Wanstead - a light-hearted look at where and what it is
Wanstead is an area of east London approximately 6.85 miles north-east of the City of London. This distance is taken from St Paul's Cathedral to Christ Church near Wanstead High Street, and is as a Crow (Corvus corone) flying in an incredibly straight line, might fly.
It is an east London suburb which still has something of the feel of a village about it - though only just. It is located between the River Lee (or Lea) to the west, which is the historical boundary between Middlesex and Essex, and the River Roding to the east; which is the more recent boundary between the postal districts of London and Ilford, Essex.
In 2007 the census details gave a population of 87661, although this also includes the neighbouring area of Leyton, because Wanstead is part of the Parliamentary Constituency of Leyton and Wanstead.
Wanstead is in Greater London, part of the London Borough of Redbridge. It is also in Essex. In fact, so deep rooted is the fact that Wanstead is in Essex (that is, east of the River Lee or Lea) that many inhabitants insist that letters sent to them via the Royal Mail postal service are addressed as "Wanstead, Essex". This is despite the fact that they are actually in Leytonstone, LONDON, E11, as far as Royal Mail's routing codes (addresses) for letters are concerned.
But Wanstead is greater than a routing code; the Red Bridge itself (or at least the bridge that replaced the Red Bridge) is to the east, crossed by the Eastern Avenue (the A12); beyond is Redbridge. This is part of Ilford (in the London Borough of Redbridge), but definitely in Essex if only because the postal addresses say so (ILFORD, Essex, IG...)
Just to the west of Wanstead is that part of Wanstead which is called Snaresbrook, and a little further west still the Borough boundary is crossed, and Waltham Forest (London Borough of) is entered. Here we are in Walthamstow (LONDON, E17), so we have left Wanstead.
But Wanstead contains within its boundaries a little known marvel - Wanstead Park. It is part of Epping Forest as is Wanstead Flats - although these are not in Wanstead!
Other areas - not in Wanstead - but within the remit of WWL, are Bush Wood, Leyton Flats and Gilbert's Slade - all parts of Epping Forest. Wanstead Park is separated only by a single road from Bush Wood. This in turn, is separated only by the Green Man roundabout from Leyton Flats (in fact, adjacent to Leytonstone). Leyton Flats is not flats (ie high-rise buildings) at all - but a mainly flat area of grassland - with lots of trees and shrubs! It is part the London Borough of Walthamstow, which we entered north of Snaresbrook.
Just across the Snaresbrook Road, north of Leyton Flats, the Forest of Epping continues northwards through an area known as Gilbert's Slade. It is not far from Wanstead, and adjacent to it, and the wildlife (I'll get round to that in more detail) is just as interesting, so it has been included in the "in and around Wanstead" label. But at the north end of Gilbert's Slade, Epping Forest has been gashed more severely even than at the Green Man roundabout in Leytonstone. Thus this part of Epping Forest is probably known more to drivers than to naturalists. It is Waterworks Corner. And here - at least in a northerly direction - it is convenient to limit the extent of "in and around Wanstead"
The western delineation is quite conveniently made by the edge of Epping Forest itself, down to Whipps Cross roundabout.
And what about the southern boundary? It follows Capel Road and Forest View Road by Wanstead Flats. By "the Flats" are the enclaves of Lake House and Aldersbrook - both rather nice estates of houses adjacent to parts of Epping Forest. The Lake House estate is situated between Bush Wood and Wanstead Flats and is in Leytonstone E11 (or Wanstead, Essex) in the London Borough of Redbridge, and Aldersbrook is situated between Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats and is in Manor Park E12 (or Wanstead, Essex) - in the London Borough of Redbridge.
Part of the south edge of Wanstead Flats abuts on to Forest Gate in the London Borough of Newham. This is the Forest Gate that is LONDON, E7, although it is probable that a few people would prefer to be in Wanstead, Essex. The nearest railway station in Forest Gate to Wanstead Flats is Wanstead Park, so this may support their claim (though not their routing code). The other part of the south edge of Wanstead Flat - more to the east - are adjacent to Manor Park, which is LONDON E12. The Flats themselves are in Redbridge (mostly).
The western edge of Wanstead Flats, nearer to Forest Gate, still abuts on to Forest Gate (E7), although in the vicinity of the Jubilee Pond, the houses in Forest Gate are in the London Borough of Walthamstow. Indeed, by Sidney Road in Forest Gate, even what is considered here to be part of Wanstead Flats (LB Redbridge - remember?) is in LB Waltham Forest. Further north - across Lakehouse Road, the houses that act as a boundary to the Flats are in Leytonstone (E11). The Flats here merge into Bush Wood.
So that brief outline encompasses Wanstead itself, (the village/town), and neighbouring parts of Epping Forest which are incorporated into the study area dealt with here. But still - where to stop? Because the wildlife doesn't necessarily stop anywhere; it is no revelation to anybody that a totally wild fox may be seen wandering through any of the streets, housing estates or forest already mentioned.
Within Wanstead - for example St Mary's churchyard - or near to it (eg the City of London Cemetery or the Alders Brook) are areas of "wild" or semi-wild habitats that have a host of wildlife. They also have a host of non- "wild" life, particularly species of plants that have been deliberately introduced but nevertheless contribute enormously to the diversity of habitats, species and the ecology of the area.
"Wanstead Wildlife" then will strive to take account of the area primarily looking at the animals, birds and plants that may be found here, something of the history which has led to how it is today, a little of the ecology of the area, and issues that arise relating to these aspects.
Paul Ferris, 7th March 2007