Royal Celebrations @ The Havering Museum

I think it’s fair to say that the Havering Museum is London’s newest – it opened in the building that used to house the Romford Brewery sports and social club in May 2010.

Located just down the street from Romford’s historic marketplace on the High St, the museum contains four main galleries that look at the area’s local history. Given the history of its location, you won’t be surprised to learn that there’s a major focus on the brewing industry – Robert De Courtney was given permission to open the area’s first brewery, the Fan, in 1200 and several others followed, with the major breweries at Hornchurch and Romford opening in the late 1700s. The Hornchurch brewery survived until 1925, and the Romford Brewery (which employed 1000 local people at its height in the 1970s) struggled on until 1992. There’s lots of brewing and pub memorabilia on display, including some salvaged pub signs and information on the cooper’s trade. You’ll note the beer barrel motif in the preserved brewery gates just next door to the museum, leading to the new ‘Brewery’ shopping centre…

This being a Jubilee year, the museum’s temporary gallery space features displays on the area’s two royal palaces, long since demolished. They were the Havering Palace (in the village of Havering-atte-Bower which gives the London Borough its name) and Pyrgo palace, located nearby. The Havering Palace was gifted to Queen Eleanor by Henry III in 1262, and for centuries afterwards it was a palace favoured by the Queens of England, many of whom resided there permanently when they were widowed. The other, the Pyrgo Palace, is less well-documented although it is known that Henry VIII bought the house from Sir Brian Tuke in 1544, and that Queen Elizabeth I gave teh house and its park to Sir John Grey in 1559.

Accompany this historical information there are some entertaining displays on more recent coronations and Jubilee celebrations, particularly the Silver Jubilee of 1977. There are mugs, plates, tea towels and lots of other royal memorabilia, and it seems that Hornchurch excels at street parties – one attracted over 300 guests in 1977. No doubt they’ll do the same again this year.

If you have an interest in this particular part of London’s urban fringe, do pay them a visit. Given that they’re a private museum there is a small charge to enter – the fantastic photograph of Ian Dury in full flight wearing the jacket of a pearly king is worth the admission price on its own…

Unfortunately there are no photographs that I can share with you of the museum’s interior, once again due to copyright concerns! I can show you some images of the surrounding area though – note the absolutely huge Union Jack at the end of the market square that’s been erected to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – they don’t do patriotic things by halves in Romford!

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About The Londoneer

Pete Stean is a keen blogger, amateur photographer, singer and ham radio enthusiast in his spare time...