Lake House Estate

The present-day Lake House housing estate has Wanstead Flats to the south and west, Bush Wood to the north and is separated from Reservoir Wood and Wanstead Park by Blake Hall Road to the east. It occupies the site of the lake on which was situated the house from which Lake House Road gets its name. (photos)

The house, originally called the Russian Farm, was an early 18th century building and may have originally been a banqueting hall or summerhouse - an outbuilding to Wanstead House. It was situated on an island, or at least a peninsular, of the lake. Later it was used as a residence, and Thomas Hood the poet lived there from 1832-5. It was demolished in 1908, having been used for some years as a sports pavilion by several clubs.

The Great Lake, as it was known, was the first in the chain of lakes that lay in the grounds of Wanstead House. Numerous designs were proposed before its eventual creation. The French cartographer Jean Rocque prepared a number of plans for for Earl Tylney in 1735, and the lake system is shown on his series of maps "Environs of London" of 1745. (see map)

"Rocque's plans of the Great Lake show at least two designs. One is an incredible cartwheel, with an island at the centre as a hub, and four great waterways radiating from it like spokes, ending in a circular waterway right around the rim. Had it been constructed, it would have been almost 1,000 feet in diameter at its widest points A second design took the form of a trapezium, on a similar massive scale. Complete plans of the entire estate show each of those designs as if they existed, and for the unwary can cause confusion between intent and reality. It never proved possible to realise either of the grand designs for the Great Lake, which remained a rather irregular shape, reputedly very shallow, and by the time of its disappearance in about 1908, no more than a collection of marshy puddles."

Following the construction of the present Lake House estate of houses, apart from the outline which follows the original pattern of the estate, nothing can be seen to indicate the presence of the lake itself, apart from the depression which is occupied by the Aldersbrook Tennis Club. This is below the embankment which carries Blake Hall Road and which separated the Great Lake from the west end of The Reservoir. Blake Hall Road itself was authorised to be constructed by an act of Parliament of 1816.