HISTORY OF STRATFORD

How did Stratford get its name? What was Stratford famous for before the Olympic Park? What did Stratford look like before its modern-day regeneration? What about Stratford/London points of interest? Look no further - here’s a history of Stratford!

 

Long before the Stratford regeneration…

Why is the area called ‘Stratford’?


Stratford lay next to a ford on the Roman road from Colchester to London. In the Domesday Book, an extensive land survey from 1086, the area we know as Stratford is named ‘Straet Forda’. The small river (ford) was a little North of where the High Street is today. 

A shallow stream flowing over small green rocks.

‘Straet Forda’ literally means ‘ford on the Roman road’, and if you google ‘Straet Forda’ today, you’ll still get search results for Stratford, East London. “Did you mean: Stratford?” Yes, we did!

A Google Search result displaying 'Straet Forda'. Google's response is 'Did you mean: Stratford'

 

Stratford, London’s points of interest from the past 

We know the area now for the 2012 Olympic Stadium and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, but what is the less-than-recent history of Stratford?

Stratford Langthorne Abbey (sometimes referred to as West Ham Abbey) plays a huge part in the history of Stratford. It was founded in 1135 and was one of the largest abbeys in England for its time. At the same time, Stratford was a booming community for potato farmers, brewers, and weavers. The area pretty much kept to itself. That is, until a small port was developed to service the abbey and the surrounding mills, and the area then became known for trade due to improved access to the area.

An old-style wall, made up of different size and colours of bricks and stones.

The arrival of transport links to Stratford ushered in the industrial revolution, slowly changing the area from agriculture to one of industry. By the time Strathford Langthorne Abbey was dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1538, Stratford’s regeneration made it yet again a prime location: engineers, dye makers, printers, and coal industries all found success in Stratford.

Although the abbey no longer stands, it has continued to honour the importance of transport links in the area; the North London Line now runs across the former site, connecting Stratford to, well, everywhere!

 

Stratford’s Regeneration

Stratford, London’s points of interest 


With the creation of the borough of Newham in 1965, Stratford became the centre of local government for the area. Development continued during the 20th century, and now here we are in the 21st century – a buzzing cultural quarter that is still growing! 

The history of Stratford has very much led to its continued evolving development. From Theatre Royal Stratford East and Stratford East Picturehouse, to the successful bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games, it’s clear that Stratford is a thriving metropolitan area.

The inside of a theatre, with hundreds of red velvet seats, and glamorous gold fixtures and lighting. A single person sits in the corner, wearing a black top.

Stratford’s regeneration is never-ending – this is a place where impressive new residential developments mix with excellent sporting facilities. The transformation of the lower Lea Valley and the birth of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park have contributed to placing Stratford firmly on the modern map. With such a strong foundation for growth and prosperity, we don’t see things changing any time soon, do you?

The Olympic Rings displayed in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park