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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Boroughs of London (1): Barking & Dagenham

Welcome to my new project which is a tour of all of the Boroughs of London since Greater London was formed in April 1965. I will be looking at interesting buildings and other stuff (to be frank I'm not sure how this will pan-out yet!) London has been described as a series of villages and each Borough contains several different areas or districts all of which were probably actual villages at one time. There are 32 Boroughs and I will also include the City of London which is not actually a Borough but an administrative area (much like the status of Washington DC in the US).
In alphabetical order, Barking and Dagenham is where we start:
As the name implies, Barking and Dagenham were formerly two separate boroughs before the creation of Greater London. They were then within the county of Essex, one of the 'Home Counties' which is the name given to those counties which surround London in the south-east of England. Hand-axes and other tools have been found in the area dating from the Palaeolithic era about 10,000 years ago and the names both date from Anglo-Saxon times before the Normal invasion of 1066.
Eastbury Manor House, Barking, built 1573 during the reign of Elizabeth I
Eastbury Manor House was originally in an isolated position, on rising ground with views of the Thames across marshland to the south. Rescued from ruin in 1918 by the National Trust, the exterior retains its original appearance. Tree-ring analysis shows that the roof timbers were felled in the spring of 1566.  It's now used as a meeting and community centre.

The other truly remarkable building in the borough is (the ruins of) Barking Abbey. Like so many ancient monastic buildings in Great Britain it fell into ruin in 1539  when Henry VIII was instrumental in starting the English Protestant Reformation when the Pope would not grant him a divorce. Barking Abbey was a very important community and a major land-owner in the area with it's influence spreading for many miles around. The ruins shown below are less than five minutes walk from Barking Town centre.

Barking Abbey operated for nearly 900 years and was a vastly wealthy community

Continuing my new experiment of naming the music I am listening to while posting or commenting - right now it's: The Proclamers 'Sunshine on Leith'. Listen on You Tube:


Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I am going to enjoy these posts of yours, Bazza, as I love history. We only have 500 years in the States and it is fun and interesting to look back further.

bazza said...

Hi Arleen. That's good to hear.
I do believe that Native Americans might tell you that they were there at least 12,000 before Columbus. So from an archaeological point of view you do have a lot of history!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

This is true, Bazza. Unfortunately, the white man destroyed much of their history.

bazza said...

Quite so, sadly.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - I'll be back to read this properly .. just off to London! Interesting about Barking Abbey - I'm about to do a presentation on the Dissolution of the Monasteries .. so I'll be around to read properly ..

This should be a really interesting series ... cheers Hilary

bazza said...

Hello Hilary. Henry VIII's actions probably had as much effect on England's history as any other person except, maybe William I and Churchill. The dissolution of the monasteries is one of the most fascinating aspects of our history. Interestingly Barking Abbey owned lots of local land and churches; those deemed to be parish churches escaped the chop!
Continuing my new experiment of naming the music I am listening to while posting or commenting - right now it's: Carol King's 'I Wasn't Born To Follow' - wonderful lyrics.
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

loverofwords said...

The Abbey looks beautiful like all aging beauties do. The basic bones are there. I am looking up your music selections, so far was not familiar with most of them--oh the negative aspects of being older!

bazza said...

Hi Natasha. Older? You? Me? The ruins?

John said...

Hi Bazza,
Another fascinating project!As you know, history is another of my passions, so this looks to be right up my street! Looking forward to the next instalment.
The Proclaimers are slightly better than Bryan Adams, I suppose!

bazza said...

Hi John. I'm not sure yet how much of this series will be history. It depends what I find out!
I quite like the Proclaimers; they seem to me to be always miserable.

Sherry Ellis said...

What a beautiful place! I'd like to wander around the grounds there.

bazza said...

Hi Sherry. The grounds around the Abbey are lovely but it is in a rather unappealing district. When I worked near there you would hear the sounds of police cars and ambulances all day long!
Continuing my new experiment of naming the music I am listening to while posting or commenting - right now it's: Julian Bream and John Williams playing Fernando Sor's Fantasie for Two Guitars. It's quite lovely. Listen on You Tube:
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - bit late getting back ... but I'm really going to enjoy these posts.

I love how they can find out so much about our history .. via archaeological digs, the landscape, and various analyses of remains - tree rings as here (while bones, dental records etc)...

I'm glad Eastbury Manor House was rescued by the NT ... such an interesting organisation.

I'm finding out about the Dissolution - it came in two phases ... so your notes here could give me a pointer for my talk. They don't blog ... but I'll use Barking Abbey as another reference ...

Cheers Hilary

bazza said...

Hi Hilary. I already know that some of the other London boroughs will provide more on this. My own borough of Redbridge borders B&D and was hugely influenced by Barking Abbey's domination.
I am fascinated by your upcoming speech on the Dissolution. Would you be prepared to let me read your notes at some time?

loverofwords said...

Ah, Bazza, everytime I click on your blog, I see the "To Discover Ice" quote--such an intense image, the best. Tonight, I am watching "Secrets of Underground London,"on our PBS Channel. Looking forward to it. Nothing is as good as watching British programs on Sunday night. Also, "Doc Martin" on Thursday nights here.

bazza said...

Hello Natasha. I think it's the contrast between fire (as in 'firing squad') and 'ice' that makes that sentence have such an impact.
I just found out that PBS is now available on a satellite channel in the UK. We do get endless repeats of Doc Martin which is a program that I never really got into.
Also, I don't know about 'Secrets of Underground London' but it sound s like something worth seeing!