Search

History: Discover Havering’s poetic past

07:00 13 January 2014

Francis Quarles was a Romford boy

Francis Quarles was a Romford boy

Archant

You might not associate Romford with poetry or Upminster with verse, but Havering has played its part in English literature.

First World War poet Edward Thomas wrote of Havering while in at Gidea Park training campFirst World War poet Edward Thomas wrote of Havering while in at Gidea Park training camp

Francis Quarles was a Romford boy. His father profited from supplying Queen Elizabeth’s navy and bought Stewards, a South Street mansion that used to stand between Western Road and the market.

Francis was born there in 1592. The Stewards estate stretched all the way to the Drill, but Francis was the second son, and his older brother inherited.

Father of 18 children, Francis Quarles wrote to earn money. But he was not poor – the only picture of him shows he had a double chin.

Just across Hornchurch Lane, as South Street was then called, the River Rom trickled through the fields where the Brewery shopping centre now stands.

Prof Ged MartinProf Ged Martin

Young Francis probably played here. In a later poem, he pictured two lovers yearning to be together:

Like two little bank-dividing brooks,

That wash the pebbles with their wanton streams,

And having ranged and searched a thousand nooks,

Meet both at length in silver-breasted Thames.

If he thought of the Rom and the Ingrebourne as husband and wife, he was an unusual child.

Havering College’s Harold Hill campus is named after Quarles.

A forgotten 18th-century poet, Charles Churchill was a half-hearted clergyman. In 1756, he became curate at Rainham, where local people could not understand his abstruse sermons.

He confessed in verse that he kept “sacred dullness ever in my view”, so that “sleep at my bidding crept from pew to pew.”

Lord Byron was the great hellraiser of 19th-century English culture – “mad, bad and dangerous to know”.

Major Frederick Howard, an aristocratic army officer who lived at High House in Upminster, was a friend. Byron is said to have visited him.

Major Howard was killed at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Byron saluted his heroism. His friend, he said:

... was of the bravest, and when showered

The death-bolts deadliest the thinned files along,

Even where the thickest of war’s tempest lowered

They reached no nobler breast than thine, young 
gallant Howard!

I respect great poets, but frankly I could do better myself.

Rhyming “lowered” with “Howard” is poor stuff, but maybe “Frederick Howard, you weren’t a coward” would lack literary grandeur.

High House was replaced in the 1930s by Corbets Tey Road shops, which bear the name of Byron Parade.

After training at a 
Gidea Park army camp, First World War poet Edward Thomas scattered Havering placenames, such as Gooshays and Wingletye, through his verse.

Lilliputs, a farmhouse in Hornchurch’s Wingletye Lane, now a care home, inspired him to create a picture of Havering before the suburbs arrived:

Their copses, ponds, roads, and ruts,

Fields where plough-horses steam and plovers

Fling and whimper, hedges that lovers

Love, and orchards, 
shrubberies, walls

Where the sun untroubled by north wind falls.

Havering has some poetic street names. There’s Quarles Close in Collier Row. A literary cluster north of Gallows Corner commemorates Byron, Chaucer, Coleridge, Eliot, Masefield, Ruskin, Tennyson – even forgetable Shenstone.

In Hornchurch, Milton, Shelley and Tennyson form another poetic enclave off Upper Rainham Road.

If it’s verse that you want to be savouring, you could do worse than the borough of Havering.

0 comments

Latest Romford News Stories

31 minutes ago
Queen's Hospital's A&E department

A pioneering emergency care trial directed between 50 and 60 patients a day away from A&E in a bid to focus resources on those in need of urgent care.

Yesterday, 17:53
Jim Reynolds pictured with Stalkers Lily

It is understood that Romford dog track has terminated the contract of one of its top greyhound trainers yesterday.

Yesterday, 14:55
People enjoying a Community Fun Day at the Rush Green Community Association. Honey O'Brian 5, Scott 5 and Skye Martin 6

There was an afternoon of entertainment for everyone at the annual fun day in Rush Green last Saturday.

Yesterday, 11:42
Generic shots of a Big Mac burger from a McDonalds restaurant. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday  November5, 2007.  Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

From a man calling to say that his “very very large friend” was stuck up a tree, to a man calling to request a Big Mac, the London Fire Brigade has revealed its top ten weirdest calls.

Yesterday, 10:29
Protesters outside the headquarters of the Business Department in London, as postal workers delivered a warning to the government that the Post Office was

Thousands of post office workers are to be balloted on strike action over job losses, post office closures and pension scheme changes, the union has announced.

Yesterday, 07:00
Keith Gordon

A 60-year-old man who has covered his body in tattoos as “revenge against the OCD”, will appear in a documentary next month about his transformation.

Mon, 16:48
Robert Morris aged 22  from Hornchurch

Do you know the whereabouts of these five people? They are all sought by police on suspicion of a number of alleged crimes, ranging from assault to robbery.

Mon, 15:18
Pupils from St Edwards Church of England and Sixth Form College School with certificates gained from an arts awards evening.

An awards evening for progress and effort in art, drama and music was held at a school last week.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now