Barkingside was historically part of Essex until 1965, when the Greater London boroughs were created. Barkingside is chiefly known for the children's charity Barnardo's, which was founded there in 1866, and still has its headquarters there. Some of the oldest buildings in Barkingside include the Barnardo's chapel, the underground station, which was originally an Edwardian railway station, and Holy Trinity Church, which dates from 1840. Barkingside is also known for having a particularly large Jewish community, along with much of the surrounding area of north Ilford and Chigwell.
Many of the buildings along the A123Barkingside High Street are owned by entrepreneur Alan Sugar. At the northern end of the High Street is Fullwell Cross roundabout, which gives its name to the adjacent swimming baths and distinctive circular library, as well as the council neighbourhood bordering the north west of Barkingside proper. Fulwell Cross takes its name from a mediaeval preaching cross that once stood there. Long before there was a church, monks from Barking Abbey would go there to conduct outdoor services for the farmers of Barkingside. At the Fulwell Cross roundabout is a pub, the Fairlop Oak, named after a giant tree, under which an annual fair took place for centuries.