East Ham

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2, Central and South west. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1921.

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'East Ham', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2, Central and South west, (London, 1921) pp. 58-61. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/essex/vol2/pp58-61 [accessed 24 April 2024]

In this section

22. EAST HAM. (B.f.)

(O.S. 6 in. lxxiii. S.E.)

East Ham is a parish and suburb of London lying between W. Ham and Barking. The Church and Boleyn Castle are both important monuments.


(1). Roman coffins, tiles, pottery, etc., have been found in various parts of the parish, especially in the churchyard and in the peat 8 ft. to 9 ft. below the surface of the tidal mud when the Albert Dock was dug in the Plaistow and East Ham levels in 1878–9. (Arch. Jour. XXI. 94, XLII. 275; C. R. Smith, Collect. Antiqua, VII. 191; Essex Arch. Soc. Trans., N.S., X. 19; Proc. Soc. Ant. 2nd Ser., III. 92. The finds are now in the British Museum.) Similar finds occur all along the marshes on both sides of the river, but are rarely associated with definite architectural remains, and appear to represent a widely scattered working population living mostly in hut-circles and sheds (see Sectional Preface, p. xxix).


(2). Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene stands in the S. part of the parish. The walls are of rag-stone rubble coursed, except in the tower which is plastered; the roofs are of tiles and slates. The Apse, Chancel and Nave were built in the first half of the 12th century. Early in the 16th century the West Tower was added or re-built and the chancel-arch and vault removed; a S. porch was added perhaps at the same time. The church was restored in the 19th century when the South Porch was re-built; the West Porch is also modern.

The church is interesting as a complete 12th-century building with an apse; among the fittings the early 17th-century monument and font and the 13th-century piscina and paintings are noteworthy.

Architectural Description—The Apse (Plate p. 61) (10½ ft. by 13 ft.), has two flat pilaster buttresses dividing it into three bays each with a single-light window; those on the E. and N. are of the 12th century with round heads; the S. window has been enlarged into a lancet in the 13th century; W. of it is a mid 13th-century doorway with inner order rounded, double chamfered jambs and two-centred head and moulded rear-arch; it is now blocked. The 12th-century arch across the chord of the apse is semi-circular and of two plain orders interrupted by moulded imposts returned along the W. face.

The Chancel (Plate p. 60) (22 ft. by 19 ft.) has in the N. wall a 12th-century window with a round head; further E. is a blocked archway probably of early 16th-century date, with a segmental head; the archway was not pierced through the wall and communicated with the chancel only by a small hatch with a rounded head and remains of iron fastenings. This arrangement seems to indicate the former existence of an ankar-hold outside the church; the lower part of the wall has a 12th-century intersecting wall-arcade of round arches with continuous cheveron ornament; the arcade was originally of seven bays but the three eastern have been partly destroyed by the former doorway and by a monument; W. of the arcade is an early 16th-century doorway with a three-centred head; it was probably the entrance to the former rood-loft staircase and is now blocked. In the S. wall is a 17th or 18th-century window of three rounded lights in a square head; the former wall-arcade on this side has been cut away except for part of one bay at each end; the W. bay was pierced in the 13th century by a narrow lancet window, probably a 'low-side' and now blocked. In the two E. angles of the chancel are 12th-century vaulting-shafts, now plastered. There is no chancel arch.

The Nave (53½ ft. by 23 ft.) has in the N. wall three windows; the two eastern are modern, the western window is a single 12th-century light with a round head. In the S. wall are three windows, the easternmost and westernmost are modern; the middle window is uniform with the western window in the N. wall; E. of the easternmost window is part of the internal head of a 12th-century window, now blocked; between the two western windows is the 12th-century S. doorway, much restored, with a round arch of two orders, the outer roll-moulded and the inner modern, the jambs are restored except for the scalloped capital of the W. shaft; E. of the easternmost window is a 13th-century recess with a moulded two-centred arch and label; it was evidently cut to provide more space for a nave altar.

East Ham, The Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene.

The West Tower (13½ ft. by 14 ft.) is of three stages, undivided externally, and has an embattled parapet and buttresses enlarged or repaired with brick. In the E. wall of the ground stage is the 12th-century W. doorway of the church with a semi-circular arch of three moulded orders; the inner order forms a half round; the jambs have each three attached shafts with cushion capitals, square moulded abaci and moulded bases. In the W. wall is a round-headed doorway, probably modern. The second stage has in the W. wall two tall, round-headed windows entirely coated with cement. The bell-chamber has in each wall an early 16th-century window, originally of two two-centred lights under a four-centred head with a moulded label; the W. window has been altered and the E. window re-built in the 18th century.

The Roof of the S. porch incorporates some early 16th-century timbers.

Fittings—Bell: one; inscribed in Lombardic capitals, "Dulcis Sisto Melis Vocor Campana Gabrielis," c. 1380. Brasses: In apse—(1) inscription recording bequest of Robert Rampston, 1585; (2) loose inscription to William Johnson, 1631, broken slab belonging to this brass with indents of shield, swaddled infant and inscription plate; (3) to Mary (Coleman), wife of William Johnson [1634], achievement of arms, incised inscription in stone and indent of plate. In chancel —(4) of Elizabeth (Harvey), wife of Richard Heigham, 1622, figure of woman and two shields of arms; (5) of Hester, wife of Francis Neve, 1610, figure of woman and shield of arms. Chairs: In chancel—two; with carved and pierced backs turned legs and shaped rails, probably late 17th-century. Font: (Plate p. xxxii), white veined marble bowl, circular with shield of arms and inscribed, "The Gift of Sir Richard Heigham Knight to the parish of Eastham, Ao. Dni. 1639"; baluster stem, later. Glass; In nave—in N.W. window, shield of arms, reversed, and fragments of scroll work, late 16th or early 17th-century. Helm: In chancel—on S. wall, funeral helm with visor and Heigham crest, c. 1600. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In apse—(1) of Edward Nevill, Lord Latimer and Earl of Westmoreland, Jane, his wife [1647], and Katherine, his daughter, 1613, combined altar-tomb and wall-monument, altar-tomb with figures of three sons and four daughters in front, wall-monument with kneeling figures of man in armour and cloak and lady at prayer-desk all in an enriched and arched recess, flanked by carved pilasters supporting an entablature on which stand two figures of Hope and Prudence and an achievement of arms, elaborate heraldry; round tomb, wrought iron railing with ornamental standards, early 17th-century; (2) to William Heigham, 1620, and Anne (Stoneley), his wife, 1612, tablet with enriched marble frame flanked by cherubs and supporting an achievement of arms, three other shields of arms; on S. respond of arch, (3) to Marie, daughter of Sir Richard Heigham, 1621, black and veined marble tablet with lozenge of arms. In chancel—on E. wall, (4) to Elizabeth (Harvey), wife of Sir Richard Heigham, 1622, tablet with scrolled and carved frame and three shields of arms; on N. wall, (5) of Giles, son of Arthur Breame, 1621, wall-monument with kneeling figures of man and wife in two arched recesses flanked by Ionic pilasters supporting entablature and two obelisks, five shields of arms; on E. and N. walls, two cherub heads and a cartouche of arms, fragments of monuments, early 17th-century. In churchyard (6) to Thomas Huthed, 1657, and Ailse, his wife, head-stone; (7) to Thomas Symonds, 1705, table-tomb; (8) Alexander Henderson, 1702, low table-tomb; (9) to Thomas Rake (?), 1697, head-stone; (10) to Richard Borneford, 1702, and to Katherine Harris, 1702, table-tomb with shield of arms. Floor-slabs: In nave—(1) to Warnewood, daughter of Thomas Johnson, 1678; (2) to Samuel Hunton, c. 1700, with shield of arms. Painting: In apse— wall masoned with red lines, each section in upper part with small flower, original window openings with border of sham voussoirs, early 13th-century. On soffit of apse-arch and round chancel walls at ceiling level, running ornament of conventional foliage, part concealed by ceiling, early 13th-century. In nave—other paintings visible in 1863 now obliterated. Panelling: In chancel— on S. wall, dado of oak, upper panel with strapwork ornament, early 17th-century. Piscina: In apse—double, with moulded jambs and trefoiled heads resting on a central shaft with moulded capital and base, all set in a moulded, two-centred outer order having shafted jambs with moulded capitals and bases, in the tympanum, a square bracket on a scalloped capital with a head corbel under it, quatre-foiled drains, mid 13th-century, bracket and capital, late 12th-century, re-used. Plate: includes cup of 1563, cover-paten of 1574; large cup and cover-paten of 1623, given in 1624.

Condition—Good, except parts of tower.


(3). Boleyn Castle, house, tower and garden wall, about 1¼ m. N.W. of the church. The House is generally of two storeys; the walls are of red brick and the roofs are covered with tiles and slates. The building is of very irregular plan but practically the whole of it appears to have been built about the middle of the 16th century and to have then consisted of a Great Hall (1) (now the Billiard room) with a long range at the W. end (2) and a Kitchen block on the E. (3 and 4), a staircase wing (5 and 6) (now staircase and Bar) extending S. of the Kitchen block, and a three storeyed tower (7) on the E. of it. Late in the 17th century the upper parts of the Hall, W. range and staircase wing were partly re-built and the Kitchen block refronted or entirely re-built. In the 18th century a wing was added E. of the tower and there is a modern addition E. of the Kitchen block.

The house has interesting remains of the 16th and 17th century, and the staircase is noteworthy.

Elevations—The S. Front towards the garden has in the original parts an inserted plain brick band between the storeys except in the Hall block where there is a moulded string-course, both of the 17th century; below these courses the brickwork is original, while above them the wall appears to have been partly re-built. The S. end of the W. range and the whole of the staircase wing have eaves-cornices; the Hall block has two added gables. The S.E. angle of the W. range is splayed off but is brought to a square below the band-course by original brick corbelling. The tower, of three storeys, is entirely original and has a square projecting turret at the S.W. angle and a plain parapet on oversailing courses with brick blocks; the parapet of the turret rests on small three-centred arches. All the windows are of the 18th century. At the E. end of the Hall block are traces of a former opening, perhaps the original entrance to the 'screens.'

The W. Elevation has an original wall to the ground storey with black brick diapering; the upper storey has plaster pilasters of the 17th century irregularly disposed and an eaves-cornice. The doorway and windows are of the 18th century.

The N. Elevation is largely covered by adjoining buildings, but the Kitchen block has a late 17th-century front with two gables, one curvilinear and finished with a pediment and the other re-built; below them runs a moulded cornice and between the lower storeys is a moulded band. On the first floor are the heads of two late 17th-century windows, one with a three-centred and one with a square head; both have key-blocks and are now blocked. The two late 17th-century chimneystacks on this side have arched panels in each face with key and impost-blocks.

The E. Elevation is covered by later buildings except the side of the tower which has a parapet similar to that on the S. front and a chimney-stack with crow-stepped offsets, and the flank of the Kitchen block which has a gable similar to that on the N. front and an early 17th-century doorway with a stop moulded frame.

Interior—The former Hall (1) has four chamfered ceiling-beams, probably of the 17th century, and two late 17th-century doorways with eared architraves and panelled doors. The early 17th-century doorway to the kitchen (4) has a stop moulded frame and a doorway opposite has an eared frame. The main staircase (5) is of c. 1600 and has moulded rails and strings, heavy turned balusters and square newels surmounted by high turned vases and finished with turned pendants; the rails, newels and balusters are repeated against the walls. The room S. of the staircase (6) has a late 17th-century door and doorway surmounted by a broken pediment with three shaped terminals; the room itself and that in the ground floor of the Tower are lined with early 18th-century panelling, and the fireplace of the former has a moulded marble architrave (7). On the first floor the main staircase has an opening in the N. wall, fitted with early 17th-century flat-shaped balusters. The main corridors are lined with late 16th or early 17th-century panelling and there is similar panelling in three rooms; two rooms have early 18th-century fireplaces with bolection-moulded architraves. There is one 16th-century doorway with a stop moulded frame and one late 17th-century doorway. In a projection on the N. side of the Hall block (8) is an early 17th-century staircase with masoned strings turned balusters and square newels surmounted by carved terminals of varied designs.

Boleyn Castle.

The Tower (9) is a detached building S. of the house and is of three stages. It is of red brick with an embattled parapet and an embattled stair-turret rising above it. The tower was built about the middle of the 16th century and probably formed a feature at the S.W. angle of the garden and perhaps balanced by another tower at the S.E. angle, now destroyed. The top stage and the parapet of the turret project on oversailing courses ornamented with brick blocks. The windows are set in projecting brick architraves and are of late 17th-century date with moulded wooden frames. The N. doorway has a late 17th-century frame with eared architrave and a fan light. Inside the building are two original doorways with four-centred heads.

The Wall connecting the tower and the house is of mid 16th-century date and of red brick with black brick diapering. It is continued S. of the tower by a 17th-century brick wall.

Condition—Of house, poor; of tower, fairly good.