May 2021


Jumble trail in Wanstead

Screenshot 2019-07-22 12.08.18

Plans for a jumble sale along Cowley Road in Wanstead have been expanded to a jumble trail, incorporating several surrounding roads.

“You may have seen posters about the jumble trail to be held in Cowley Road on Sunday 16 May. Since then, residents from several other streets have asked to join in, including Nightingale Lane, Gordon Road, Addison Road, Chaucer Road, Dangan Road and Spratt Hall Road,” said organiser Jennie O’Beirne.

The event will start from 11.30am and run until 2.30pm.

“We’ve all had a chance to have a good clear out of our old treasures so come and make them your new ones!”

For more information, call 07733 312 782


What’s yours is mine?


When two people buy a property together, it is essential to agree how the property is to be owned, says Gary Gillespie, Senior Conveyancing Executive from local solicitors Wiseman Lee

Imagine you cohabit as an unmarried couple and the two of you buy a weekend cottage together. You each have your own properties and you are financially independent of each other.

Your partner funds the whole of the cash purchase of the cottage and the Land Registry ownership details do not record that it is a tenancy in common to confirm the property is owned by both of you in shares.

At the pre-exchange contract meeting between the two of you and your solicitor, you confirm that it is not an investment purchase and you will be joint tenants. What is not discussed with the solicitor is that the payment of the purchase price is being made solely by your partner.

So, what would be fair when, years later, the two of you separate and you cannot agree how the proceeds of sale are divided? Are you entitled to part of the money or does it all belong to your partner? After all, you have not contributed to the purchase price but you are joint owners and you might think it was intended that your partner had, by implication, gifted half of the purchase money to you.

If you cannot agree how the proceeds of sale are divided, it may be necessary for you to ask the court for an order of sale. These kinds of cases are unique on the facts applying to the couple concerned, but the general principle arising from a 2007 Supreme Court case called Stack v Dowden is that the person who pays receives the net proceeds of sale, or it is split according to your financial contributions.

In cases like these, the question is whether each of you intended that you would receive a beneficial interest in the property. The difficulty is that a beneficial interest is different from a legal interest, and what the court did in the Stack v Dowden case was to examine the party’s intentions by looking at all the circumstances to arrive at the decision.

Therefore, if you intend you should each receive a share of the sale proceeds, please ask your solicitor to draw up a Declaration of Trust, agreeing what each of you will receive when the property is sold. If nothing is mentioned about this you could become embroiled in a time-consuming and expensive court case, which will likely cause a great deal of worry.

It is essential that when two people buy a property together you agree beforehand how the property is to be owned between you and therefore how the proceeds are to be divided on sale.

Wiseman Lee is located at 9–13 Cambridge Park, Wanstead, E11 2PU. For more information, call 020 8215 1000


Endangered in Wanstead


The Wren Wildlife Group, London Wildlife Trust and Wild Wanstead have compiled a list of 10 species at risk of local extinction. In the third of a series of articles looking at each species in turn, Nicola Steele offers tips for saving our sparrows

The RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch 2021 revealed that sparrows remain the UK’s most frequently spotted bird. Yet their numbers have declined dramatically in recent years. Wanstead’s streets must have been alive with their noisy conversations when hedges and front gardens were the norm, and the species was able to flourish on our doorsteps.

House sparrows are social birds and live together in big groups called colonies. They build their nests in the eaves or crevices of buildings, and in ivy, bushes and hedges. Nests are made from a variety of materials like dry grasses and feathers. They lay around three to five eggs and will have at least two clutches a year. The chicks are fed on regurgitated insects.

Sparrows are on the Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern and are a priority species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. Around 60% of house sparrows have been lost since the mid-1970s, and declines have been particularly acute in large cities like London. Research is underway to find out why. Starvation of chicks due to a lack of insects may contribute to the problem. High nitrogen dioxide levels from traffic pollution have also been linked to declines. There are colonies of sparrows peppered around Wanstead. There is anecdotal evidence that some may be increasing from a low base, but in other locations, they continue to be lost as people remove the hedges and other places where they live. If you’re lucky enough to live near a colony, sparrows can seem ubiquitous because of the number and the energetic and noisy nature of the birds. However, there are huge gaps around our local area where you walk for long periods without encountering a single sparrow; this would likely have been unthinkable until recently.

How to help:

  • Provide food and water for sparrows in your garden. They’ll happily visit bird feeders, but if you can, feed them mealworms or waxworms, especially when they’re rearing their chicks in late spring and early summer (April to August).
  • Make your garden a haven for insects – that means one thing, lots of foliage. Large areas of paving for drives and patios, along with plastic grass, are disastrous for city insects and wildlife more generally – dig some of it up or cover it with planters to re-green your plot. Ground-dwelling insects, such as beetles, generally benefit from dense vegetation, including evergreens. Flying insects need flowers across the year – look out for ones with the Plants for Pollinators logo. Find ideas at
  • Other great habitats for insects are long-grass areas, mini wild flower meadows, leaf and log piles and bug hotels. Never use slug pellets or pesticides.
  • Plant hedges and shrubs to provide shelter and foraging habitats for sparrows, such as hawthorn or viburnum.
  • Have a bird bath – sparrows love a communal splash-about when it’s warm.
  • Install a sparrow nest box terrace.
  • It’s really important to protect colonies, as house sparrows can take a long time to return to areas from where they’ve disappeared. If you’re lucky enough to have sparrows living nearby, work with your neighbours to ensure everyone understands how important it is not to damage their nest sites.

For more information about the 10 species under threat of extinction in Wanstead, visit


Independence day


Independence is something all children need to learn, and the best way to help them develop this vital skill is to encourage exploration and other healthy risk-taking, says Shona O’Neill of Little Bear’s Nursery

Independence is a key component of your child’s early development and essential for developing other key life skills, such as social skills, self-reliance and perseverance, which, in turn, enhances self-esteem and feelings of belonging. So, how can parents help support their child’s independence?

Offering informed choices
The secret to offering informed choices is to choose the right battle. Start with allowing your child to choose what to wear. Assist the choice by stating what the options are and why they would be a good choice, such as wellies in wet weather as they are waterproof.

Providing flexibility within structure
Predictability and consistency help children feel safe; however, rigidity can be counterproductive. Providing opportunities for your child to choose activities where practicable builds up a spirit of co-operation and creates an atmosphere that values other views and opinions.

Encourage healthy risk
Children’s safety is paramount; however, we must balance the desire to keep our children safe without squashing their desire to develop essential skills, like using scissors or other tools. There is a difference between a ‘hazard’ and a ‘risk’. A hazard is something unpredictable and unmanageable that can and likely will hurt your child, such as traffic or poisonous substances. A healthy risk is something that might make you cringe a little but supports your child’s growth and development. Examples might include riding bikes or scooters after you’ve talked with your child about safety rules and highlighted the potential dangers. In a healthy risk, you’ve done your part to ensure your child’s safety and your child knows how to moderate potential dangers.

Embrace mistakes
When children are little, it’s appropriate to offer plenty of support; however, we must allow children to make mistakes because they learn the most from those trial-and-error moments. We should be mindful not to squash our children’s desire to explore and learn without the fear of scrutiny.

Set up an environment for success
How your home is organised can make a big difference to your child’s independence. Organise your home so your child knows where everything goes. For instance, shoes and coats go in the cloakroom and toys go in marked bins in the playroom or bedroom. In the kitchen, keep plastic dishware at child height and teach your child how to get a simple snack or cup of water.

Little Bear’s Nursery is located at 14 Seagry Road, Wanstead, E11 2NG. A free registration offer is available until 15 May. For more information, call 020 8530 7541 or visit


Local psychotherapist offers post-pandemic self-care tips for parents


A local child psychotherapist will be offering her top five self-care tips for parents in a post-pandemic world during a free virtual event on 10 May from 12 noon.

“I will explain why self-care is not self-indulgence, and you will walk away with lots of strategies to create your own self-care plan,” said Usha Chudasama. The presentation is part of Wellness Festival 2021, which has been organised by Wanstead resident Elsa Arnold and features a range of events to ‘help residents through the final straight of lockdown’.



Amateur gardening competition returns in support of the NHS


Redbridge in Bloom – the borough’s annual amateur gardening competition – returns this year with a rainbow theme.

“Whatever your level of gardening expertise, help us spread a message of love in support of the NHS by creating your very own rainbow garden. Fill your front gardens with flowers bursting with all the colours of the rainbow,” said a spokesperson for Vision RCL, which organises the competition. The closing date for entries is 5 July, with judging to take place between 12 and 16 July.



Art, Past & Park

ba-obj-14682-0001-pub-print-lgWanstead House by Richard Westall (1765–1836). Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Historian and author Dr Hannah Armstrong talks about her earliest memories of Wanstead Park and her personal journey to writing Wanstead House: East London’s Lost Palace

My mum tells me that she took me to Wanstead Park just days after I was born. We lived in Langley Drive, just a stone’s throw away; in fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t going to the park as a child! I have a very vivid memory of looking up at the Grotto and my mum telling me about a house. I remember thinking the Grotto was the house and then later feeling surprised at how large it actually was. My dad’s job took us overseas and I left Wanstead at eight years old, so it was not until about 15 years later that I was reunited with this interest.

I have always loved art and design, so it seemed only natural to me to apply to art school. I studied at Camberwell, specialising in textile design, specifically embroidery and screen printing. In my second year, I wrote a dissertation about William Morris and his ideology of art for all. That really set something alight for me. From that point, it became clear I wanted to turn my attention to the history of design and so applied for the MLitt in Decorative Arts and Design History at Glasgow University. That year changed everything for me.

During my Masters, I developed an interest in 18th-century interiors and domesticity, specifically, how they were represented in conversation pieces (informal group portraits). I would occasionally come across references to Wanstead, and I was amazed and excited to learn that such a significant house once stood in the park I used to visit as a child. Realising it was relatively understudied in academia, I applied for funding and was delighted to be accepted to study for my PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London. I was incredibly fortunate to be supervised by Kate Retford, a wonderful historian who has written much on Georgian conversation pieces and the country house.

The part of my PhD I most enjoyed were my archive days at the Essex Record Office and the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Centre. It is an incredible experience to hold a letter in your hands written by someone you have spent so much time thinking and writing about. I find those moments very moving, as if we are connected in time through one artefact. Other highlights included having access to visit a house in Hills Road, Cambridge where I could finally encounter real fragments of building fabric from Wanstead House.

If I could go back in time, I would love to meet Richard Child, 1st Earl Tylney, and watch Wanstead House being constructed and see its interior flourish. I would be really interested to see the Elizabethan manor that stood on the site prior to the building of Colen Campbell’s classical mansion. And I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall when Richard and Campbell met!

I have really enjoyed writing about the furnishing of Wanstead House, transporting myself into Wanstead House and imagining how it must have felt to experience the house. It was great fun piecing together its interior through reading visitor accounts, studying floor plans and analysing famous portraits by Hogarth and Nollekens.

My plans for the future include giving some talks later in the year at St Mary’s Church, Wanstead, the Copped Hall Trust and at Wanstead Fringe. I am also excited about the new developments at Wanstead Park, in particular, the restoration of the Grotto boathouse structure. I hope my book will help to generate interest and support for the park’s long-term preservation.

This article was based on an interview with Nigel Franceschi of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands, which commissioned the book.

Wanstead House: East London’s Lost Palace will be published in March 2022. Pre-orders receive 40% off the £45 retail price. For more information, visit


Deep Roots


Wanstead resident Jean Medcalf published her first poetry book last year. To Everything There is a Season is a collection of lyrical, spiritual poems about nature. In the seventh of a series of articles, Jean – who celebrates her 90th birthday this month – shares a photo of herself in Wanstead Park in the 1950s

The ‘merry month of May’ is my birth month, and this year is a special one as I will celebrate my 90th birthday. May is also one of my favourite times of the year, when nature has sprung into life, the weather is warm, the garden is full of flowers, and summer is on its way. 

May is also my favourite time to visit Wanstead Park. I have loved going there since I was a little girl, when my mother used to take me in the summer and we would meet my Aunt May and cousin Audrey for a picnic of sandwiches and rock cakes. Audrey and I used to climb up a little hill we called the ‘mountain’. This was part of the landscaping of the original grounds of Wanstead House when it was a stately home. I also remember, of course, the Grotto, which is the ruins of the old boathouse and the lovely old Chalet tea house, which sadly burned down.

Later, as a teenager, Wanstead Park was the place where we girls would go for a romantic evening walk with our boyfriends. However, we had to be careful not to stay out too late – the park keeper locked the gates in the evening and we would then have to climb over to get out!

When I had children of my own we would often go there in the summer for a picnic with our wicker picnic basket, a big thermos of tea, sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs, and later, we took our little granddaughter. The poem presented here is about the first time she came to Wanstead Park with us and hugged her first tree.

Wanstead Park in May is bursting with fresh new life. Everywhere are the ‘darling buds of May’, the lacy white froth of cow parsley, the delicate bell-like flowers of wood anemones, furry grey catkins, ferns unfurling, brimstone yellow flag irises by the fringe of the lake. The birds are singing their hearts out and “the green woods laugh with the voice of joy.”

But above all, the park is at its loveliest in May when the bluebells are flowering. There is something almost holy about the bluebell woods, which reminds me of the feeling one has when entering a cathedral. The peace and stillness, the tall tree trunks soaring up to the heavens like stone columns, the soft shafts of light filtering through the leaf canopy, and the bluebells in azure drifts of hazy smoke-blue, giving up their fragrance to the air like incense. And, as in a place of worship, I sit quietly, drinking in all the beauty around me, and feel very close to God, who has created it.

Take and Give
by Jean Medcalf

Last Sunday afternoon we took a walk
My family and I
Plus, for the first time, Victoria.

We fed the ducks, then walked into the woods.
I found a chestnut tree – as is my wont
I put my arms around it for loving help.
It took from me my fears and uncertainties
And gave to me tranquillity and love.

I said goodbye and turned to walk away
And as I did I saw my actions copied.
Like a small bright butterfly clinging to the trunk,
Face pressed to the bark, a small girl
Laughed in imitation of her grandmother.

She took nothing from the tree
But gave to it her sparkling love of life
Her joy and champagne laughter.

She was so small as to be near the roots.
Her brightness will be stored
In readiness for future visitors
Seeking hope, and calm, and love.

Jean’s book To Everything There is a Season is available in paperback (£4.75). Visit


Opening up again


Teresa Farnham is a local area organiser for the National Garden Scheme, which encourages people to open their gardens to the public for charity. Here’s a taster of the nearby gardens you can view this summer

It’s that time of year when gardens start to open to support the National Garden Scheme (NGS). Due to Covid restrictions in 2020, only a handful of gardens could open. However, London gardeners still managed to raise nearly £28,000, providing critical support to the nursing and health charities the NGS supports.

Many people have visited local NGS gardens in the past. This year please, please, please continue to do so! The garden owners work extremely hard to open their spaces for viewing, some with plants for sale and most with tea and cakes available. All money collected goes directly to the NGS. The gardens are generally open without booking, but for some, pre-booking is essential via the NGS website (it’s best to check online for confirmation that gardens are open as well).

Many London gardens are small, and garden owners have to work hard for interest that the larger country gardens can provide with less effort. My own garden at 17 Greenstone Mews in Wanstead (open on 11 July from 12.30pm to 4pm) is a good example, measuring just 20 feet by 17 feet. It features a mature strawberry tree and a buried bath used as a fishpond, surrounded by climbers clothing fences underplanted with herbs, vegetables, shrubs and perennials grown from cuttings.

A new garden opening this year is at 110 Perth Road, Ilford (open on 31 July from 1pm to 5pm). This is a long, thin garden that combines plants from the tropics, the Mediterranean and Japan, as well as the UK. Another larger new garden is at 26 College Gardens, Chingford (open on 6 June from 2pm to 5pm). It is approximately two-thirds of an acre with a sun terrace leading to established borders and a plethora of climbing roses.

There will also be four different gardens situated on the Aldersbrook Estate (1 Clavering Road, 21 Park Road, 4 Empress Avenue and 47 St Margaret’s Road, all open on 4 July from 12 noon to 5pm). Planting includes a colour-themed garden, a garden designed in circles and curves, a kitchen garden and chicken coop (there may be fresh eggs for sale), and a large garden with a medley of planting and different areas.

In South Woodford, you will find a pretty Victorian terraced house with a dog-friendly, Italian patio-style garden at 25 Mulberry Way (open on 27 June from 1pm to 5pm), and a delightful wildlife-friendly garden on two levels at the rear of 83 Cowslip Road (open on 11 July from 2pm to 5pm).

A huge thank you to all the incredible garden owners and their helpers who welcome you, the garden visitors, to raise such fantastic funds for charity. If you would like to open your own garden in 2022, do get in touch.

For a full list of gardens, entry costs and opening times, visit

For more information on taking part in 2022, email