Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …
Wanstead was first recorded in c. 1055 as Waenstede, from the Old English waen, or waenn, and stede, and referring to either a place where wagons were kept or one beside a mound (note, though, that the area had clearly been settled as long ago as the Roman period, numerous remains from that period having recently come to light, including a mosaic).
In the Saxon period, the manor was owned first by Westminster Abbey and later by the Bishops of London. Wanstead Hall was built here in the late Medieval period, and extended in the post-Medieval (see below). It was replaced by a new building, Wanstead House, in the eighteenth century, which was substantially demolished in the early nineteenth (see below). The railway only arrived in the later nineteenth century, and as recently as 1861 the population was as low as 3000. Wanstead remains a remote suburb of London to this day, and retains a distinct identity, being largely separated from surrounding built-up areas by extensions of Epping Forest (including the frameless and wild Wanstead Flats).
Saxon Greater London is discussed on our “Dark Age [Anglo-Saxon and Viking] London” themed special.
Further details of all our walks are available in the “Guided Walks” section of our web-site.
Wanstead Hall was built here in the late Medieval period, and extended in the post-Medieval. It was acquired by Henry VII in 1499, and visited by a succession of kings and queens throughout the later part of the Tudor period and into the Stuart period, including Henry VII, Henry VIII, Mary, Elizabeth I and James I (not to mention the future James II).
The old hall was bought, and developed, by Sir Josiah Child, the Governor of the East India Company and later First Baronet of Wanstead, in 1667. (John Evelyn wrote in his diary in 1683: “I went to see Sir Josiah Child’s prodigious cost in planting walnut trees about his seate, and making fish ponds many miles in circuit in Epping Forest, in a barren place”).
It was replaced by a new Palladian mansion named Wanstead House, built by one of Josiah’s successors, Richard Child, between 1715-22. Wanstead House was in turn substantially demolished in 1825, with only some out-buildings surviving to this day, including the Grotto and Temple.