This website has focused almost exclusively on Forest Gate north of Romford Road and neglected the fascinating history of the part of E7 located south of that main road - SoRo, as the hipsters would have it - Upton.
This post is an introductory taster to Upton life. Future, occasionally
published, blogs will cover, in detail , many of the fascinating people and places that have shaped its past and present. We are indebted to a great local history website, Hidden London (here), for prompting this article.
Upton was first recorded in 1203 as Hupinton, then in 1290 as Hopton and in 1485 as Upton. The name derives from the Old English words Upp and tun, meaning higher farmstead. There is a slight rise in the otherwise low-lying area, which was once marshy terrain.
|Chapman and Andre's map, 1777 - |
showing Upton as a significant settlement
One of the houses in existence at the time was an already ancient timber-framed structure, said to have begun life as Henry VIII's Forest Gate hunting lodge, what is now the dilapidated Old Spotted Dog public house (see here for a full history of the building).
The Dog is the oldest non-ecclesiastical building in Newham. It is on English Heritage's "at risk" register, and is now in the hands of new owners (see above link for details). The grounds surrounding the pub house one of England's most famous non-league football clubs - Clapton FC (see here and here for details).
|1908 postcard of The Old Spotted Dog,|
in better days for the pub
|Amateur cup winning photo of Clapton FC,|
1909. Walter Tull, second from right, front row
|Dr John Fothergill - 1712 - 1780|
Dr Fothergill was one of as number of Quakers to settle into Upton in and around this time; many of whom were linked by marriage with the Pelly family - West Ham's then principal landowners.
|Prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry, who|
lived in The Cedars, in the
grounds of Ham House
|Upton House - birthplace of Joseph Lister |
- later site of St Peter's vicarage, now site
of Joseph Lister Court, Upton Lane
|Joseph Lister - 1827 - 1912|
The Quaker banker and philanthropist, Samuel Gurney, bought Ham House in 1812. He stayed there for the rest of his life - and members of his family stayed there until its demolition.
Samuel Gurney's older sister, the prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry, lived in a house on the edge of the estate from 1829 to 1844. In 1842 she entertained Frederick William IV of Prussia there (after whom the Edward VII pub in Stratford was originally named).
|Samuel Gurney - prominent banker,|
philanthropist and Upton dweller
|All that remains of Ham House, a cairn|
consisting of debris from it, located on the
site of the house, in West Ham Park
|West Ham Park, 1904|
Having once been a country retreat for prosperous eighteenth century Quakers, late nineteenth century Upton became a significant focus for East London's rapidly growing Irish Catholic community. The area's surviving Roman Catholic institutions include: St Angela's (see here), St Bonaventure's and St Antony's schools and the church of St Antony of Padua.
|1953 ariel view of St Angela's school|
|St Antony's church|
|The Red House, Upton Lane - now social club|
The church, itself, was later demolished and the vicarage (Upton House) was pulled down in 1967-8 to be replaced by the bland Joseph Lister Court development of flats.
Megg's Almshouses were built at the same time as St Peter's church, in 1893, facing West Ham Park, and remain today as sheltered accommodation for elderly people (see here, for details).
Upton Lane board school opened in 1894, at the corner of Doris Road, but was destroyed by bombing during World War 11. In 1959 the site was used for the Stratford grammar school, which subsequently became the Stratford School Academy, which itself has recently been rebuilt.
|Upton Road school, bombed 13 August 1944|