Noak Hill, Havering
A real village on a real hill, Noak Hill is perched amidst rolling farmland in the far north-east corner of Greater London
Noak Hill’s name was first recorded in 1490. ‘Noak’ signified ‘(the place at) the oak tree’. According to David Mills in his Dictionary of London Place Names, “This was no doubt the home of Richard ate Noke, that is ‘(living) at the oak tree’, recorded in a local document c.1290.”
When the common land here was enclosed in 1814 an area of Roman tiles ‘300 paces long’ was discovered.
After enclosure, the land was bought up by the Neave family, who also acquired most of what is now Harold Hill. Richard Neave was an 18th-century merchant who made his fortune from trade with the West Indies.
The late 17th-century Bear Inn, on the edge of Harold Hill, was originally called the Goat House. The pub was acquired by Sir Thomas Neave in 1820.
Although within audible distance of the M25, Noak Hill retains weatherboarded and thatched cottages and the attractive red brick church of St Thomas, built by the Neaves in 1842.
Until the 1920s Noak Hill was a village of agricultural labourers and Neave family servants but most residents now commute to work elsewhere.
During the 1960s the Bear boasted a menagerie (complete with bear) that was claimed to be the largest in the London area outside Regent’s Park.
Having served for a while as a restaurant, the old schoolhouse briefly reverted to educational use in the early 21st century before once again closing.
To the south-east is Dagnam Park, formerly the grounds of Dagnams, the Neaves’ mansion, which was demolished around 1952.
Postcode areas: Romford RM3 and RM4