A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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The statement that land at Wanstead was given to Westminster Abbey by Alfric in 1065 comes from a spurious charter, not supported by other evidence. (fn. 1) In 1086 the manor of WANSTEAD, comprising one hide, was held of the bishop of London by Ralph son of Brian. (fn. 2) It was said to have belonged formerly to the canons of St. Paul's, but that statement has been questioned. (fn. 3) The overlordship of the manor subsequently descended with the see of London. (fn. 4) After the death of Ralph son of Brian the tenancy in demesne appears to have been split between his two sons, Brian FitzRalph and Jordan de Briset (or Jordan FitzRalph), the founder of Clerkenwell Priory. (fn. 5) The grandson of Brian FitzRalph, also called Brian FitzRalph, was holding ½ hide at Wanstead in 1210–12. (fn. 6) The other half of the manor seems to have been divided on the death of Jordan de Briset between his daughters, Lettice, wife of Henry Foliot, Emme, wife of Reynold de Ginges, and Maud. (fn. 7) Maud's share passed to Robert Brito, who before 1176 subinfeudated it to Hugh of Hesdin (or Hosdeng). (fn. 8) Before 1182 Brito conveyed his rights in the property, including a capital messuage and a mark's rent, to Clerkenwell Priory, which thus became the intermediate tenant between the bishop and Hugh of Hesdin. (fn. 9) Hugh of Hesdin or his heirs probably secured the demesne tenancy of the whole of the manor. His son held the advowson of Wanstead in 1208, (fn. 10) and in 1242 his grandson owed service to Sir Ralph de Ginges, presumably in respect of Emme de Ginges's share of the manor. (fn. 11)
Hugh of Hesdin was succeeded by his son Ralph of Hesdin, who in 1197 acknowledged his service due to the nuns of Clerkenwell for 1/6 knight's fee in Wanstead. (fn. 12) Ralph (d. 1222) was succeeded by his son Hugh of Hesdin. (fn. 13) Hugh (d. 1242) held at the time of his death extensive lands in Wanstead and (East ?) Ham, including 169 a. in demesne and 20 a. meadow. (fn. 14) His widow Alice was granted custody of his lands in Essex and Buckinghamshire. (fn. 15) His son and heir Ralph of Hesdin died in 1247 leaving Joan his daughter and heir. (fn. 16)
Joan of Hesdin, who was still alive in 1259, was later succeeded by her father's sister Alice, wife of William Huntercombe (d. 1271). (fn. 17) Alice's son Thomas Huntercombe, also known as Thomas Hesdin, succeeded to Wanstead, which he was holding in 1303 for ½ knight's fee. (fn. 18) He died in 1327 leaving the manor to his son John Huntercombe. (fn. 19) In 1345 the manor was settled jointly on John Huntercombe (d. 1349) and his wife Christine (d. 1361). (fn. 20) On Christine's death Wanstead passed to their son (Sir) John Huntercombe, who died in 1368, holding the manor jointly with his wife Margaret, of the Bishop of London, Waltham Abbey, and the priories of Clerkenwell and Holy Trinity, Aldgate. (fn. 21) Holy Trinity, lord of Cann Hall, had in 1275 acquired from Reynold, son of Sir Ralph de Ginges, the annual quit-rent due to him from Wanstead manor. (fn. 22)
Margaret Huntercombe held the manor until her death in 1377. (fn. 23) Her son and heir John Huntercombe was then aged 15, but while the wardship of two-thirds of his land was granted to William Hanley and John James, Huntercombe himself was granted a share, with John James, in the remaining third. (fn. 24) In 1381, though still under age, John Huntercombe was granted freedom of the other two-thirds as he was about to go overseas. (fn. 25) At his death in 1383 he and his wife Margaret jointly held the manor of the bishop of London, and two other tenements, Naget Hall and Sayes. (fn. 26) Naget (later Naked) Hall, which they held of Barking Abbey, appears to have descended with Wanstead until the early 16th century, when it became the manor of Aldersbrook in Little Ilford. (fn. 27) Sayes, held of Waltham Abbey, was in the north of Wanstead parish, extending into Woodford. It passed with the manor of Wanstead down to the 19th century, when it comprised two fields called Great and Little Seas, totalling some 50 a. (fn. 28)
Margaret Huntercombe's life interest in the manor was confirmed in 1383. (fn. 29) Her son John Huntercombe died without issue in 1391. (fn. 30) Henry Popham was holding the manor in 1412, presumably as a lessee. (fn. 31) Margaret Huntercombe was still alive in 1427, when the reversion of the manor was bought by Robert Tatersal, draper and alderman of London, and his wife Amy from William Rous, who traced his title from Sir John Huntercombe (d. 1368). (fn. 32) The conveyance was, however, defective in law, since the manor was entailed on Rous and his heirs and not on him alone. (fn. 33) Robert Tatersal knew this, and on his death-bed, overcome with remorse, directed that after the deaths of Margaret Huntercombe and William Rous the manor should be conveyed to Rous's heirs. (fn. 34) Tatersal, and presumably Margaret Huntercombe also, were dead by October 1429, when Tatersal's widow Amy presented to the rectory of Wanstead. (fn. 35) In 1436 John, son of Robert Tatersal, swore an oath to carry out his father's instructions or to satisfy William Rous's heirs, as his faith and conscience required. (fn. 36) The exact requirements of his conscience are not revealed, but in 1437 he made some kind of settlement which secured the manor to himself in fee. (fn. 37)
John Tatersal died in 1447, leaving John, aged 6, his son and heir. (fn. 38) His widow Agnes later married William Kene, who presented to the rectory as late as 1457. (fn. 39) John Tatersal the son appears to have died without issue, and to have been succeeded by his sister Amy (or Anne), who with her husband (Sir) Ralph Hastings presented to the rectory in 1471. (fn. 40) Ralph (d. 1495) directed in his will that Amy might dispose of the manor as she wished. (fn. 41) She appears to have sold it to Henry VII in 1499. In that year the King paid £360 for Sir Ralph Hastings's land at Wanstead, and presented to the rectory. (fn. 42)
Both Henry VII and Henry VIII took a personal interest in the manor and sometimes hunted there. (fn. 43) Wanstead park was inclosed, (fn. 44) and from the beginning of his reign Henry VIII placed manor and park under a succession of keepers chosen from his close associates. (fn. 45) His last keeper was Sir Richard (later Lord) Rich, appointed in 1543. (fn. 46) In 1549 Edward VI granted Rich the lordship of the manor, the park, and the advowson of Wanstead. (fn. 47) In 1567 Rich leased most of the estate to James Lord, of Danbury, a baron of the Exchequer. (fn. 48) The lease later passed to Joan Lord, widow of James, who conveyed it to Thomas Lord and Lawrence Bingham. (fn. 49) Richard, Lord Rich, died in 1567, leaving Wanstead to his son Robert, Lord Rich, on condition that it was retained by his executors for seven years to the uses of his will. (fn. 50) In 1578 the freehold of the manor and the residue of the lease were bought by Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester. (fn. 51) At the same time Leicester bought the neighbouring manor of Stonehall in Ilford, which subsequently descended with Wanstead. (fn. 52)
Leicester mortgaged Wanstead and Stonehall in 1580 to Thomas Skinner for £4,000. (fn. 53) Skinner later threatened foreclosure, but Leicester appears to have redeemed the mortgage and held the manors to his death in 1588. (fn. 54) He often visited Wanstead and he bought land to enlarge the park. (fn. 55) The manor was confirmed in 1588 to his widow Lettice. (fn. 56) In 1590 she and her third husband, Sir Christopher Blount, were granted licence to convey the estate to Sir George Cary and Philip Butler, probably for the purpose of mortgaging it to repay some of Leicester's debts. (fn. 57) They failed, however, to repay his debt to the queen, and she seized the manor of Wanstead, retaining it until 1593, when she released it to Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, in exchange for other manors. (fn. 58) Essex was the son of the countess of Leicester by her first husband, and in 1590 she and Blount had entailed Wanstead and Stonehall upon him. (fn. 59) After his disgrace at court Essex spent much of his time at Wanstead. (fn. 60) In 1598, however, he sold the two manors to Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, elder brother of Sir Christopher Blount, for £4,300. (fn. 61) Lord Mountjoy, who was created earl of Devonshire in 1603, died in 1606, having settled the manors on Mountjoy Blount (later Lord Mountjoy and earl of Newport) his bastard son by Penelope, Lady Rich (d. 1607), whom Devonshire had married after her divorce in 1605. (fn. 62)
Mountjoy Blount sold Wanstead and Stonehall in 1617 to George Villiers, earl (later duke) of Buckingham, in order to secure a peerage. (fn. 63) In 1618–19 Buckingham's estate at Wanstead was valued at £362 a year. (fn. 64) He sold both manors in 1619 to Sir Henry Mildmay, for £7,300. (fn. 65) Mildmay, who later became master of the king's jewel-house but joined the Parliamentary side in the Civil War, suffered forfeiture at the Restoration. (fn. 66) In 1661 the king granted Wanstead and Stonehall to the duke of York, who sold them to Sir Robert Brooke. (fn. 67) Since Brooke was Mildmay's son-in-law, (fn. 68) this may have been an arrangement to mitigate the effects of the forfeiture, and Pepys states that Mildmay was at Wanstead House when he died. (fn. 69) Brooke (d. 1669) left the manors in trust to pay his debts. (fn. 70) In 1673–4 they were sold by the trustees and Brooke's heirs (his sister Mary Brooke and his nephew Nathaniel Bacon), to (Sir) Josiah Child (Bt.) for £11,500. (fn. 71) William Mildmay, son of Sir Henry, was a party to the sale, and seems to have had an interest in the manors up to that time.
Child (d. 1699) amassed a large fortune as an East India merchant. (fn. 72) He was succeeded by his son Sir Josiah Child, Bt. (d. 1704), who in 1699 leased Wanstead and Stonehall for 90 years to his half-brother Richard Child. (fn. 73) On Sir Josiah's death without issue Richard Child succeeded to his title and estates. (fn. 74) He built the great Wanstead House and was created Viscount Castlemaine (1718) and Earl Tylney (1733). In 1734 he took the surname of Tylney in consequence of his wife inheriting the large estates of that family. He was succeeded on his death in 1750 by his son John Tylney, Earl Tylney (d. 1784), who in 1734 had acquired a long lease of part of West Ham manor. (fn. 75) Having no descendants Tylney devised his estates to his sister's son, Sir James Long, Bt., of Draycot Cerne (Wilts.), who was already a rich landowner. (fn. 76) From Sir James (d. 1794) the Wanstead estate passed in succession to his infant son Sir James Long, Bt., who died without issue in 1805, and his eldest daughter Catherine Tylney Long. Catherine (d. 1825) married in 1812 William Wellesley-Pole (d. 1857), later earl of Mornington, nephew of the duke of Wellington, who took the surname of Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley. (fn. 77) A financial crisis led to the demolition in 1823–4 of Wanstead House, (fn. 78) but the estate was not then broken up. In the 1840s William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley still owned some 1,400 a. in the parishes of Wanstead (436 a.), Woodford, Leyton, Little Ilford, and Barking. (fn. 79) He was still holding manor courts at Wanstead in 1856. (fn. 80) The manor passed to his son William, earl of Mornington (d. 1863), who left it in trust to his father's cousin Henry Wellesley, Earl Cowley (d. 1884). (fn. 81) In 1880 Cowley sold part of Wanstead Park (184 a.) to the corporation of London for preservation as part of Epping Forest. (fn. 82) His family sold the rest of the park in 1920 to Wanstead Sports Ground Ltd., but still held some land in Wanstead in the 1930s. (fn. 83)
Wanstead House, originally called Wanstead Hall, lay about 300 yd. south-east of St. Mary's church. (fn. 84) Up to the 14th century it was probably small but by 1499 it was of sufficient size to serve as a royal hunting-lodge, and it seems to have been rebuilt or considerably enlarged in the later 16th century. Between 1715 and 1722 it was completely rebuilt as a Palladian mansion. It was demolished in 1823–4.
The manor-house was valued at only 1s. a year in 1271 and 6s. in 1350. (fn. 85) Henry VII visited Wanstead occasionally, as did Henry VIII during the early years of his reign. (fn. 86) Repairs were carried out in 1510–11 and 1542 but in 1549 the house was 'in great ruin'. (fn. 87) Richard, Lord Rich, owner 1549–67, is said to have rebuilt it. (fn. 88) Princess (later Queen) Mary stayed there in 1550–51 and 1553, and Elizabeth I in 1561 and on several later occasions. (fn. 89) Leicester is supposed to have improved and enlarged the building. (fn. 90) His probate inventory (1588) (fn. 91) mentions the great gallery, which contained, inter alia, a billiard table, an organ virginal, portraits of Henry VIII, Mary, and Elizabeth, and a few books. There were also a chapel, little gallery, great chamber, and some 20 bedrooms, one of which was kept ready for the queen. The furnishing included several tapestries. Among out-buildings were a stillhouse, brewhouse, dairy, forge, and stables. Leicester had kept 58 horses.
James I often visited Wanstead House and Charles I did so both as prince of Wales and as king. (fn. 92) When bought by (Sir) Josiah Child in 1673–4 the house, with 40 hearths, was one of the largest in Essex. (fn. 93) At that period it was a quadrangular two-storey building with many gables. (fn. 94) The symmetrical west (entrance) front of nine bays was approached across a forecourt flanked on each side by a three-storey gatehouse. The irregular east front was probably the oldest part of the building. Pepys thought the house 'a fine seat, but old-fashioned'. (fn. 95) Child made no important alterations to the building, but spent much money on laying out the grounds. (fn. 96) Evelyn in 1683 commented especially on the new fishponds and walnut plantations. (fn. 97) According to Defoe Sir Josiah added 'innumerable rows of trees … avenues and vistos, to the house, all leading up to the place where the old house stood, as to a centre'. (fn. 98) Further work on the park was carried out by Sir Richard Child soon after he succeeded to the estate. According to one statement this was started in 1706 and was one of the last designs of George London. (fn. 99) Drawings of c. 1715 show, running eastwards from the house, a short canal with a bowling green at the far end, flanking which was a formal parterre. (fn. 100) Farther east was the Roding, regimented into canals. North-east of the house was an orangery and west of it a lake across which ran the main drive leading to Leytonstone, flanked by avenues of trees in quincunx formation. Towards the end of his life, after rebuilding the house, the first Earl Tylney appears to have carried out further alterations to the park on slightly less formal lines. (fn. 101) The short canal and parterre were replaced by a terrace and a lawn. Farther east the diversion of the river into canals was elaborated, while to the south new serpentine ponds were made. The lake west of the house was enlarged to form an octagon called the Basin and the drive deflected round both sides of it. (fn. 102) By 1746 the park covered most of the parish between Wanstead Flats and South (Redbridge) Lane, with radiating avenues extending as far as Leytonstone and Snaresbrook. (fn. 103)
Wanstead House was completely rebuilt by Sir Richard Child to the design of Colen Campbell between 1715 and 1722. It was 'the archetype of the Palladian great house'. (fn. 104) The exterior, rectangular and cased in Portland stone, was some 260 ft. long and 75 ft. deep. On the west (entrance) front the principal storey of 21 bays was set above a rusticated ground floor and had as its central feature a grand Corinthian prostyle portico, from which a perron staircase descended on each side to the forecourt. Above the principal floor, centrally placed, was another storey of nine bays, containing two mezzanine floors. There was also a basement floor. (fn. 105) The east (garden) front was similar to the west front except that the central feature, not salient, comprised only a pediment and Corinthian pilasters; the perron staircase leading down from a balcony on the principal floor appears to have been removed between 1781 and 1823. No view of the completed house shows the great central cupola which dominates the roof in Campbell's drawings, and that feature was probably never built. In the 1720s and 1730s there were plans to extend the house to the west by adding quadrant colonnades and wings, (fn. 106) enclosing a spacious forecourt. They were apparently not carried out, but instead of the wings low walls were built, decorated with urns and obelisks. (fn. 107)
The grand entrance hall was 51 ft. long, 36 ft. wide, and 36 ft. high. (fn. 108) Behind it, looking across the gardens, was the saloon, forming a 30-ft. cube. At the south end of the house, running the whole depth, was the ballroom. That was the room depicted in William Hogarth's 'Assembly at Wanstead House' (1729), which shows an interior in the style of Inigo Jones, with a tall marble chimney piece surmounted by consoles and a scroll pediment. The woodwork was painted green, with gilded ornaments and mouldings. An inventory of the contents in 1822, together with earlier descriptions, provide details of the rich furnishing and ornaments brought together by successive owners of the house. (fn. 109) The hall contained two statues from the ruins of Herculanaeum, and paintings by Andrea Casali. Its ceiling was painted by William Kent, with figures representing Morning, Noon, and Night. The ballroom was hung with tapestries said to have come from the old house and to have dated from Leicester's time. Among many other treasures were paintings by Holbein, Raphael, Rembrandt, and Van Dyck.
Wanstead House ranked with the greatest mansions of the time and was much admired. (fn. 110) Even Horace Walpole, who was inclined to ridicule the taste of its parvenu owners, admitted the grandeur of the scene. (fn. 111) Many distinguished guests went there, to enjoy a hospitality reputed to be unprecedented since the days of Wolsey. (fn. 112) Few changes seem to have been made to the house or the park in the later 18th century. Many of the art treasures already mentioned were bought by the second Earl Tylney during his residence in Italy. (fn. 113) He built the grotto (c. 1762) and probably also the temple, both on the eastern side of the park. (fn. 114) The orangery was demolished in 1799. (fn. 115) By the early 19th century the landscaping of the park had been softened, especially on the east side, by the natural growth of trees. (fn. 116) During the minorities following Sir James Long's death in 1794 the house was sometimes let. Louis Joseph, Prince de Condé, was living there in 1807. (fn. 117) William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley, who became master of Wanstead House on his marriage to Catherine Long in 1812, lived there and for a few years entertained in grand style. In 1814 it was said that he was setting up Wanstead House to surpass Carlton House and that the interior was being transformed into a 'uniform blaze of burnished gold'. (fn. 118) At the same time he was altering the park in preparation for a fête to celebrate his son's baptism and the return from the war of his uncle the duke of Wellington. (fn. 119) By 1820, however, Long-Wellesley was in desperate financial straits resulting mainly though not entirely from his extravagance and bad management. (fn. 120) Under the marriage settlement he and Catherine had only limited power to mortgage the estate and could not sell any land. Their most valuable disposable assets were the fabric and contents of Wanstead House. The contents were sold in 1822. (fn. 121) The building was sold for demolition in 1823 to Stannard and Athow of Norwich. (fn. 122) As a result of these sales the possessions of the Tylney Longs were widely scattered. (fn. 123)
The site of Wanstead House is marked by a depression on the first hole of Wanstead golf course. North of it part of the 18th-century stable court, of brick and weather-boarded timber, survives as the golf club house. The stone piers of the main entrance gates, bearing Sir Richard Child's monogram, still stand in Overton Drive, and the temple, now keepers' cottages, in the centre of Wanstead Park. East of the temple are the ruins of the grotto, which was gutted by fire in 1884. (fn. 124) Some of the ornamental waters survive, including the Basin, and Perch, Heronry, and Shoulder of Mutton ponds. Two other ponds, at the south end of Blake Hall Road, have disappeared. (fn. 125) The westernmost contained an island on which was Lake House, an early-18th-century building said to have been a banqueting hall or summer-house. It was later a residence. Thomas Hood (1799–1845), the poet, lived there 1832–5. (fn. 126) It was demolished in 1908. (fn. 127)
The manor of CANN HALL or CANONS HALL comprised most of the Wanstead Slip, together with a few fields in West Ham. (fn. 128) The manor originated in Hugh de Montfort's Domesday holding of 3 hides and 30 a. in Leyton. (fn. 129) Two hides of that holding were given by Montfort's daughter Adela and her first husband Simon de Moulins to the canons of Holy Trinity, Aldgate, and the grant was confirmed by the king about 1121. (fn. 130) Adela's second husband, Robert de Vere, later confirmed the gift, as did King Stephen. (fn. 131) A tithe composition relating to Cann Hall was made in 1208 between Holy Trinity and the rector of Wanstead. (fn. 132) It suggests that the manor was by then in Wanstead, though the priory's tenants were still being described as 'of Leyton' as late as 1369. (fn. 133)
Holy Trinity retained Cann Hall until the priory's dissolution in 1532. In 1533 several petitions were made to the Crown for possession of the manor, though the poverty of its buildings made it no great prize. (fn. 134) It was granted in 1534 for life to Nicholas Sympson, a groom of the Privy Chamber, who in the following year was given licence to hold it jointly with his wife Joan in survivorship. (fn. 135) Nicholas died in 1552 or 1553 and Joan in 1562. (fn. 136) Cann Hall then passed to Nicholas Strelley, whose father John Strelley (d. 1559), vintner of London, had obtained the reversion in 1554; in 1559 the manor had been valued at £10 a year. (fn. 137)
Nicholas Strelley (d. 1611) left as heir his daughter Cecily, wife of Humphrey Cardinall of Great Humby (Lincs.), (fn. 138) but Cann Hall was claimed by Robert Woolhouse, Cecily's cousin, under an entail created in John Strelley's will. (fn. 139) The claimants evidently compromised. Woolhouse took two-thirds of Cann Hall, while the other third was retained by Cecily and Humphrey Cardinall, who appear, in fact, to have been holding it by 1603. (fn. 140)
The Cardinalls' third of the manor was bought in 1619 by Thomas Boothby, who transferred it soon after to his son Richard. (fn. 141) The other two-thirds descended from Robert Woolhouse (d. 1634) to his son Thomas, (fn. 142) who appears to have sold it to Richard Boothby in or soon after 1639. (fn. 143) Richard Boothby was certainly holding the whole manor from 1652. (fn. 144) He sold it in 1662 to James Flesher (d. 1671), stationer of London. (fn. 145) Under Flesher's will Cann Hall was sold in 1671 to William Colegrave for £2,750. (fn. 146)
The manor remained in the Colegrave family until the 19th century, being usually let to tenants. William Colegrave the purchaser appears to have been identical with the man of that name who died in 1721. (fn. 147) In 1715 he was listed among Roman Catholics refusing oaths of loyalty. (fn. 148) The estate was then on lease to John Hewitt and Richard St. Pierre. (fn. 149) At that period the perquisites of the manor were worth about £65 a year, and the farm about £105. (fn. 150) Cann Hall passed in succession to William Colegrave's sons Henry (d. 1722) and William (d. 1749). (fn. 151) William (d. 1793), son of the last-named William Colegrave, was succeeded by his brother Robert (d. 1801). (fn. 152) In 1799 the manor comprised 230 a. let to three tenants. (fn. 153)
Robert Colegrave was succeeded by his sister's son John Manby (d. 1819). (fn. 154) William Manby (d. 1868), nephew and heir of John Manby, took the name of Colegrave. (fn. 155) In 1840 he sold 3 a. to the Northern and Eastern Railway Co. for £1,000. (fn. 156) In 1841 his estate comprised 205 a. in Wanstead and 17 a. in West Ham. (fn. 157) Most of it was occupied by Richard Plaxton, who was still there in 1855. (fn. 158) In 1862 the tenant was John Robinson. (fn. 159) John Manby Colegrave, who succeeded his father as lord of the manor in 1868, died in 1879. (fn. 160) Most of the estate was developed for building c. 1880–95, (fn. 161) but the Colegraves retained part of it until 1900. (fn. 162) Among local street names commemorating them and their connexions are Colegrave, Downsell, Ellingham, and Worsley Roads. (fn. 163)
In 1533 the only buildings attached to the manor were two old barns and a little cottage. (fn. 164) By 1746 Cann Hall included buildings on both sides of Cann Hall Lane. (fn. 165) In 1841 the main farm buildings lay north of the lane, and there was a cottage to the south of it. (fn. 166) By the 1860s the cottage, enlarged, had become a residence with ornamental gardens called Cann Hall; the buildings north of the lane were called Cann Hall farm. (fn. 167) None of the buildings has survived.