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The history behind some of Redbridge’s most popular place names

PUBLISHED: 11:51 21 August 2019

This map shows the Redbridge area in 1777. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

This map shows the Redbridge area in 1777. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

Archant

This week, the Recorder takes a look at the history behind some of Redbridge’s most popular place names. Don’t worry if your area isn’t here, as more will follow next week.

To start off, the origins of the name Ilford come from the former name for the River Roding - the Hile, Yle or Hyle.

The first recording of the Hile dates back to 958AD, and the named Hileford - denoting a settlement at a crossing of the Hile - is written as far back as 1234.

The Ilefort mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 actually referred to a separate settlement nearby in what is now Little Ilford, but over time the areas merged as populations boomed.

Gants Hill is perhaps one of the more contentious place names in the area, and there are two schools of thought about how the name came about.

The name Gantesgrave appears in maps dating back to 1291 and is almost certainly linked to the local le Gant family.

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Ralph le Gant is recorded as the Steward of Barking Abbey in 1321, and Richard and Gilbert le Gant are named as stewards in 1456.

However, some scholars maintain that Gant's Hill is more closely linked to the former name of the area as Gnat's Cross - so named because the area used to be a marshland filled with insects.

Wealthy landowner Lord Parham had the area drained in 1803 and the village that sprung up became known as Gnat's Cross, although Cross was soon changed to Hill as people complained about religious discrimination.

At some point after 1803 this theory states that a misprint on local maps lead to the area being dubbed Gants Hill and the name stuck.

Barkingside is slightly easier to trace.

An early map produced in 1558 - the first year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I - denotes some cottages being built on the "Barking Side" of the Forest of Waltham, and the name stuck.

Goodmayes appears to be linked to the nameof John Godemay, who leased land in the area from the Abbess of Barking in 1319.

Whether he gave the land his name or he was so named after inheriting land already locally known as Goodmayes is unclear. In the 15th century the name is recorded as Goodmaistrete.


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