The Historical Background to the Counties Estate

 

The Grove Estate

Until 1889 the Counties Estate was a timbered farmland, part of a sixty acre site which belonged to the Grove Estate. There is some uncertainty about all of the boundaries but the Grove Estate was on the east side of the High Street, fanning out from Grosvenor Road almost to the A12, with Buckingham Road being its deepest boundary. Leicester Road was a bridle path stretching from the A12 to Nightingale Green.

(Wanstead) Grove House

1690
Wanstead Grove was built by Sir Francis Dashwood, the father of Baron Despencer of Hell Fire Club fame. The site was the land at the top of the Avenue and Grove Park. Prior to this, the land had been part of an ancient demesne, owner by Sir Orlando Bridgman. His house, known simply as the manor house, had occupied the site on which Wanstead Grove was built. (Map No.1).

Map No.1 - Unknown origin and date. Major buildings off Wanstea High Street

Map No.1 - Unknown origin and date, Major buildings off Wanstead High Street

Wanstead Grove (Sketch No.1) was a substantial property of outstanding interest and beauty, being a large estate with extensive pleasure gardens, which were open to the public. A broad lake known as "the canal" stretched from almost the A12 to Grosvenor Road. At the A12 end of the lake a temple folly (Sketch No.2) was built which still stands at the end of the garden to No.14 The Avenue. Also a red brick gazebo, known as "the card room" still exists in the garden of No.20 The Avenue. Both buildings are open to the public once a year on Open House Day which is next being held on 16th and 17th September 2006. More information regarding Open House Day can be found at the following website:- www.londonopenhouse.org.

 

Sketch No.1 - The original Wanstead Grove 1690. Sketch No.2 - The lake and temple folly.
Sketch No.1 - The original Wanstead Grove 1690 Sketch No.2 - The lake and temple folly.

 

1759
Humphrey Bowles, head of a wealthy and influential family, bought the Grove Estate and house for 10,000 and added to its lands from the neighbouring houses and village land. The household had nine indoor servants and a large staff of gardeners and farm workers. The lake was stocked with trench and carp, which provided food for the family.

1784
Humphrey Bowles died and his eldest son George inherited the estate. He built up a remarkable collection of paintings and miniatures, commissioning many of them himself. Entertainment was lavish, with his sister Lady Northwick acting as hostess in the London season.

1817
George Bowles was succeeded by his niece, the Hon. Ann Rushout. As the house had fallen into disrepair, she decided to rebuild it c1822 (Sketch No.3) and lived in one of the smaller houses on the estate while this was done. She decided to "modernise" and sold all the old furniture, possibly including Chippendale. Her new house was the leading house in Wanstead in it's day, having a reputation for luxury and comfort. She carried on the tradition of lavish entertainment and was a skilful watercolour and china painter.

Sketch No.3 - The rebuilt Wanstead Grove c1822.

Sketch No.3 - The rebuilt Wanstead Grove c1822

1849
When Humphrey Bowles II inherited Wanstead Grove, he passed it on to his son Charles. Unfortunately Charles could not afford the upkeep of the house and so he sold it, along with all its treasures, to Sir Fowell Buxton, for 9,250.

1885
The Grove Estate was put up for auction and bought by a house builder. In 1889 the house was demolished after a sale of four days, while the lake was filled in.. (Picture No.1).

Picture No.1 - The Avenue and Grove Park prior to development c1880.

Picture No.1 - The Avenue and Grove Park prior to development c1880

1889
Houses were built on part of the Grove Estate - on the Avenue and Grove Park (Map No.2).

Map No.2 - Ordance Survey Map of 1896 Showing Grove Estate

Map No.2 - Ordnance Survey Map of 1896 Showing Grove Estate

early 1900s
Houses were built on the remaining part of the Grove Estate - on Leicester Road, Gloucester Road, Hereford Road, Warwick Road, Rutland Road and Buckingham Road - hence the area being known as "The Counties Estate". (Map No.3).

Map No.3 - The Counties Estate - Ordnance Survey 1964

Map No.3 - The Counties Estate - Ordnance Survey 1964

c1957
The early 17th century timber framed house, Grove Cottage, which stood at the corner of Nutter Lane and Leicester Road, was demolished. (Sketch No.4 and Picture No.2).

Sketch No.4 - Grove Cottage, Early 17th Century.
Sketch No.4 - Grove Cottage, Early 17th Century.

 

Picture No.2 - Grove Cottage, Early 17th Century.
Picture No.2 - Grove Cottage, Early 17th Century.
   
   

Wanstead Grove was an important property but unfortunately it was overshadowed by the domination of Wanstead House. As it was such a substantial estate, it is surprising that so little trace is left of it today. Further information on the Wanstead Grove Estate can be found at its website:- www.rodwell.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/wansteadgrove.htm.
 

The CRA would like to acknowledge the following parties/sources:-

Helen Zammett, Author of this page
Winifred Eastment, Wanstead Through the Ages
J. Elsden Tuffs, The Story of Wanstead and Woodford
Wanstead and Woodford, An extract from the Victorian History of the County of Essex, Volume VI

The above works and many others are available on loan from Wanstead Library if you ask at the enquiry desk.
 

CRA Ref history00001, All rights reserved, E&OE.