January 11th, 2016

andrew potter

Queer Places: Wanstead Park

Address: Wanstead Park, London, UK

Wanstead Park is a grade II listed municipal park covering an area of about 140 acres (57 hectares), located in Wanstead, in the London Borough of Redbridge, historically within the county of Essex. It is bordered to the north by the A12 road, to the east by the River Roding and A406 North Circular Road, to the south by the Aldersbrook Estate and the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium and to the west by Wanstead Golf Course. It is administered as part of Epping Forest by the City of London Corporation, having been purchased by the Corporation in 1880. Today's park once formed part of the deer park of the former manor house of ancient Wanstead Manor, which included much of the urbanised area now known as Wanstead.
Ordinance Survey maps mark the site of a Roman Villa in present day Wanstead Park. The name Wanstead is probably of Saxon origin - indicating a possible continuity of settlement here since Roman times - and is accepted by the English Place-Names Society as derived from Wen, signifying a hill or mound, and Stead, a place. It is said that in Saxon times Abbot Aelfric granted the manor of Wanstead to the monks of Westminster Abbey yet this cannot be substantiated from any documentary evidence. However, the location was clearly a prized site on the east side of London.

In 1086 the Domesday Book states that Wanstead Manor was held from the Bishop of London by one Ralph son of Brian. Wanstead was then densely wooded, being situated within the Forest of Essex. It was part of the forest bailiwick of Becontree during the Middle Ages and later of the Leyton "Walk".
The manor house, known as Wanstead Hall, was probably quite a small building until the 14th century, but by 1499 it was large enough to serve as a royal hunting-lodge, when it was acquired by King Henry VII, and it was to become one of whose favourite resorts. Lord Richard Rich, High Chancellor of England, was keeper of the park in 1543, and in 1549 Edward VI granted him the lordship of the manor of Wanstead, complete with the park. In 1577 Rich's son Robert sold it to Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, who purchased the nearby manor of Stonhall in Ilford at the same time. Thereafter a succession of owners kept the manor of Wanstead combined with Stonehall.
In 1619 Sir Henry Mildmay was in possession, but forfeited the manor to the Crown at the end of the Civil War, in which he had fought for Parliament. Charles II granted the estate to his brother, James, Duke of York, but it was restored in about 1662 to Sir Robert Brooke, Mildmay's son in law. In 1673-4 the manor was purchased by Josiah Child (created 1st Baronet Child of Wanstead in 1678)' Governor of the East India Company. Child died in 1699, and was succeeded by his son - also Sir Josiah Child - who leased Wanstead and Stonehall to his half-brother, Richard Child. On Sir Josiah II's death in 1704, Richard Child became 3rd Baronet, having succeeded to his title and estates.
In 1715 Sir Richard Child commissioned the Scottish architect Colen Campbell to design a grand mansion in the then emerging Palladian style, to replace the former house, and to rival contemporary mansions such as Blenheim Palace. The grounds were landscaped and planted with formal avenues of trees by George London, one of the leading garden designers of his day. Child was created 1st Viscount Castlemaine 3 years later in 1718, the house being completed in 1722. Child had married in 1703 Dorothy Glynne, whose mother was of the Tylney family of Tylney Hall in Rotherwick, Hampshire. On the death of Ann Tylney, her cousin, in 1730, Dorothy and her husband Viscount Castlemain inherited the Tylney estates. Castlemain was created 1st Earl Tylney the following year (1731) and in 1734 obtained an Act of Parliament to change the name of his family, including his heirs, from the patronymic to Tylney, probably to meet a condition of his wife's inheritance.

Wanstead House, by Richard Westall (1765-1836). Yale Center for British

On the death of the Earl in 1750 he was succeeded by his 38-year-old son John Tylney, 2nd Earl Tylney, who continued the plantings, but in the then fashionable natural and non-formal style. He was often associated with Horace Mann, who as well never married. The 2nd. Earl had no male issue and his estates passed on his death in 1784 to his elder sister Emma's son Sir James Long, 7th Baronet, who being then in possession of the vast estates of the Longs, the Childs and the Tylneys, assumed the surname Tylney-Long for himself and his descendants, again probably in accordance with a requirement of the inheritance. On the death of the 7th Baronet in 1794 the combined estate passed to his one-year-old infant son Sir James Tylney-Long, 8th Baronet, who died in 1805 aged just 11. The estate then passed to his young sister, eldest of three, Catherine Tylney-Long, who thereby became the richest heiress in England.
In 1812 Catherine took the disastrous step of accepting the marriage proposal from the later-to-be notorious rake, William Wellesley-Pole, nephew of two famous uncles, Richard Wellesley, 2nd Earl of Mornington, eldest brother of his father William, and Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington from 1813, his father's younger brother. The Wellesleys played no part in securing the marriage into their family of this great heiress. Shortly before the wedding Catherine's husband had changed his family surname by Royal Licence to Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley. In 1813 Wellesley started his career of burdening the marriage settlement trust with debt by inviting the landscaper Humphrey Repton to improve the park, some of whose informal planting remains today.
Wellesley was an MP initially from 1812-20 but was principally known for his dissipation and extravagance. On his marriage the estate had been conveyed to a trust from which Catherine would receive £11,000 per annum for life, with the rest to the use of Wellesley for his life. The remainder was to go to the sons produced from the marriage. To secure a debt of £250,000, he managed to mortgage this marriage settlement trust, which owned Wanstead House and contents, to his creditors. In 1822, to escape his creditors, he obtained the office of Usher to George IV (himself experienced in profligacy and evading creditors) which rendered him immune to arrest for debt, and later he fled his creditors abroad. In June 1822 the trustees of the settlement, under a power contained within the trust and having obtained the requisite agreement of the couple, auctioned off the house's contents in an auction lasting 32 days, in order to pay off the incumbrances on the settled estate, thereby protecting the son's future inheritance. In 1825, having found no one to rent Wanstead House, the trustees demolished it under the same powers and applied the proceeds from the sale of the resultant building materials in a similar fashion. Under the terms of Sir James Tylney Long's will, Wanstead House was inalienable from the Park - which could not be sold for 1000 years. This is why the mansion was sold for demolition. The sum raised was only £10,000 whilst it had reputedly cost around £360,000 to build. Catherine, having been abandoned for another woman by her husband in 1823, died in 1825 of an intestinal illness, shortly after the demolition, no doubt a broken woman.

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