St Mary's Church in Wanstead was designed by Thomas Hardwick and built at a cost of £9000, some of the cost and the site being provided by Sir James Tylney-Long. The first stone was laid on July 13th 1787 by Sir James Tylney Long, and it was completed in 1790. Built in a classical style, with two pairs of Tuscan columns at the porch, it would have complemented the style of Wanstead House itself. It is of brick, faced with Portland stone.
One of the show-pieces of the interior is the monument to Sir Josiah Child, a chairman of the East India Company. As owner of the estate of Wanstead House, it was he who had the grounds of Wanstead House laid out in the form in which we see them today.
The seating is provided in box pews, and there is a gallery around three sides.
Beneath the church there is a crypt consisting of 15 vaults off a passage some 25 metres in length, the entrance to which is via a passage of some 10 metres in length originating outside the church itself.
The Church is a Grade 1 listed building - the only one in Redbridge.
The graveyard - Plant Life
The plant-life of the graveyard was surveyed some 60 years ago by Gulielma Lister, niece of Lord Lister, famous as the pioneer of vaccination. The report was published in the Essex Naturalist (Vol. 27) as "THE FLORA OF WANSTEAD PARK DISTRICT by GULIELMA LISTER, F.L.S." (Read on 29th November, 1941). A copy of the species list is available HERE.
As the graveyard was very much within the Wren Group's study area, situated as it is to the north of Wanstead Park and adjacent to Wanstead Golf Course, I made a cursory survey of the plants to be found there in 1981. 102 species of plants were found. The list also includes those plants noted by Lister, so that comparisons could be made with the past and present flora. It could be seen that many of the more unusual species still persisted, although 28 species were not noted. The list is available HERE.