This volume is the first of two containing the history of all the places in Waltham hundred and some of those in Becontree hundred. This region, most of which is now in Greater London, extends eastwards from the River Lea and northwards from the Thames. Until the mid-19th century it was rich farm land, and was also fashionable with the gentry as a place of residence. Its northern fringe is still rural, but the remainder has since 1850 been the scene of a most remarkable example of sustained inflow and settlement of population. This transformation, starting in West Ham, is described for the region as a whole in a special introductory article. The parish histories include Barking and Dagenham, which now contain the Becontree housing estate; the residential suburbs of Chingford and Ilford; and the market towns of Epping and Waltham Abbey.