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

12:00
Voters will take to the polls to choose the next London mayor and their GLA representatives on May 5

As the countdown begins to Thursday’s elections, we profile Havering and Redbridge’s five local GLA candidates vying to win. Here is what you need to know about your local candidates.

07:00
One of the crashed cars found near Ferry Lane, Rainham

People will be killed if street racers keep performing illegal late night stunts in front of hundreds of onlookers at an industrial estate, police have warned.

Yesterday, 16:00
The Mayor of Havering, Cllr Brian Eagling with pupils at Nelmes Primary School, Wingletye Lane, Hornchurch

The pupils have embarked on a voyage of discovery after planting seeds that have been in space with astronaut Tim Peake.

Yesterday, 13:27
Josh Herdman made a successful debut in his fight on Saturday. Picture: Dan Donovan. For more visit http://www.dandonovanphoto.com/

A Harry Potter star has swapped the cloak and wand for fighting gloves as he stepped into the cage for his Mixed Martial Arts debut.

Yesterday, 10:58
Residents at Orchard Village have signed a petition to bring back Old Ford Housing under Havering Council control

A housing association has been given a deadline of three months to conduct a host of repairs following serious complaints from residents for over a year.

Yesterday, 07:00
Asset and energy support services group, Lakehouse, King George Close, Romford, was named Havering Business of the Year.

Business owners are being encouraged to step forward and take pride in their achievements by entering the Havering Business Awards 2016.

Wed, 18:00
Mike Palfreman, chief executive of Haven House Children's Hospice, with the Mayor of Havering Cllr Brian Eagling. Photo: Mark Sepple/Haven House

The chief executive of a children’s charity has received a prestigious award from the Mayor of Havering for his long-standing services to the community.

Wed, 17:12
The Bitter End in High Street

Concerns have been raised about a disused pub becoming an eye-sore in the heart of town.

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

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Yummy traditional afternoon teas for two

MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Traditional Afternoon Teas for two at a location of your choice! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe