WEST HAM, a municipal, county, and parliamentary borough of Essex, England, forming an eastward suburb of London. Pop. (1891) 204,903, (1901) 267,358. The parish stretches north and south from Wanstead and Leyton to the Thames, and east and west from East Ham to the river Lea. It is divided into four wards Church Street, Stratford-Langthorne, Plaistow and Upton. The church of All Saints has a good Perpendicular tower, but the remainder is extensively restored. There are a number of old monuments. In the restoration of 1866 some early mural painting was discovered, and a transition Norman clerestory was discovered* remaining above the later nave. There are several modern churches, and a Franciscan monastery and school (St Bonaventure's). West Ham Park (80 acres) occupies the site of Ham House and park, for many years the residence of Samuel Gurney, the banker and philanthropist. The place was purchased for 25,000, and vested in the corporation of London for the use of the public. Of this amount the Gurney family contributed 10,000 and the corporation the same sum, the remaining 5000 being collected from the inhabitants of West Ham. The house was taken down, and the park was opened in 1874. Mrs Elizabeth Fry lived in a house in Upton Lane, on the confines of her brother's park. In 1762 the number of houses in West Ham parish was stated to be 700, of which " 4S5 are mansions and 245 cottages." Now few large houses remain, but the smaller houses have greatly increased. There are numerous chemical and other manufactures which have been removed from London itself; and the large population can also be traced in part to the foundation of the Victoria and Albert docks at Plaistow. Included within the borough are the extensive railway works of the Great Eastern railway at Stratford. This industrial centre is continued eastward in the urban district of East Ham (pop. 96,018), where the old village church of St Mary Magdalene retains Norman portions. West Ham is governed by a mayor, 12 aldermen and 36 councillors. Area 4683 acres.
At the time of the Conquest West Ham belonged to Alestan and Leured, two freemen, and at Domesday to Ralph Gernon and Ralph Peverel. West Ham village was included in the part which descended to the Gernons, who took the name of Montfichet. The manor of West Ham was settled upon Stratford-Langthorne Abbey, founded by William de Montfichet in 1135 for monks of the Cistercian order. The abbey stood in the marshes, on a branch of the Lea known as the Abbey Creek, about | m. south of Stratford Broadway. West Ham received the grant of a market and annual fair in 1253. The lordship was given to the abbey of Stratford, and, passing to the crown at the dissolution, formed part of the dowry of Catherine of Portugal, and was therefore called the Queen's Manor. In 1885 the urban sanitary district was erected into a parliamentary borough, returning two members for the northern and southern divisions respectively. It was incorporated in 1886.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)