Wanstead // is a suburban area in the London Borough of Redbridge, North-East London (formerly in Essex). The main road going through Wanstead is the A12. The name is from the Anglo-Saxon words wænn and stede, meaning "settlement on a small hill".
The town has a largely suburban feel, containing open grasslands such as Wanstead Flats, and the woodland of Wanstead Park (part of Epping Forest). The park, with artificial lakes, was originally part of the estate of a large stately home Wanstead House, one of the finest Palladian mansions in Britain, from its size and splendour nicknamed the English Versailles, and the architectural inspiration for Mansion House, London. It was demolished after the bankruptcy of the owner, William Wellesley-Long, in 1824. It is also home to Wanstead Golf club, which has hosted many of the major events in the Essex County calendar. A notable landmark towards the northern edge of Wanstead is the former Wanstead Hospital building, now a housing complex. A small annex of the old Burns Unit is now used for research on Flu vaccines and bovine diseases.
Wanstead High Street is distinctive because of its many independent retailers, attracting shoppers from a wide area. Public houses include The George (which began life as the George and Dragon in the 18th century), The Cuckfield and Bar Room Bar.
The name Wanstead is first recorded about 1050.
In 1707 the astronomer James Pound became rector of Wanstead. In 1717 the Royal Society lent Pound Huygens's 123-foot object-glass, which he set up in Wanstead Park. Pound's observations with it of the five known satellites of Saturn enabled Halley to correct their movements; and Newton employed, in the third edition of the Principia, his micrometrical measures of Jupiter's disc, of Saturn's disc and ring, and of the elongations of their satellites; and obtained from him data for correcting the places of the comet of 1680. Laplace also used Pound's observations of Jupiter's satellites for the determination of the planet's mass; and Pound himself compiled in 1719 a set of tables for the first satellite, into which he introduced an equation for the transmission of light.
Pound trained his sister's son, James Bradley, and many of their observations were made together, including the opposition of Mars in 1719, and the transit of Mercury on 29 October 1723. Their measurement of γ Virginis in 1718 was the first made of the components of a double star and was directed towards the determination of stellar parallax.
In 1727, Bradley embarked upon a series of observations using a telescope of his own, erected at the rectory in Wanstead, now the site of Wanstead High School. This instrument had the advantage of a large field of view and he was able to obtain precise positions of a large number of stars that transited close to the zenith over the course of about two years. This established the existence of the phenomenon of aberration of light, and also allowed Bradley to formulate a set of rules that would allow the calculation of the effect on any given star at a specified date.
The George Public House
Although The George is not a particularly old building, there has been a pub on that site for hundreds of years. Set in to the side of the pub is a plaque dating from 1752 which was formerly part of an older pub building. The plaque is inscribed with the eccentrically spelled verse:
- In Memory of
- Ye Cherry Pey
- As cost 1/2 a Guiney
- Ye 17 of July
- That day we had good cheer
- I hope to so do maney a Year
- R C 1752 D Jerry
There are various local legends explaining this curious plaque, including a tale of the theft of a cherry pie by local workmen who were caught and fined half a guinea (52.5p). However the most likely explanation is that it was placed there by the landlord of 1752, David Jersey (corrupted by centuries of repainting and re-cutting the inscription to D Jerry on the plaque), commemorating a feast which included a huge cherry pie. Monstrous pies were a feature of 18th-century Essex rural festivals; the Tollesbury Gooseberry Pie festival is still in existence, and other inns around the edge of Epping Forest were famed for pies (rabbit pie at The Reindeer, Loughton, now Warren House, and pigeon pie at The King's Head, Chigwell). Wanstead was well known for its cherry orchards as late as the 1830s, when they were mentioned by poet Thomas Hood, who lived in Wanstead 1832-5.
Royal Commercial Travellers Schools
The Royal Commercial Travellers Schools were founded in 1845 by John Robert Cuffley, first in Wanstead, moving to Pinner in 1855. The schools at Wanstead provided housing, food, clothing and education for up to 130 children of commercial travellers who had died or became unable to earn their livelihood.
The Royal Merchant Navy School was founded in St George in the East, London in 1827 before moving to Hermon Hill, Wanstead in 1862. The new building provided for 300 orphans of Merchant Navy seamen. It moved again to Bearwood near Wokingham in 1921. The building then became a convent refuge for women and girls and later Wanstead Hospital.
United Reformed Church
St Luke's Church, Camden, demolished for the building of the original St Pancras Station was re-erected piece by piece in 1867 as a Congregational church in Wanstead, and still exists (now a United Reformed church).
Local flora and fauna
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An area near the A12 M11 Link Road (which was built in the 1990s) beside the section from Blake Hall Road to Selsdon Road was in 2008 preserved by local residents as a Wild-Flower Meadow with a year-round display of wild and naturalised plants, shrubs and trees; starting in spring with oxlip (P. elatoir), cowslip (Primula veris), primrose (P. vulgaris), and meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris), followed by many species including the grass vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia). The meadow is listed as one of the main Primula species meadows in Greater London. The fauna of the area includes birds, foxes, Muntjac deer, and squirrels.
Wanstead is home to a large comprehensive school, Wanstead High School. There are six primary schools in Wanstead: Wanstead church school, Our Lady of Lourdes, Aldersbrook, Nightingale, Snaresbrook and St. Joseph's Convent school which is an all-girls private school.
Transport and locale
- Nearest places
- Underground stations
- Nearest railway stations
- Wood Street railway station for London Liverpool Street station on the Lea Valley Lines route.
- Leytonstone High Road railway station
- Charles Bressey, civil engineer
- Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and favourite of Elizabeth I, had a house here, in which he died, much to Elizabeth's intense sorrow, on 4 September 1588, three days before the Queen's 55th birthday.
- Thomas Hood, the poet.
- Peter Goddard, physicist and journalist.
- William Penn, the Quaker.
- James Pound, astronomer.
- Max Raison (1901–1988), cricketer
- Richard Sheridan, the dramatist. Sheridan lived in the right hand house of the Georgian Terrace in the High Street near to the George. For many years now there has been single storey shop premises built in the front garden of the house
- Mark Stephens (solicitor) - Lawyer, mediator, writer & broadcaster
- Jessie Wallace, Actress. Lived in Wanstead until late 2006.
- Tom Watt - Actor
- Pewsey, S (2005), The Wanstead Cherry Pie Stone, Wanstead Historical Society
- Wanstead Church school
- Our Lady of Lourdes School
- The Wanstead Society
- Parish of Wanstead
- Wanstead Village Directory