Wanstead Parklands - Tree Avenues

Wanstead ParklandsThe tree avenues as shown on Roque's map of 1745

Plans of the lands that comprised the estate of the owners of Wanstead House show extensive avenues of trees radiating from the house, particularly in the direction of London.

Some of these have been re-established to some extent - old trees having been replaced with newer ones - but there are in the area a few substantially large and old trees remaining from much earlier plantings. Particularly significant are specimens of sweet chestnut Castanea sativa in Bush Wood and on George Green, Wanstead.

As part of an "Introduction to Local Wildlife" course run during 2006/7 at the Workers Education Authority's (WEA) Wanstead House (a somewhat newer one!), some measurements of the trees on George Green were made. This involved measuring the girth and height of the four old trees that remain on the Green, plus a tree that was planted as a replacement in 1999. The girth measurement was made by means of a tape measure around the tree at the recommended height of 1.5 metres ("chest height"). The height measurement was made by means of an Inclinometer. This is a relatively simple device, which by aiming to the top-most part of the tree with the sights at an angle of 45 degrees (involving walking towards and away from the tree until that angle is achieved), and then measuring the distance from the observer to the tree and deducting the height of the observer from the result - a tree-height may be obtained. (photos)

During the exercise, a video record was being made on behalf of the Wanstead Parklands Community Project.

This exercise, particularly getting the knack of using the inclinometer, caused a deal of amusement amongst the course attendees, seemed to frighten the local home-bound schoolchildren, and elicited a visit from the police. Anyway, no arrests were made, no trees were injured, and results were obtained as follows:

Sweet Chestnut Trees on George Green, Wanstead

1   OS Reference: 40682 88069  Girth: 3.75cm. Height 6.8m.
Comment: Pollarded.

2   OS Reference: 40636 88143  Girth: 18cm. Height 3.8m.
Comment: Planted 1999.                                                  Position: 11.5m south of Tree 3, below.

3   OS Reference: 40630 88151  Girth: 1.6m. Height 13.0m.
Comment: Part of trunk missing; only half girth measured.  Position: 7.0m south of Tree 4, below
.    The tree was struck by lightning in 1984.

4   OS Reference: 40634 88161  Girth: 3.9m. Height 21.1m.
Comment:  Tallest specimen of this group.                       Position: 7.6m south of Tree 5, below

5    OS Reference: 40630 88167  Girth: 6.0m. Height 18.8m.
Comment:  Second tallest specimen of this group.           Position: In same alignment as trees 2, 3 and 4.

Data collected by WEA Conservation class from Wanstead House, 6.iii.2007.

A return visit was made to the trees on George Green on 14/10/08. (photos). Although measurements were made of trees 1 and 5, as was expected, no noticeable increase in girth was measured. However tree 2, which was planted in 1999 as a replacement for the old tree that was felled as part of the Hackney-Redbridge road system, had increased from a girth of 18cm to 22cm. This is in spite of damage to the base of the tree caused, presumably, by the action of a sit-on grass mowing machine getting too close. (photo) This damage was also noticeable on other trees in the vicinity