East Ham – Six Historical Facts

Today East Ham is a multicultural hotpot of activity – hard to believe it was once desolate marsh-land and forest. Here are five interesting facts about how it has evolved to be the outer city bustling suburb that we know today.

  1. The name ‘East Ham’ has Anglo-Saxon roots

In Anglo-Saxon England the word ‘hamme’ meant village or low-lying pasture and this is where the ‘Ham’ part derives from.  The former part of the town’s name came after the Norman Conquest when the manor was divided between East and West and the title East Ham was coined

  1. In 1066 East Ham was worth £10

If William the Conqueror had come to East Ham in 1066 he would have been able to purchase the whole of it for £10. At this price William could have bought 8 cattle and 22 pigs, 59 acres of meadow with woodland, 38 villagers, 30 smallholders and 3 slaves.

  1. Tudor royalty haunts East Ham

Local legend has it that Henry VIII built a castle on Green Street for his then lover and second wife Anne Boleyn.  In 1904 West Ham built their grounds on the area and hence the name: Boleyn Ground.  In 1904 the club introduced the “castle” in the background of their badge to reference the fact the land they played on was home to an old Tudor castle. See the pics below to see the difference!

  1. In the 19th Century East Ham was famous for potato growing

Today East Ham is famous for its South Indian restaurants, but it was once famous for its output of potatoes and turnips.  A farm named Plashet Hall during the earlier 19th century even earned the nickname Potato Hall!

  1. Between 1851 and 1911 East Ham’s population grew by 7585%

During the 1890s East Ham was growing faster than any other town of its size in England. This in part was due to railways reaching the area. In 1858 East Ham railway station opened. This was followed by the connection of East Ham station to the District Line in 1902.  From 1851 to 1911 the population of East Ham grew from 1,737 to 133,487 (7,585%).

  1. 36 bombs were dropped on East Ham in World War 2

East Ham suffered heavy bombing during WW2. In 1939 nearly 16,000 residents were evacuated and 32,000 from neighbouring West Ham. Today on November 11th the community remembers those who died, at the Cenotaph in Central Park. So there we have it – five facts about how the East Ham community has evolved, changed and stood strong over the past 1,000 years. We can only guess what it will look like in this many years from now – all ideas welcome.

By Greatfield Residents Association member Naomi


Open Doomsday: http://domesdaymap.co.uk/place/TQ4283/east-ham/

East Ham economic history and marshes: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol6/pp14-18

East Ham local government and public services: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol6/pp18-24 http://bombsight.org/explore/greater-london/newham/east-ham-central/


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