If you find yourself visiting the UK, I would recommend venturing outside of the usual tourist spots - like London or Cambridge - and visit the town of Romford, found in East London. Romford has been a market town since the mid 1200s, and has an interesting hold on markets of a certain size - exclusively given to the town by King Henry III. Although the market town started centuries ago, it still thrives today, as Romford is known to have one of the largest street markets in South Eastern England. Romford is also known to be one of the largest retail, entertainment, and leisure districts outside of central London - so it’s definitely worth checking out. If you’re unsure what to do once you get to Romford, keep reading to see some of the top attractions and must-sees on your trip!
1. Raphael Park
Raphael Park is a beautiful public park in Romford, UK. Before we go any further, I think it’s important to clear up that it is actually pronounced “Ray-fel” as opposed to “Ra-fay-el” (don’t worry I thought it was the latter too). Raphael Park was named after Sir Herbert Raphael, who gifted the land to Romford Urban District in 1904.
Everyone enjoys their time at Raphael Park as there is always something for everyone to do. You can go fishing in the large lake (maybe you’ll catch something for lunch) or just lounge on the grassy fields. Additionally, local groups are working to create more active and educational programs for children and adults alike. There are park walks, bird watching sessions, community litter pick-ups, concerts, live theater, movies and more. Raphael Park is the perfect venue to spend the day in nature with your family.
Address: 43 Main Road, Romford, United Kingdom
Website: Raphael Park
2. Brookside Theatre
Brookside Theater is the first and only professional arts venue in Romford, UK and is home to a variety of shows including: musicals, plays, live music, stand-up comedy, celebrity guests and more. You can find it among the Romford War Memorial buildings, appropriately located as its primary goal is to use its revenue to maintain these historic structures. The theater is run on an entirely volunteer basis, and clearly expresses the enthusiasm and passion of its volunteers. This is definitely a spot you don’t want to skip, so be sure to grab a seat and enjoy the performance - and if you’re feeling brave enough, get on stage yourself!
Address: 21a Eastern Road, Romford, Essex RM1 3NH
Website: Brookside Theatre
3. Upminster Windmill
If you’re like me, you have a strange fascination with windmills. But not just any windmill, but the rustic ones that you only see in movies or miniature golf courses. Upminster Windmill does not fail to deliver. Although not accompanied by neon golf balls, believe it or not (but actually it’s true) Upminster Windmill is a real mill. It was recently restored (just re-opened in summer 2017) and is worth as stop on your tour of Romford.
Address: The Mill Field, Saint Marys Lane, Upminster RM14 2QL
Website: Upminster Windmill
4. Havering Museum
You can find the Havering Museum on the site of the old Romford Brewery. The museum celebrates the town by recognizing the achievements of locals. It first opened in 2010 but has become a staple of the community. The displays are unique and appealing to everyone, and you can even find special events from time to time.
Address: High St, Romford RM1 1JL
Hours: 11 am - 5 pm
Website: Havering Museum
5. Valence House
Valence House is known to be one of the best local history museums in Greater London. It is the only surviving manor house in the area and dates back to Medieval times - it’s even surrounded by a moat! After renovations in 2010, the house features galleries and gardens that detail its history; visitors can also research local and family history in their archives. The house is open year-round and has events for all ages.
Address: Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, RM8 3HT
Admission: Free, except certain ticketed events
Hours: 10 am - 4 pm, Tuesday - Saturday
Website: Valence House
6. Eastbury Manor House
Eastbury Manor House was built in 1573 by Clement Sysley, under Elizabeth I’s rule. The house was originally constructed to overlook the Thames and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. The gentry house hosts various events from Armed Forces Celebrations to weddings; there is even a restaurant for visitors to dine in.
Eastbury Manor House
Address: Eastbury Square, Barking, Essex, IG11 9SN
Hours: Varies by day, but typically 10 am - 4 pm
Website: Eastbury Manor House
7. London Wall
London Wall was the defensive wall originally built by the Romans around what is now London, England. The wall seems to have been built in the late 2nd-century to prevent invasion and capture of the port city. Now the wall represents a longstanding moment in history, and draws many people in for the grandeur of the structure and meaning behind it.
Website: London Wall
8. Bedfords Park
Bedfords Park is a historic nature reserve that provides its visitors with views over London and Kent. It expands over 215 acres (87 hectares) and serves as a habitat for much wildlife, ranging from wildflowers and insects to woodpeckers and toads. The deer park on the west side of the park is home to a herd of Red Deer, and if you’re lucky you’ll see not only these deer but also some others that pass through the park. The park also has a cafe and hosts events for children, and is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day in nature.
Address: Broxhill Road, Havering-atte-Bower Essex, RM4 1QH
Hours: 9 am - 5 pm
Website: Bedfords Park
9. Romford Market
Saving the best for last…if you make the trip to Romford you MUST go to the Romford Market - open every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday (rain or shine). It features over 150 stalls for you to peruse and carries everything from groceries to high fashion clothing to electronics. If you get tired wandering around the shops you can stop at one of the many food stalls for some food (I’d recommend a scone and cup of tea to really immerse yourself in the English ways, plus the scones are supposed to be amazing). It’s one of the oldest street markets in the world, given its charter by King Henry III, so you absolutely must go. It would be a bloody shame if you didn’t!
Address: 96-98 Market Place, Romford, RM1 3ER
Hours: 9 am - 4:30 pm, every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday
Website: Romford Market
It's time to get out of London...
And go east. The city of Romford has so much to offer and now is your chance to go see it! So get out of London, and visit the historic market city - I promise you won’t regret it.
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