In the angle formed by the A406 North Circular Road and the A12 Eastern Avenue, to the north of Redbridge and Gants Hill stations, is a district of unremarkable pre-war suburban streets typical of the expanding sprawl of outer east London. A hundred and fifty years ago, though, the area was very different. Then very much part of rural Essex, it was marked by open fields and country estates, criss-crossed by winding lanes and dotted with labourers’ cottages.
Redbridge / Gants Hill today (Bing Maps)
It was here, in Barkingside, that my Londors ancestors lived and worked the land for at least three generations. In this post, I want to use the latest information at my disposal to have another attempt at plotting them on the map, and to see if it’s possible to relate the places they lived in to today’s utterly changed landscape. This research has been prompted by my visit to the area last November, for the funeral of my mother’s sister Vera, and by the realisation that when, in the last years of her life, she moved from East Ham to Gants Hill, Vera was unknowingly very close to where her father had been born, and where her grandfather and great grandfather lived out their lives as farm labourers.
When the 1841 census was taken, my great-great-great grandparents, John and Mary Ann Londors, and their children, were living at Hattons Corner, Barkingside. On the above map, this was just north of Fern Hall and close to Swithins (Farm). On the present-day map, this corresponds roughly to the spot where Roding Lane South meets Woodford Bridge Road (the site of St. Swithins Farm is in the latter road). Next to the Londors family in one direction were East India Company pensioner William Kirby and his wife Elizabeth, and beyond them, at White Hall, Hattons Corner, were schoolmistresses Mary and Sarah Hatton. Beyond White Hall, but still at Hattons Corner, were agricultural labourer John Campion and his family.
Beyond and to the south of Hattons Corner was the area known as Red Bridge (roughly where the station and roundabout are today), home to (among others) Thomas Seaborn, a man of independent means, and his family. In this area we also find Fern Hall, then occupied by farmer John Rumsey and family. (This is also clearly marked on the 19th century map, and commemorated today by Fernhall Drive and Mighell Avenue, the latter named after one of the hall’s owners.) A number of other properties are also to be found at Red Bridge in 1841, including the house occupied by William and Sarah Schofield, the parents of John Londors’ wife Mary Ann. Other properties include White House, home to the Burton family, and the Red House public house: there is still a pub of that name in the same spot.
On the other side of the Londors’ home were a number of homes (cottages?) occupied by other agricultural labourers and their families, including Leonard Harding, William Green, William Pomroy, John Sherman, Joseph Stevens, Samuel Green and James Nelson. After the Nelsons’ cottages came the Claybury Estate at Woodford Bridge, where the family of bailiff John Legg can be found, as can shepherd William Harroway. Next was Claybury Hall, where only the names of two servants are given at this date.
St. Swithins Farm is next to be mentioned, home to farmer Benjamin B. Hatton and his family. Beyond the farm is Hattons Row, which consists of more cottages housing farm labourers.
By 1851, the area in which the Londors family live has become known as ‘Beehive’, presumably after the public house and the lane that ran from it, visible towards the bottom of this map from 1882:
This map also clearly shows Clay Hall, whose grounds survive in the present-day Clayhall Park. The Red House pub and Redbridge Lane, which still exist, can also be seen, and the road that runs alongside the Beehive pub is equivalent to modern Beehive Lane.
The address at this date for John Londors and his family is given simply as ‘Beehive’. Their next door neighbours on one side are, once again, the Harding family, and the familiar names Pomroy, Sherman and Stevens come after them, which suggests that the Londors family are occupying the same house as they did in 1841.
On the other side of them is a property now known as Carswell Cottage (clearly visible in the 1882 map), occupied by landed proprietor Benjamin Hatton, presumably the same person to be found at St. Swithins Farm ten years earlier. I suspect this property is identical with the ‘White Hall’ occupied by the Hatton sisters in 1841.
In 1861 John and Mary Ann Londors and family are said to be at Hattons Corner. Since the Hardings and Pomroys are still on one side of them, and on the other side Benjamin Hatton is at ‘Hattons Carswell’, we can again assume this is the same address as before but under a different name. Further along Hattons Corner is my great-great-grandfather John Londors junior and his young family. Beyond them, at St. Swithins Farm, is farmer James Black, who has taken over stewardship (ownership?) from Benjamin Hatton.
By 1871 the name of the road, and the area, seem to have changed yet again. What was Hattons Corner is now St Swithins Road, where John and Mary Londors live next to Benjamin B. Hatton and family, and beyond them are the Pomroys, the Aldertons, and the family of John Londors junior. To the other side of the Hattons are the households of two other Londors children: Elizabeth, married to George Smith, and William, married to Caroline. And beyond them is Fern Hall. Incidentally, I would suggest that St. Swithins Road, like Hattons Corner before it, is identical to today’s Roding Lane South.
In the 1881 census we find that place names have changed again and the name ‘Beehive’ has resurfaced. John Londors senior had died in 1876 and now his widow Mary and son James are said to be living at ‘Hattons Corner Beehive’, next door to Llewellyn Hatton (son of Benjamin, who died in 1875) at ‘Hatton House Beehive’, which I assume is identical with Carswell.
Once again, William and Caroline Londors and George and Elizabeth Smith can be found between the Hattons and Fern Hall. Some distance beyond Red Bridge Cottages, the Old Red House pub, and Stone Hall Farm, John Londors junior and his family are said to be living at a cottage in the yard of Shattmans Farm on Red House Road. Shattmans or Shackmans can be seen clearly on the two older maps above.
Mary Londors died in 1887. In 1891 her son James is still at Hattons Cottages, next door to Carswell House, still the home of Llewellyn Hatton, and further long are once again James’ siblings William and Elizabeth and their respective families. The eldest Londors brother, John, appears to have moved back closer to home, and is living two doors away in the other direction at St. Swithins Cottages, close to St. Swithins Farm. Another Londors sibling, Alice, and her husband, whitesmith Thomas Beale, can be found living in one of the farm houses here.
To conclude: the original Londors family home appears to have been approximately where today’s Roding Lane South meets Woodbridge Road. My 3 x great grandfather and his family seemed to have lived in a cottage next to the home of, and perhaps owned by, the landed Hatton family. I want to explore the possible relationship between the Hatton and Londors family in another post, but I’ll end this post with a photograph from Google Maps Streetview of Roding Lane South today. Could this perhaps be the site where my ancestors’ cottage once stood?