospital clerk afford to rent a country house in Hornchurch? The distinguished surgeon had founded All Saints Hospital in to deal with kidney infections. It depended on donations. Ryall often paid the bills himself. Frederick Panter was appointed as hospital secretary in July He had experience of raising money to train midwives in West Ham.

Somehow, by January , Panter was quietly pocketing percent. He and his wife had rented Ford Lodge, an eighteenth-century farmhouse which stood in Ford Lane, opposite Brittons Academy. Ford Close marks the boundaries of its nine-acre mini-park. Ordered to pay it into the bank, he later produced a forged paying-in slip. Meanwhile, Panter converted Ford Lodge into a convalescent hospital for Belgian soldiers. Thousands of Belgians were refugees from the fighting. Hiring a nurse, the Panters took nine of them into Ford Lodge. Belgium was an intensely Catholic country.

As Catholics, Belgians were forbidden to attend Protestant services. One of them, an accomplished musician, played a cello solo at a Sunday service. Panter was using the poor Belgians as props. At Westminster magistrates court, his barrister, Mr Goodman, ridiculed the charges. The Belgian hospital project showed that Panter was a high-minded do-gooder. But a close look at the books was enough to make lawyer Goodman change his mind. He struck a deal. Panter pleaded guilty to embezzlement. The more serious charges of forgery were dropped. The magistrate was unhappy about this, but accepted that All Saints wished to avoid the expense and bad publicity of a criminal trial.

He escaped lightly. The Belgians deserve our sympathy. Driven into exile, they were used as dupes to cover a scam. The study of place names is great fun, because it combines abstruse scholarship with wild guess work. The Saxon arrived around AD -- but they created few written records, and most place names were first recorded in Domesday Book, the tax ledger compiled in , years after the early settlers had named the landscape around them.

In that time, speech had changed -- the English language had diverged from German. And the bureaucrats who compiled Domesday Book were French-speaking Normans who couldn't always understand the peasants. It's a fair guess that Thameside Rainham was one of the first places the newcomers occupied. So -- does the name mean that those early Saxons grumbled about the weather?

Was Rainham the "ham" farm or hamlet where the sun never shone? Most Essex place-name theories come from two brilliant men, both active decades ago. Dr Percy H. Reaney was a Walthamstow schoolteacher. Appropriately, his name was pronounced to rhyme with "brainy". In he published the massive Place Names of Essex. Ekwall and Reaney considered the earliest evidence -- two versions of the name in Domesday Book, one "Renaham", the other "Raineham". Although Rainham, Essex was not recorded before , there was an earlier form for the identical Rainham, Kent.

It led the two formidable scholars to make a bold guess. The Kentish version suggested an Old English verb, "rogian", meaning "to prevail". Perhaps Rainham was the place of some powerful family -- maybe royalty? The Normans would have heard it as a similar French word, which gives us "reign". We know little more than the names of the rulers of the old East Saxon kingdom, which included not just Essex but also Middlesex and part of Herts. If they travelled by boat, Rainham would have made a sensible stopping-off place.

Unfortunately, as academic guesswork goes, that was about that. But in , two years after Dr Reaney's book, there was a sensational archaeological find in a gravel pit near Gerpins Lane, between Rainham and Upminster. It was a Saxon burial ground that obviously belonged to important people. There were swords, bits of shields, and -- unique to England -- the remains of two elegant glass drinking horns.

These luxury items suggest the powerful rulers guessed at by Prof. Ekwall and Dr Reaney. Two coins dated the graves to around A. There may be another clue. Legend associates Helena with Colchester, the only other place in Essex to have a church dedicated to her. A Rainham-Colchester link again suggests the East Saxon royal family.

So don't think of Rainham as the damp and drizzly place. Instead, let's celebrate it as the majestic home of the long-lost kings of Essex. Well, perhaps! The ebbing tide poured from Rainham Creek, leaving a few barges stranded on the Ingrebourne mud. Many passengers headed below decks to join the singsong in the saloon where a band was playing. Just tons, the Princess Alice had been built of timber on the Clyde in and called the Bute. Sailors believed it was unlucky to rename a ship.

Amazingly, this tiny craft was licensed to transport passengers. Nobody knew how many she carried that fateful day. Small children did not require tickets. Victorians produced hordes of toddlers. She was on a regular holiday run, from London Bridge to Sheerness, stopping at Gravesend, where the Rosherville Gardens were a proto-Disneyland, popular with Cockneys.

In holiday good humour, day trippers still on deck actually cheered when they spotted a sturdy collier sailing downstream towards them. The Bywell Castle was four times the size of the Princess Alice, and she had an iron hull. The Princess Alice was close to the north bank. Guided by an experienced Thames pilot, the captain of the Bywell Castle decided to pass on his port side.

But the powerful ebbing tide swirled around the bend on the Essex side, too fast for the tiny paddle steamer. Suddenly, the Princess Alice turned towards the slack water directly ahead of the Bywell Castle. The collier sliced into her like matchwood, skewering her timber hull. Too late, the Bywell Castle rammed her engines full astern. The Princess Alice broke into two. Both halves sank within four minutes. Hundreds of people were drowned below decks. Ropes were lowered to save floundering passengers, but as soon as people grabbed hold, they were dragged down by others desperate to save themselves.

The exact death toll is unknown. Probably perished. Nine bodies were recovered at Rainham. Gruesomely, a tenth corpse became wedged underneath the keel of a barge, needing a spring tide to float it free. Its pilot should have known that small vessels tried to avoid the tide race. Some of the safety recommendations were repeated after the Marchioness disaster, when 51 people were drowned in a similar accident in You could argue that local democracy in England began in , with the introduction of parish councils.

No longer would squires and clergymen rule the villages. New people came forward to tackle local issues. In , the Board rejected a proposal to lay a water main to local cottages. The council wanted a one-inch pipe buried 15 inches deep. No, said the Board, it must be a two-inch pipe, three feet deep. Randall formed a double act with Cllr George Saxby, a lighterman whose bluff, blunt wit reflected a lifetime working on Thames barges.

By now, councillors were splitting their sides with mirth. Fowles tried to inject a serious note. There was further hilarity as councillors discussed possible contractors for the cemetery job. How about Mr White, at Barking? No, said Saxby, his name is Brown. Again, Fowles tried to be helpful. But local democracy delivered the goods. It became part of Havering in The six-year stand-off over Lake Avenue, Rainham, pitted local people against squatters, one side arguing that the caravan site was in the wrong place, the other pleading they had nowhere else to go.

And this is a story from the past where we can actually see and hear the people involved. When the Lake Avenue confrontation reached its crisis in , cameras were sent to report on the clash. Pathe News provided a weekly cinema newsreel. This is multi-media Havering history! World War Two left Britain with a housing shortage. Soon there were forty caravans in the small field.

However, Ted Bastow believed in what he was doing. In January , Hornchurch Council went to the High Court, and secured an injunction that would lead to eviction. Pathe News was sympathetic to the squatters. It featured some yummy mummies and a suspiciously well-scrubbed schoolboy. Like most Rainham roads then, Lake Avenue had no tarmac surface. It was a winter mud bath. It was clear that the 40 caravans were crammed too close together, with some spilling out on to the roadway. With people living there, some vans must have been overcrowded. Pathe News said nothing about facilities on the site.

Was there a washhouse? Were there pavements? Who emptied the dustbins? Many Rainham people had come from the East End, seeking a little patch of Essex. In Cockney accents, neighbours put their dignified case to the camera. They had no quarrel with the caravan people but the site was in the wrong place. The story fades away. Although some caravanners threatened to resist eviction, I am sure Hornchurch Council won. Councils usually win in the end. I hope the caravan people were given proper housing. The re-opening of Rainham Hall, the only National Trust property in Havering, on October 7 th , is a moment to look back over three centuries of atmospheric history.

The Hall was built in by mariner and entrepreneur John Harle, who had successfully dredged Rainham Creek so that cargo vessels could unload at his new wharf in the village. Built in the Queen Anne style, the red-brick mansion was probably inspired by the grand merchant houses lining the canals of Amsterdam. Dutch influence can be seen in the fine Delft tiles, many showing maritime scenes, that still decorate the mansion.

Harle was succeeded by his son, another John, who joined the new Methodist movement to pep up religious life in Rainham. When sermons were preached in the Anglican parish church, the congregation often fell asleep. But forcing his way in and finding the AGA-style kitchen stove alight, Dearsly pushed Valton across it and tried to roast him alive. Somehow the preacher escaped, evading the mob who planned to cool him off in a pond. Brady was the son of Sir Antonio Brady, a wealthy civil servant and amateur scientist, who lived at Maryland near Stratford, then a residential district.

Backed by family money and wanting to be near his father, Nicholas Brady became Rector of Wennington, a job so poorly paid that few clergymen had ever bothered to live locally. A local school honours his name. A scientific enthusiast himself, the Rector built a physics laboratory in the attic of Rainham Hall and experimented with electricity. When the Reverend Brady reviewed his career, one event that stood out was the January snowstorm, which buried a train in a Rainham snowdrift, stranding the passengers all night without food or heating.

As Rainham became built up, the Hall ceased to be suitable as a country house. In , it passed to the National Trust. The Trust let Rainham Hall to a series of tenants, including some exotic personalities. In , one of them publicly argued that no criminal should be punished, he argued. Rather, all lawbreakers should be treated as persons needing to be cured from illness. I doubt whether many Rainham people agreed. But, in the far south of the Borough, tiny Wennington clings to its identity. She may have given her name to Aveley.

Only three families lived here in , and in the population was just When Rector Henry Bust died in , it would be years before another clergyman bothered to live locally. Part of the church was demolished around In fact, in this scattered community, there was really no village centre until houses were built at The Green in the s. Wennington was mostly marshland. Lonely Coldharbour, beside the Thames, was an island until around A narrow creek led to a wharf yards west of the church, where produce was shipped up the Thames to the monks of Westminster Abbey.

The creek was blocked off around Sir John Gildesborough, a hated royal official, owned land at Wennington. Rebels ransacked his property.


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Despite its small population, Wennington ran its own affairs. It continued to elect its parish constable, with an ornate staff of office, until , over thirty years after the establishment of the Essex Police. In , a desperate character called Peter Godfrey stole a prayer book from the church.

Godfrey was transported to Australia for life. In the 19th century, Wennington became a market gardening area, specialising in peas and — later — rhubarb and asparagus. Tiny Wennington was always on the route to somewhere else. By , there was a main road from London to military installations at Purfleet and Tilbury. In , Wennington was by-passed to the north by New Road A By the s, a motorway-style A13 ran to the south. The last one retired in , although some still operate for tourists on the Blackwater.

In the year , the community celebrated the Millennium with a commemorative map. Its feisty website, www. The old name of the river, still used in Collier Row, was Bourne Brook. The Chelmer at Chelmsford and the Wid at Widford are similar made-up names. Romney Marsh in Kent, with its wide open spaces, is an example.

But does the theory fit the locality? You could hardly call the Rom a wide river! Was the ford wide from side to side? A century ago, the A crossed the Rom near Roneo Corner through a water splash, with a footbridge to one side. Until , there was a similar wide ford-and-bridge crossing over the Ingrebourne at Upminster Bridge.

A Swedish expert, Professor Eilert Ekwall, doubted the spacious-ford theory. Runnymede, the island in the Thames, is an example of the term. King John famously conceded Magna Carta there years ago because Runnymede was a traditional meeting place between monarch and barons. Runwell, near Wickford, was probably a well where gatherings took place. Ekwall studied all of England. Romford was the midpoint for the royal manor of Havering which stretched from Noak Hill to the Thames. Rochester in Kent was Durobrivae. A gruff bear of a man, brilliantly played by Robbie Coltrane in Blackadder, Johnson was noted for acid sayings.

There were few magazines in 18th-century England. One marketing technique was to publish them anonymously. Readers speculated about the writers, generating useful publicity. One feature was a series of pen portraits of familiar stereotypes. Johnson gave them exaggerated classical names. There was Testrica, the sad old maid, Serviculus, who was hunting for a wealthy bride, and greedy Cupidus.

It was all great fun up in Town, but not so in Romford. Romford in had a population of maybe one thousand. Shops and houses crowded the High Street and the Market. There was some building in North Street, but the town had hardly spread into Hornchurch Lane, the future South Street. People made their own entertainment. They joked about the character sketches in the Rambler. Romford had its own sad spinsters and wide boys on the make.

Why, you could almost imagine that the articles had been written about us! Somebody was carousing in their club and then lampooning them behind their backs! Who was behind the publication? This caused consternation.

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