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St Helen and St Giles Churchyard Havering

Summary

St Helen and St Giles Church is the oldest surviving building in Havering in the village of Rainham, which has been occupied since the Stone Age. In Norman times there was a ferry at Rainham and Rainham Creek was a trading post from as early as c1200. The church was reputedly built c.1170 as penance for the murder of Thomas A Becket by Richard Luce. Now closed to burials, the churchyard has many mature trees and a number of good C18th monuments. In 1729 John Harle, a merchant and owner of Rainham Wharf, built Rainham Hall next to the churchyard.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
Rainham Parish Church

Site location:
The Broadway, Rainham

Postcode:
RM13 9YW ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Churchyard

Date(s):
c1170 and later

Designer(s):

Listed structures:
LBI: St Helen and St Giles Church

Borough:
Havering

Site ownership:
Church

Site management:
LB Havering Parks and Open Spaces

Open to public?
Yes

Opening times:
unrestricted

Special conditions:

Facilities:

Events:
Has opened for Open House

Public transport:
Tube: Elm Park, Dagenham East (District). Rail: Rainham. Bus: 103, 165, 287, 324.

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/09/2009
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.havering.gov.uk; www.rainhamparishchurch.org.uk

Further Information

Grid ref:
TQ520822

Size in hectares:

Green Flag:
No

On EH National Register :
No

EH grade:
None

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
No

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
Yes

In Conservation Area:
Yes

Conservation Area name:
Rainham

Tree Preservation Order:
No

Nature Conservation Area:
No

Green Belt:
No

Metropolitan Open Land:
No

Special Policy Area:
No

Other LA designation:
None

Fuller information

St Helen and St Giles Church is a remarkably complete and unaltered Norman church with C12th nave and aisles, chancel and west tower. Rainham was one of the parishes in the Chafford Hundred, a series of small parishes of isolated farms and hamlets. The oldest surviving building in Havering in the old village of Rainham, St Helen and St Giles is reputed to have been built c.1170 as penance for the murder of Thomas A Becket by Richard Luce. Later alterations to the church include a C15th crown-post 2-bayed roof and C18th clerestory windows. A medieval drawing of a ship at anchor on the wall of the rood-loft staircase is a reminder that the River Ingrebourne, which is now infilled, was once used for navigation. Rainham has been occupied since the Stone Age and is named in the Domesday Book as Raineham in 1086. In Norman times a ferry at Rainham started running, transporting monks from Lesnes Abbey in Erith, as a result of which the settlement developed. Rainham Creek was a trading post from as early as c1200 until the C19th and John Harle who built Rainham Hall (q.v.) next to the church in 1729 was a merchant and owner of Rainham Wharf. The growth of heavy industry led to the decline of Rainham Ferry. The now largely forgotten poet and satirist Charles Churchill was curate at St Helen and St Giles from 1756-58 before removing to St John's Westminster. Well-known in his day, Churchill was lauded by among others John Wilkes, the MP and founder of the radical newspaper 'The North Briton' which frequently attacked the government of the day, to which Church contributed before his death at the age of 34.

The churchyard is closed to burials; it has many mature trees and some good C18th monuments. Archaeologists think there may be remains of a Saxon church here. The parish is now joined with that of Wennington.

Sources consulted:

Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Arthur Mee 'The King's England, London North of the Thames excluding the City and Westminster', (Hodder and Stoughton 1972); Sue Curtis, Dagenham and Rainham Past, Phillimore, 2000; John Drury, 'Treasures of Havering', (Ian Henry Publications, 1998); Paul Drury Partnership for LB Havering, 'Rainham Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Proposals' c.2006

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