Havering-atte-Bower, Havering

An extended village situated on high ground three miles north of Romford

In Haver­ing-atte-Bow­er the mid­dle word is pro­nounced ‘atty’ and Haver­ing is pro­nounced the same way as the verb, despite the fable you’re about to hear.

Some­time in the mid-eleventh cen­tu­ry Edward the Con­fes­sor had a coun­try retreat or ‘bow­er’ built here­abouts, which was lat­er aug­ment­ed to become a small palace (and that part of the sto­ry is true). On one occa­sion, while on a vis­it to his bow­er, Edward was approached by a beg­gar ask­ing for alms, to which he replied, “I have no mon­ey, but I have a ring,” which he hand­ed over, and that is how Haver­ing got its name. The same beg­gar lat­er met some pil­grims and passed the ring to them, say­ing, “Give this to your king, and tell him that with­in six months he shall die.” And this appar­ent­ly came to pass. The tale is so far-fetched that it scarce­ly bears repeat­ing, yet the ring in ques­tion retains a cen­tral posi­tion on the borough’s coat of arms to this day.

In fact, the name ‘Haver­ing’ prob­a­bly derives from a landown­er called Hæfer.

A suc­ces­sion of roy­al asso­ci­a­tions came to an end dur­ing the Com­mon­wealth when the palace fell into decay and was after­wards demol­ished. Bow­er House was built near­by in 1729, incor­po­rat­ing some of the palace’s old stones. A pri­vate home until 1976, Bow­er House was there­after used by the Ford Motor Com­pa­ny for man­age­ment train­ing and deal­er pre­sen­ta­tions until its acqui­si­tion by the Amana Trust, an Evan­gel­i­cal foun­da­tion. Both the house and its sta­ble block are grade I list­ed.

The Roy­al Lib­er­ty of Haver­ing extend­ed over most of the area of the present bor­ough from 1465 to 1892. The tow­er on the coat of arms rep­re­sents the old Palace of Haver­ing (though it’s topped with the horns of Hornchurch).

The vil­lage is by no means unspoilt but retains suf­fi­cient his­toric struc­tures to give it some char­ac­ter, includ­ing 18th-cen­tu­ry weath­er­board­ed cot­tages and the flint-faced church of St John the Evan­ge­list (rebuilt in 1876–8) and there are glo­ri­ous views over Essex mead­ow­land.

The grade II* list­ed Round House, on Brox­hill Road, is an ellip­ti­cal, three-storeyed, stuc­coed vil­la dat­ing from 1794. (Click here for a bird’s eye view.) It should not be con­fused with the taller, rounder water tow­er to its east, which is also a pleas­ing struc­ture and is shown in one of the images above. If you look care­ful­ly you can see them both in the satel­lite view below.

Oth­er sign­f­i­cant pri­vate homes include Blue Boar Hall (built some time around 1600 and refront­ed in the 19th cen­tu­ry), Rose Cot­tage (c.1740s) and Bow­er Farm Cot­tage (c.1840, shown above). They are all grade II list­ed.

Haver­ing’s post-war expan­sion was con­strained by green-belt des­ig­na­tion of most of the sur­round­ing farm­land. What lit­tle devel­op­ment has tak­en place has been prin­ci­pal­ly to the north, but some res­i­dents of the Hill­rise estate to the south-west con­sid­er their neigh­bour­hood to be con­nect­ed with Haver­ing-atte-Bow­er.

The vil­lage green has a dou­ble set of stocks and a whip­ping post (click for a pho­to). Although some sources (e.g. Wikipedia, uncit­ed) claim this is the orig­i­nal suite of pun­ish­ment fur­ni­ture, His­toric Eng­land says it was “renewed in fac­sim­i­le in 1966” – but nev­er­the­less awards it a grade II list­ing.

Postcode area: Romford, RM4
Further reading: Marjorie K McIntosh, A Community Transformed: The Manor and Liberty of Havering-atte-Bower 1500–1620, Cambridge University Press, 2002
and Winifred Brazier, A Childhood in Havering-atte-Bower, Ian Henry, 1981
The slideshow photographs by Andrew Bowden, John Salmon and Des Blenkinsopp are licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence. Some of the pictures have been slightly modified. You can view the originals by clicking the images.