Rainham is one of the most historic areas in Havering, if not the whole country. Not only does it have its roots going back to the Saxon period, there is strong evidence of a settlement before that with a Neolithic (or the new Stone Age dating back some 4,000-2,500 BC) site discovered west of Launders Lane in 1963. There are also remains of a Neolithic forest close to the mouth of the Mardyke River in Rainham Marshes.
An Anglo/Saxon burial ground from the 6th and 7th Centuries was discovered during excavations at Gerpins Lane Pit in 1930. A precious collections of objects such as swords, brooches, rings, spear heads and a pair of drinking horns were unearthed, as well as indications of earlier burials.
The original drinking horns are in the British Museum, but there is an exact copy on display in the Rainham Case in the Museum. Today the burial site is under the Gerpins Lane Tip in Gerpins Lane, Upminster. Archaeologists and local historians have often wondered what wealth of other priceless Saxon artefacts are still buried underneath the mounds of household rubbish at one of Havering’s official tips.
During the Middle Ages, the settlement of Rainham was grouped around the church of St. Helen and St. Giles. This is the oldest building in Havering, built in 1170. Among its many original features is a rare engraving of a medieval ship at anchor etched in the wall of a stairwell.