Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for BARKING, or Berking

BARKING, or Berking, a town, a subdistrict, and a parish, in the district of Romford, Essex. The town stands on a rich flat tract, on the river Roding and on the Southend railway, 2 miles N of the Thames, and 7 E of Bishopsgate, London. Its name is a corruption of Burging, signifying the "fortification in the meadow;" and seems to allude to an ancient entrenchment, enclosing upwards of 48 acres, and still traceable. The town rose to importance in 670, by the founding at it of an extensive abbey for Benedictine nuns; and it was the residence of William the Conqueror during the erection of the tower of London, and the place where the Earls of Mercia and Northumberland, and many other nobles, swore fealty to him on the restoration of their estates. The abbey was founded by Erkenwald, Bishop of London; destroyed, in 870, by the Danes; rebuilt by King Edgar; governed, after his death, by his queen, and at other times by a long series of royal or noble ladies; served, throughout all its duration, as a prime seminary of the gentry of England; and passed, at the dissolution, to Edward, Lord Clinton. Nothing now remains of it except a gateway at the entrance to the present church yard, a square embattled structure, with an octagonal turret at one corner; whose upper part is a room, formerly called the Chapel of the Holy Rood, having large windows in perpendicular English. The parish church stands near the site of the abbey church; and possesses two Norman pillars in the N aisle, some lancet lights in the chancel, a curious niche at the NW of the nave, and some brasses and sculptured mural monuments; but is chiefly a structure of late and poor style, very tastelessly restored. The market house or town hall is a timbered edifice of the time of Queen Elizabeth. The town has a station on the railway, a post office under London E, two hotels, three dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, an endowed school with £20 a year, alms-houses with £185, and other charities with £125. A weekly market is held on Saturday; and an annual fair on 22 Oct. The inhabitants are chiefly market-gardeners, graziers, fishermen, or seamen; and the last are employed largely in bringing coal and timber to London. The creek of the Roding bears the name of Barking creek has a convenient wharf and a magazine, and is a coastguard station. Pop. of the town in 1841, 3,751; in 1861, 5,076. Houses, 1,059.

The subdistrict includes also Ripple ward. Pop., 5,591. Houses, 1,162. The parish includes likewise Chadwell and Great Ilford wards. Acres, 12,741; of which 225 are water. Real property, £54,590. Pop., 10,996. Houses, 2,246. Most of the tract between the railway and the Thames is a fertile meadowy flat, called Barking level, disposed in grazing ground for black cattle, and protected from high tides in the Thames by an immense embankment. This work, as originally constructed, gave way in 1707, with the effect of about 5,000 acres being inundated; but it was repaired and strengthened at a cost of about £40,000. The contiguous reach of the Thames bears the name of Barking reach; is 1½ mile long; and has, in the middle, a dangerous shoal of 5 furlongs, called Barking shelf, on which the Gram pus of 54 guns was wrecked in 1799. The great outfall of the new drainage of London is at Barking creek. This work comprises three gigantic parallel sewers; is 5¼ miles long; crosses streams, roads, and railways, by means of bridges and tunnels; possesses more stupendous features than those of most railways; was undertaken at an estimate of £625,000, and employed, in 1861, ten steam engines and locomotives, and about 1,500 workmen. East bury House, about a mile ESE of the town, is an old brick building, said by some to have been the residence of Lord Monteagle, and alleged by tradition to have been the place where the Gunpowder plot was concocted. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of London. Value, £767.* Patron, All Souls' college, Oxford.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a subdistrict, and a parish"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Barking AP/CP       Essex AncC
Place names: BARKING     |     BARKING OR BERKING     |     BERKING
Place: Barking

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