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Cranham is a suburb in northeast Londonmarker, England and part of the London Borough of Haveringmarker. It is located east northeast of Charing Crossmarker and comprises an extensive residential area with two small areas of retail activity. It was historically a rural village in the county of Essex and formed an ancient parish, that was abolished for civil purposes in 1934. It is peripheral to London, forming the eastern edge of the built-up area. As part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century, Cranham significantly expanded and increased in population, becoming part of Hornchurch Urban Districtmarker in 1934 and has formed part of Greater Londonmarker since 1965.


Its name is first recorded in 1086 as Craohv or "Cravoho". The -oho suffix means a spur of land or a ridge in the landscape, sometimes appearing modernly as a "Hoo". In Old English, the Crau- element usually refers to birds (crows; it also appears at Crawley, Surrey), but it may also be a masculine Saxon personal name, which also appears in Suffolk.


Locally, Cranham is still sometimes referred to as a village despite forming the easternmost edge of London's suburbs. The original parish was bisected by the Southend Arterial Road and the M25 motorwaymarker sliced across its north. The modern political boundaries were adjusted to these roads (see below) and now differ from the traditional parish borders. About 3/4 of the original parish remains under cultivation (mostly arable on clay soils).

The ancient parish boundaries were sub-triangular, and elongated north-south with an extreme length of 3.5 miles (5.6 km). The southern boundary was about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) across, but the parish tapered to a northern boundary that was only 5/8 mile (1 km) long. Rectilinear field boundaries in the south of the parish suggest a middle Saxon (or earlier) occupation.

Cranham parish historically contained two Anglo-Saxon manors, named Crauoho (Cranham) and Wokydon Episcopi [anglicized to Bishop's Ockendon]. The latter name was frequently used in the Middle Ages for the whole parish, and appears even in late 19th century legal documents. Domesday (1086) makes it clear that these two manors were well-established before the Conquest, and that Bishop's Ockendon was worth about three times its small northern neighbour. And yet, the name of the smaller manor eventually was used for the whole parish, possibly to avoid confusion with North and South Ockendon which lie to the South-east. In the 11th - 15th centuries, the two manors were separated by substantial woodland, the clearance of which can be observed to be in its late stages on a map of the parish dated 1596. Bishop's Ockendon lies in the south and on the rectilinear landscape. This suggest commonality with the other two Ockendons and a more ancient origin than Crauoho, with the latter looking like small-scale woodland clearance, and late Saxon entrepreneurship.

Until the mid-20th century, Cranham was a small village. Its only industries have been the railways and a brick works in the late 19th and early 20th centuries located in its east-central part, with a railway spur; the area is now a large public open space called the "Brick Fields". The moderately sized, coppiced wood of oak and hornbeam adjoining this area to its east is called Frank's Wood, although this is also known locally as the "Bluebell Wood" because of its spectacular flowering in Spring. It is named for Warley Franks, a nearby manor house with a mediaeval fishpond complex, just over the ancient boundary in Great Warley parish, but now brought within Cranham (see below).

Perhaps the most famous resident of Cranham was General James Oglethorpe who founded the 13th and last American colony, which is now the State of Georgiamarker, USA. He is buried alongside his wife at the centre of the chancel of All Saints' parish church in Cranham.

There are few important buildings in the parish which was characterised by small copyhold farms scattered along the three principal roads (Folke's, Tabrum's, Guyler's, Brookman's, Dorkin's, etc.). All Saints' church was rebuilt in 1870 and stands next to Cranham Hall (the Bishop's Ockendon manor house) as part of a typical Essex church-manor house complex on a rise in the locally flat landscape. Given the features of St.Laurence's Upminster (which strongly suggest an Anglo-Saxon minster or mother church), the advowson being with the manor for many centuries, and its location, All Saints' can confidently claim its origins to be from an Anglo-Saxon private oratory.

The large house known as Beredens (or latterly Bellevue) is the best candidate for the site of Crauoho. This site is in the north of the parish, and, unlike the various farms, does not appear to have been a dependent copyhold of Bishop's Ockendon. There is no physical remains of this house: it was demolished in the 1940s after being severely damaged by the Luftwaffe.

Coombe Lodge, in the extreme northeast corner of the original parish is the only other large house. It belonged to Edward Ind, a brewery magnate and Essex legislator and Justice of the Peace. He is buried at All Saints'. Coombe Lodge is now a residential facility for the elderly, as is the large Edwardian house, at the junction of Pike Lane and St.Mary's Lane. The latter served as a billet for a Canadian Anti-Aircraft detachment during the Battle of Britain.

A good barn, with seed store, possibly of the 17th century, stands at Broadfields farm, another dependency of Bishop's Ockendon / Cranham Hall manor. The adjoining farmhouse now serves as the headquarters of the Thames Chase Conservancy.

The only other large buildings are the schools. Boyd Hall (now derelict) was a model Victorian two-room school with attached house. It dates from 1870. Its replacement was Oglethorpe School, by the county architects using a 1950s quasi-Bauhaus design. Engayne School is another primary school further north. Secondary education is provided at Hall Mead School, and the Coopers Company and Coborn School, which removed from Bow in the 1970s and stands just inside the western border of the parish, on St.Mary's Lane.

The growth of the post-Second World War dormitory suburb in the western half of the middle third of the parish occasioned a second parish church, St.Luke's, in 1958. This was rebuilt in 2004, and stands in Front Lane, about 3/4 mile north of All Saints' which ceded the northern half of the parish to it.

The public houses vary in age. Although rebuilt, The Thatched House dates at least from the 1830s. It was formerly a small building, designed to serve the nearby cluster of cottages and Brandy Hall, around the junction of Pike and St.Mary's Lanes. This hamlet is occasionally referred to as Pike Lane End in old documents. The Plough was originally an ale house of the same era as the Thatched House; it stood on the east side of Front Lane somewhat to the north of its modern replacement. The Golden Crane and the Jobbers Rest are more modern and appear to be the only pubs of their name in England. The former was probably suggested by the village name (if wrongly). The latter was originally housed in one end of a row of cottages that were formerly the parish workhouse; the present building dates from the 1920s, and a surviving photograph shows a charabanc outing departing from it.

From 1894 Cranham parish formed part of the Romford Rural Districtmarker of Essex. In 1934 the parish was enlarged by gaining North Ockendonmarker and Romford Rural District was abolished. The enlarged parish then formed part of Hornchurch Urban Districtmarker, with a small part to the north, near Great Warleymarker, transferred to Brentwood Urban Districtmarker. Cranham parish and Hornchurch Urban District were abolished in 1965 and their former area was transferred to Greater Londonmarker, to form part of the present-day London Borough of Havering.

In 1993 the Greater London boundary, to the east of Cranham and north of the railway line, was locally realigned to the M25 motorwaymarker, although North Ockendon (at the SE boundary of the parish) remains the only part of Greater London outside this orbital road because of its 1934 addition into Cranham.


The Upminster depot of the London Underground's District Line occupies the former site of Guyler's Farm. The mainline of the London, Tilbury and Southend railway, as well as its Upminster to Grays branch, cross the southern part of the parish. But the nearest Cranham ever came to having a railway station was when the site on the branch line, now occupied by Judith Anne Court, was acquired for that purpose; the idea was abandoned after the Second World War. However, Transport for London provide several London Bus routes, including London Buses route 248, which connect to the Underground and National Rail network at Upminster stationmarker. In the 1950s and 1960s, London Transport operated route 248 and equipped it with double-deckers that were specially designed to negotiate the low bridge at Wantz Corner, some of which survive, in their dotage, on the island of Hawai'i.

Nearest places

Nearest station


  1. Mills, D., Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names, (2000)
  2. Reaney PH, Placenames of Essex.
  3. Streetmap - Location shown relative to A127 and M25
  4. Vision of Britain - Cranham parish history
  5. OPSI - Essex and Greater London (County and London Borough Boundaries) (No.2) Order 1993
  6. Transport for London - Upminster and Cranham bus services

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