The town centre Parish Church of St. Margaret of Antioch was built in the grounds of Barking Abbey early in the 13th century and is situated a short walk from the Town Hall and main shopping centre. An excellent stop over for many visitors to the community on tours.
Barking Abbey was founded by St Erkenwald in 666AD and his sister St. Ethelburga became the first Abbess. The Abbey was endowed with land and property across an area whose boundaries were similar to the former municipal Boroughs of Barking, Dagenham and Redbridge making it one of the wealthiest in England until it was dissolved by order of Henry VIII in 1541.
The Patronage of the Parish was then transferred from the Abbey to William Pounsett of Loxford (now in the Parish of St Luke, Ilford) upon whose death the Patronage was given to All Souls College Oxford. Today the Patronage lies with All Souls and the Bishop,
At the entrance to the Churchyard is the “Grade 2*” Listed Curfew Tower (or Fire Bell Gate), the only part of the Abbey still standing.
In 2005/06 this was the subject of a conservation project with financial help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. The Abbey ruins and the Churchyard, with the area surrounding the Church and Church School, were designated a Conservation Area in 1975.
The Churchyard is maintained by the Local Authority as a public open space under a lease signed in the 1930’s.