Author reveals secret history of Hornchurch in latest book
PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:15 07 February 2020
From allegations of witchcraft to crafty MPs involved in financial scandals a Hornchurch writer has revealed all of the town's secret history in her latest book.
Carol Cannavan has lived in Hornchurch for 43 years and she chose to explore the lesser-known episodes and characters in the history of the town for her book, Secret Hornchurch.
She told the Recorder: "It's been a real journey of discovery.
"First of all I thought I would read as many historical books as I could, but this books is about secret Hornchurch so you have to go a bit deeper which was a lot more difficult.
"Fortunately I enjoy doing research. I had quite a few visits to the Essex Record Office which is brilliant.
"It's just so wonderful to see these really old documents."
Carol also spent a lot of time at Romford Library.
"Simon Donaghue at the library was very helpful," said Carol.
"I also went to the Upminster Tithe Barn and the RAF Heritage Centre in Hornchurch."
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Hornchurch's medieval church of St Andrew's in the High Street was known as the horned church - hence the town's name.
In themed chapters, Secret Hornchurch delves into the history of the town from traces of prehistoric ancestors in the area to the founding of the priory by Henry II and the story of RAF Hornchurch, which played a key role in the two world wars.
The town's story includes alleged witchcraft, historic pubs and manor houses, notorious characters and the first fire engine, village lock-up and Tube station.
Carol was particularly fascinated by the MP John Ward who lived in the early 1700s in Hornchurch.
"He was described as 'the notorious John Ward of Hackney Wick' and he was a thoroughly nasty person," said Carol.
"He would loan money at extortionate rates and was involved in financial scandals.
"When he was in prison he would poison cats and dogs and slowly watch them die."
Carol was a trade press editor in the plumbing and heating industry for around 18 years and has published a non-fiction book called A Career in Plumbing.
Secret Hornchurch is available to buy from February 15.
Visit the publisher's website to buy the book.