Noak Hill

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

a thatched cottage on Noak Hill Road

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 Deer’s Rest, on the edge of Harold Hill, was orig­i­nal­ly called the Goat House, became the Bear Inn around 1715 and gained its present name in 2019. Sir Thomas Neave acquired the inn in 1820. It has been much extend­ed and altered, which has pre­vent­ed it from qual­i­fy­ing for list­ed sta­tus, though it’s on Haver­ing’s asset reg­is­ter of build­ings of local her­itage inter­est. The orig­i­nal part of the build­ing can be iden­ti­fied by its arched win­dows.

The Neaves built the attrac­tive red brick church of St Thomas in 1842, which was fol­lowed by a school­house six years lat­er. The lat­ter has since been exten­sive­ly altered but retains many orig­i­nal fea­tures.

Hidden London: St Thomas’ church, Noak Hill
St Thomas’ church*

Until the 1920s Noak Hill was a vil­lage of agri­cul­tur­al labour­ers and Neave fam­i­ly ser­vants but most res­i­dents now com­mute to work else­where. Although with­in audi­ble dis­tance of the M25, Noak Hill retains weath­er­board­ed and thatched cot­tages, sev­er­al of which are grade II list­ed, includ­ing Rose Cot­tages, Hol­ly Tree Cot­tage, Old Keep­ers Cot­tage and Thatched Cot­tage, which is shown in the pic­ture at the top of this arti­cle.

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. Some­what sur­pris­ing­ly, it’s now a Rad­ha Krish­na tem­ple.

To the south-east is Dag­nam Park, known local­ly as the Manor and for­mer­ly the grounds of Dag­nams, the Neaves’ man­sion, which was demol­ished around 1952.

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.

Postcode areas: Romford RM3 and RM4


* The picture of St Thomas’ church on this page is slightly modified from an original photograph, copyright Sludge G, at Flickr, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.