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Silvertown and Neighbourhood (Archer Philip Crouch)
History of the West ham parish
(Extracts from 1900 )
North Woolwich Part 3
From Chapters two to four
The marshes of East and West Ham show traces of Roman reclamation work in the counter-walls or embankments which they raised against the Thames. At Uphall, between Barking and Ilford are to be seen the remains of a Roman encampment.
Manor Way, which runs from East Ham to the river, was in all probability a Roman road, built to facilitate the reclamation of the marshes. During the construction of the Northern Outfall Sewer in 1863 some Roman coffins were found close to Manor Way. These were taken to the parish church, and subsequently removed to the British Museum.
The marshes appear to have been formed in historic times, for in the peat stratum of the Victoria Docks were found a millstone and a brass dish, while a canoe 27 feet long was dug out during the excavations for the Albert Docks.
West Ham Park has a Rooke Hall recorded as the earliest house on the estate, after its owner. Bought by the Smyth family in 1666, and sold nearly a hundred years later to Elliot, an Admiral. In 1762, Dr Fothergill purchased the estate and increased its size from thirty, to sixty acres. In a few years it became one of the finest gardens in Europe, containing upwards of three thousand four hundred distinct species of exotic plants.
On his death in 1780, outlying portions of the estate were sold, and the name of the house changed from Upton House to Ham House. In 1800, Mr James Shepherd bought the property, leaving it on his death twelve years later to his daughter who had married Samuel Gurney.
Samuel died in 1856, and his eldest son a few months later. The house was taken by his sister, Lady Buxton, whilst his grand children stayed in Norwich. She left the house in 1868, and four years later, the building was pulled down. The park was purchased for the Public, and opened on the 20th July 1874.
Within the confines of the park, in its own grounds, is a house called ‘The Cedars’ formerly known as Upton Lane House. It was built by Samuel Gurney, and his sister Elizabeth Fry resided there from 1829 to 1844.
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