Home Field

_DSF9420©Geoff Wilkinson

Following last month’s article about the immediate past and possible future of Wanstead’s Evergreen Field, Dr Colin Runeckles digs into the archives to find out more about the history of the houses which once stood there. Photo by Geoff Wilkinson

The tithe apportionment of 1841 for Wanstead shows there to be a house on this site owned and occupied by Joseph Knight. At the time, this was known as Wanstead Cottage with nearly two acres of land, which stretched up to what is now Wanstead Place, where Knight also owned two properties. Knight died in September of the same year and the house was sold at auction in April 1842, where it was said to have “good out-buildings, stabling, coach-house, productive garden, pleasure ground, and two paddocks, bounded by a new brick wall and natural fences.”

George Duley is listed in the 1851 Post Office Directory but it is not until his death in 1855 that it is said he was of Evergreen Lodge. It is not clear whether the house was simply renamed or rebuilt to turn Wanstead Cottage into Evergreen Lodge. Mr JT Winney took over the house for a time but the house came up for sale again in 1870, and then again in 1873. It is maybe here that its most significant owner, John Cockett, enters the picture. The earliest reference I can find for him living at the Lodge is having been named as an executor in an article from June 1876. About this time, the Cocketts were joined in the house by their nephew, William Patrick Tulloch Forbes. Forbes would later marry and live in Sylvan Road where he and his wife Edith had their only child, Douglas Tulloch Forbes, later to serve as a lieutenant during World War One when he was fatally wounded in early 1916.

John Cockett’s name was to come up in Ilford circles when, at the sale of the Clements Estate in August 1879, the following week’s Chelmsford Chronicle noted that a Mr JE Cockett, Wanstead, bought three lots, numbered 13–15, totalling just under three acres. It would appear the land was not to remain in Cockett’s possession for very long since a Rate Book of 1882 listed houses in Queen’s Road, laid out on lots 13–15, were owned by Ilford builder George Barnes.

In 1882, Cockett applied to the Local Board to build four houses at the north end of the estate. These were known as St Augustin, Tryfan, Overton House and Dowlais House, and later 16–22 High Street. The Cocketts were to reside at Evergreen Lodge until the opening years of the 20th century. John Cockett was to die in October 1902 and the notice in St James’s Gazette said he was very well known in the railway world, having been manager of the railway advertising department for WH Smith & Sons. His widow, Sarah, moved to Pinner shortly afterwards and the house went to the Warren family, firstly to Joseph who died shortly afterwards in June 1904, then to his widow, and then to his son, Frederick. However, one act of John Cockett’s executors is relevant to our understanding of how the Evergreen Field came to be as it is today. The Redbridge Heritage Centre holds a plan for the building of two houses just south of the four built in 1882. These were known as Royston and Summerfield, later 24–26 High Street. 

The house came up for auction again in June 1921 at Harrod’s in Brompton Road, and for this, the Essex Record Office holds the auction catalogue, which contains a full description of the house. It was three-storeyed with a basement, had a large porch, three good-sized rooms and a billiard room (installed in 1903) on the ground floor as well as kitchen, scullery and store cupboards. On the first floor, there were six bedrooms and a bathroom, and on the upper storey, there was a large servants’ bedroom, store room, three box rooms and a photographic darkroom. In size, it would appear to be similar to the Manor House across the road.

Now, you might have noticed in the previous article there was mention of two houses, whereas I have only so far written about one. Two years after the sale in 1921, the old stable was converted into a house. In the 1924 Kelly’s Directory, it was shown as Hailey’s Cottage, but by 1927 it had been numbered as 28, Evergreen Lodge itself as number 30.

By 1933, the Lodge was occupied by a physician and surgeon, Eric Long, who had previously carried out his practice in a large house across the road. As the previous article says, the two houses were bombed, but the 1949 building survey carried out by Wanstead and Woodford Council states they both had “substantial war damage repairs” and were now occupied again. The 1952 and 1955 Kelly’s Directories show both houses occupied, number 30 by another physician and surgeon, Arthur Boney.

The last reference I could find to the house was in a February 1967 edition of the Torbay Express and South Devon Echo, which reported that Ann McGeever of Evergreen Lodge, E11, had been left £100 under the terms of a will. If the Lodge and the converted stable were demolished in 1967, we’re left wondering what circumstances led to that action.

To view the Evergreen Field development proposals, visit wnstd.com/field

Author: Editor