Bush Wood - introduction

Bush Wood - a tree avenue

 

Bush Wood is an area of Epping Forest that lies between Wanstead Flats to the south and Leyton Flats to the north, with Wanstead Park and the parklands that once comprised the Wanstead Estate to the east. The area is divided into two sections by Bush Road - south of this Bush Wood is predominantly a wooded area consisting of about 13 hectares and north of Bush Road an area 7.5 hectares has woodland in the eastern part and an area of open grassland to the west.

Where the wood merges into part of Wanstead Flats a purely artificial boundary between the two areas has been taken as the footpath from Belgrave Road to the road called Bushwood. The rest of the southern boundary consists of the garden fences of the houses in Belgrave Road and the concrete fence of the high-rise block, Belgrave Heights. Blake Hall Road forms the eastern boundary. The other boundaries are the road called Bushwood and the Hackney Link Road (opened in 1999). To the north are the gardens of the houses in Woodcote Road.

There are three buildings that project into the wood. Two of these at the eastern edge by Blake Hall Road are Epping Forest keeper's lodges. The other, by Bush Road, is a Quaker Meeting House with a high brick wall surrounding its large garden. Click here for more information. The garden warrants furthur investigation into its plant-life as it is in fact an enclosed portion of the Forest. West of this wall the area being considered is mostly grassland, but with trees along the edge of the wall and along Bushwood. Near the south end of the wall is a clearing which reaches into the centre of the wood, and there is another less-wooded area along the southern boundary running parallel to the tree avenue.

At the western edge of Bush Wood, near the Green Man public house, is a small public garden. This was the site of the Green Man Pond, which existed until the 1950s. Another aspect of Bush Wood may be noted: near the keeper's cottage in Bush Wood (south) is the remains of a drinking fountain which is on the site of a small spring that once existed here. This may have been the site of a mineral spring which was discovered in Wanstead in 1619 and which for a short time was a fashionable spa.

From Blake Hall Road a long avenue of trees stretches in an easterly direction towards Leytonstone. This is Evelyn's Avenue, part of the elaborate system of tree-avenues that radiated from the estate of Wanstead House. The remains of secondary avenues, leading off the main one, are also present in Bush Wood and include the remaining specimens of sweet chestnuts that were planted perhaps some 300 years ago.

An unusual "Swiss Cottage" once stood at the southern edge of the wood. This was a timber-framed building dating from about 1850, in a corner of the grounds of Lake House. After the present Lake House estate was built, the cottage remained at the edge of Bush Wood and was accessible by a bridge across a ditch or stream. The cottage was demolished in 1962 in spite of local protests when the Metropolitan Police erected a multi-story accommodation block for police cadets on the site.The ditch - albeit without water - still remains. A door (always locked) in the concrete fence which protects the block - now a residential development called Belgrave Heights - does mark the position of the bridge, which can be ascertained from the view shown on a postcard (click here)

The ditch probably at one time carried drainage water from Bush Wood - including possibly from the Great Lake and Green Man Pond - to Reservoir Wood, now across Blake Hall Road, and thence into the Shoulder of Mutton Pond. It would have contributed an important source of the supply of water to Wanstead Park's lake system. (See "The Lake System of Wanstead Park" on the Friends of Wanstead Parklands website)

A plant survey of the wood was carried out between 1975 and 1979 on behalf of the Wren Conservation Group, and the results published as "The Flora of Southern Epping Forest" Part 2: Wanstead Flats and Bush Wood, The London Naturalist, No 60, 1981, by  P. R. FERRIS

Some of the text here has been based on that included in the publication, but has been significantly updated for the website. Click here for the update of that survey.