The Eastbrook connection

As I mentioned in the last post, the Eastbrook family are belived to have taken their name from the East Brook (now Wantz stream). Digging in the archives at lunch tuned up a copy of the will of one Thomas Esbroke, head of the household, a farmer and churchwarden in Dagenham in the 1550s of which little else is known.

This is his will written in 1556.

In the name of gode Amen. The xvijten Daye of november in the yeare of or Lord gode mvclvjty. I Thomas Esbroke at ye Well of Dagnhm beyng sycke in my body but thankes be to god of a good and purfitt memorye do ordeyn and make thys my prsent testmant and last will as foloweth : ffyrst I bequeth my soule to god ye father Almightie and my body to be burried in the churcheard of Dagnhm. Itm I geue to Jone my wyfe all my fre landes wth th’appurtenances until my heire cum unto the age of xxj yeres-Itm I geue to the sayd Jone my wyfe all my goodes and cattells, she to se me honestly brought on yearthe and to paye all my detts, the wch Jone my sole Executris to se thys my last will performed, as she shall answer. Itm I ordeyn and make Robert genys my ouerseer of they my last will, and he to have for his paynes xijd. Item I geue to Jone gosbye a Shepe. Itm to Thomas Devenysshe vjd. These witnesses : John logson, Willm Downynge and Willyam newman.

(as published under Dagenham Characters in the October 1953 Dagenham Digest. I shall attempt to track down the original copy of this will)

The Wantz stream

To the East part of Dagenham is an area known as Eastbrook. The name coming from the Eastbrook family, who in turn probably took their name from the local stream, then called the east brook. The family were in Dagenham from the 1280s until the 17th century, however the name lives on.

The stream on the other hand, has had several name changes. The longest lived of its many names seems to have been a corruption on the the medieval ‘Wythenbroke’, Wise (or Wisdom) Water. This lasted until the name became East Brook and this in turn lasted until sometime in the 17th -18th century when the name changed to the Wantz stream. Wantz coming from the crossroads near the stream source, The Four Wantz corner, Wantz being a corruption of Wents, an old common name for four way junctions in Essex and Kent.

By the early 1950s the source of the stream and the major part running though the Four Wantz & Eastbrook areas was little more than a polluted stinking trickle, so it was culverted and now lives inside a large drain not surfacing until it reaches the junction of Church Lane and Ballards Road.

The surface portion of the stream is now reasonably clean (obligatory mud burrowing shopping trollies aside) and home to the usual small freshwater plants and creatures including the crested newt. The stream runs above surface for about 1km before joining with the Beam river to the east of Lower Mardyke avenue.

The Beam river then continues to Dagenham Breach and the Thames ending the run of one of East London’s shortest streams and Dagenham’s only (partially) lost waterway.
(photos to follow when the camera behaves itself)

Water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

With all the talk of water shortages, hosepipe bans and drought orders, you’d be forgiven for overlooking all the water we do have. There is lots of water in East London, you just have to know where to look. Oh, and I really wouldn’t advise trying to drink any of it.

There are many streams and rivers running though London, Diamond Geezer has already posted on one of the lost rivers, the fleet. In a new series of irregular posts I’m going to write more about the streams and rivers in my area, starting with one partially lost stream. The Wantz stream.