A Virtual Beating the Bounds on Leyton Marshes!

We are going to share a series historical insights into the former Lammas Lands of Leyton Marshes for those who were unable to take part in the geocaching version of Beating the Bounds that took place on Sunday 9th May 2021.

A huge thanks to everyone whose input or inspiration made this event a success, particularly Alan Russell for his knowledge and inspiration.

We are going to start at the beginning of the route, marked 👑 on the map.

Beating the Bounds map

Here was the clue:

I have a name which sounds like whales.
I’m better-known for wines and ales.
My name is not on old maps, since
In former times I was a prince

This is, of course…

👑 The Princess of Wales

Beating the Bounds being opened by the Belles of London City, here in 2017

Lea Bridge takes its name from a bridge built over the River Lea in 1745, and the Lea Bridge Road which leads through the area and across the bridge. The bridge also gives its name to a ward in Waltham Forest (Lea Bridge) on the eastern, Leyton, bank of the river, and to a ward in Hackney on the Western side of the river, also called Lea Bridge ward.

Lea Bridge looking north to the current Princess of Wales pub, 1821

The boundary between the two boroughs runs down the middle of what is now the Lee Navigation – we wouldn’t suggest swimming to mark this particular boundary – this is now one of the most polluted rivers in the country!

Oil spill on the Lee Navigation 2018

In 1861 the Princess of Wales in Lea Bridge was listed as The Prince of Wales and it wasn’t renamed until 1995.

Gathering at the Princess of Wales with Katie Andrews for Beating the Bounds

The first recorded occupants of the pub were from 1843, a William Window, upholsterer, of Church Street, Hackney; who married Anne Barton Southam, of Lea Bridge, Hackney. Her father was John Southam, a ‘Licensed Victualler’. Caleb Day and his family were the inhabitants until 1901, when the last ‘Licensed Victualler’ from the family was Amelia C Day.

The Old School House

Behind this building on Lea Bridge Road is a Grade II listed Victorian Old School Room or the ‘Old School Nook’, built in 1862, for the education of the children of those who lived by a now built over dock – the former schoolhouse was saved from demolition and is now restored and occupied by a Buddhist Order. In the map below, it is labelled ‘Mission Room’.

This formerly industrial area, home to a Glass Bottle Works and a Carbonic Acid Works, was historically affected by serious flooding events, which is accounted in detail by Stephen Ayers, here.

Flooding as viewed from site of Princess of Wales, 1947

“The Lee Valley flood relief channel was constructed between 1950 and 1976, using innovative construction techniques to cope with the level of flooding that occurred in 1947, which was calculated to probably occur once every 70 years.” However, in the era of climate change, it may be called upon more in the future than it has been in the past.

Engineers House (c) Heather Gardiner

From the pub, you can look across to the Engineers House, built in 1892, once part of the East London Waterworks and intended to be the feature building of the future East London Waterworks Park.

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