Approximately 2 miles / 3 km
(about 1.5 hours).
Click on image to go to an interactive version of this map

Starting at Manor Park and ending at Forest Gate, this linear walk is one of a pair that explore the history of places around the edges of Wanstead Flats. This walk looks at the Manor House, Manor Park Cemetery and some of the notable people buried there, and some of the remnants of life in Victorian and Edwardian Forest Gate.

You can follow the walk directly from your phone. Directions are in black, historical notes are in dark red. There are also links that lead to further information about points of interest.

If you don't want to follow the walk on your phone, you can download a printable PDF version of this walk guide



WAY POINT 1 - Manor Park Station

Turn left out of Manor Park Station and cross Whitta Road.  Proceed along Forest Drive, walking past a small block of flats and Victorian villas. Over the road to the right is Manor Park Flats, the most southerly point of Epping Forest.

Historical Note 
A large temporary mortuary was erected on Manor Park Flats in April 2020 as part of the NHS emergency response to Covid 19. This was dismantled at the end of July 2020 and the area is currently set to become a wild-flower habitat.

Link to more information about Manor Park Flats

Cross over Capel Road, and then immediately turn left onto Wanstead Flats. Proceed to the nearby information board at a junction of paths. 


Take the broad path to the left of the sign that is parallel with Capel Road. Leave the Flats at the first road on the left, Gladding Road.  Continue half way down Gladding Road to glimpse the Manor House behind St Nicholas’ Church on the right hand side of the road.  It is hard to see the Manor House from the street, so see the aerial photograph. You can get a closer look at the Manor House if you turn right into Keller Crescent, a little further down the road on the right.  Once in Keller Crescent, carry straight on and go past some bollards and a small playground, then turn right into Comet Close and walk to the end. You can see the side of the Manor House on the right.

Return a little way and then turn right. Go up this branch of Comet Close until you get to Whitta Road.

You can get yet another view of the Manor House through the gates of Mornington Hall Care Home if you turn right, walk up a few yards, and look right. 

Aerial view of Manor House
(Credit - Google Earth)

Historical Note
The Manor House was built in the Georgian period, and originally surrounded by a park. It is now divided into apartments and is accessed via electric gates from Gladding Road. It is next to (and connected to) St Nicholas’ Chapel, a Catholic Parish Church.  

The manorial rights over the whole manor of West Ham were sold by the Crown in 1805 to James Humphreys and George Johnstone. The current Manor House, which originally had a park around it (from which Manor Park gets its name) was built in 1810 by Humphreys

In the 1830’s, the land was bought by the Eastern Counties Railway to build a railway line, although this didn’t directly affect the house. The railway line through Manor Park and Forest Gate is one of the oldest in the world, opening in 1839, and originally linking Mile End to Romford.

The house was then leased by William Storrs Fry, the son of Elizabeth Fry, the Quaker social and prison reformer. She lived at Plashet House in East Ham (1809 to 1829) and then The Cedars in Forest Gate (both now the sites of public parks). 

In 1868 the Manor House became part of St Nicholas’ Roman Catholic Boys Industrial School, the boys were placed there by magistrates for reasons such as parental neglect or vagrancy. They were trained in practical skills such as tailoring and shoe making so that they would be able to earn a living. 

The school closed in 1921.

Useful further information

Link to more information about the Manor House

Link to more detailed information about the Manor House

Link to more information about the Industrial School

Photograph showing boys at the school being prepared for emigration to Canada. 

Link to more information about St Nicholas’ Chapel

In 1937 aged 32, John Carmel Heenan became the Parish Priest of Manor Park and was based at St Nicholas' Church.  He later went on to become Bishop of Leeds, Archbishop of Liverpool and, in 1965, he became Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, Primate of England and Wales. 

Go back down Whitta Road, past Comet Close on the left.  Where the road starts to bend left, turn right and go through the gates of Manor Park Cemetery. 


The cemetery is open Monday to Friday from 9am – 4.30pm and on weekends and bank holidays from 10am to 4pm.

The 50 acre Manor Park Cemetery had its first interment in 1875. It has remained owned and managed by the same family company since its foundation. 

Having entered the Cemetery gates, continue straight ahead on to Centre Drive.  Just between the first and second tree on the left is a small grass path. Walk through the graves and about 25 metres on the left, next to a low grass bank, is a memorial to Annie Chapman.

Historical Note
Annie Chapman was the second victim of Jack the Ripper. She had been murdered and  mutilated when found in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street, Whitechapel. She was buried here in 1888 in an unmarked grave.  It is thought that the original grave has been reused since. 

Link to further information about Annie Chapman

Return to Centre Drive, turn left, and continue ahead to where the road splits into three. Immediately at the start of the left road, on the left hand side, is a wide grass path (see white arrow on picture below). 

You will pass a tree on your left and then come to a grass path that crosses yours, turn right and walk along it. When you are level with the second tree on your right, turn left and walk down the narrow path between the graves (the red arrow in picture below marks where to walk to).

On the left is the grave of Sarah Dearman (Née Chapman) who was one of the leaders of the famous Matchgirls’ Strike of 1888 (see picture below).

Historical Note

Sarah Chapman was born in 1862 in Mile End. By the time she was nineteen she was working at the Bryant and May match factory in Bow, who employed a lot of women in the match making process. The factory building still exists, converted to flats now, at the junction of the A12 and the rail line between Stratford and Bethnal Green.

During the 1880's there had been a lot of unrest in the Bryant and May factory due to the low wages, long hours, a fines system, and very unhealthy working conditions due to exposure to the chemicals used in the match making process. One of the diseases commonly developed by match workers was phosphorus necrosis of the jaw, commonly called ‘phossy jaw'where workers developed abscesses in their mouths, leading to facial disfigurement and sometimes fatal brain damage. 

On the 5th July 1888, 1400 women and girls marched out of the factory in protest against the working conditions. Sarah Chapman was a member of the strike committee who met with the strikers, organised outside support, and after two weeks met with the Bryant and May directors where an agreement that their demands would be met was arranged.

After the strike, Sarah Chapman was one of the women involved in setting up the Union of Women Match Makers.  She was elected to the Union's committee.

In December 1891, Sarah married Charles Henry Dearman, a cabinet maker. Sarah and Charles had six children.

Sarah Dearman eventually died of lung cancer, in Bethnal Green hospital on 27th November 1945, aged 83.

Link to more information about Sarah Chapman

Return to where the road splits into three,  this time take the middle one towards the Chapel and Crematorium. Go around the building and continue straight ahead. On the right, is the roofed tomb of Thomas John Serle, the licensee of The Grapes pub, Wellclose Square (near Wilton’s Music Hall) in around 1885 .  Six graves after that, set back on the second row is the grave of Mary Orchard, and some of her family.

Historical Note
Mary Orchard, who was a long-serving nanny to Princess Alice (one of Queen Victoria’s daughters) was buried here in 1906.  Her monument was erected by Princess Alice’s children. Victoria (Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine), Elizabeth (Grand Duchess Sergius of Russia), Irene (Princess Henry of Prussia), Ernest Louis (Grand Duke of Hesse) and Alix (Empress of Russia).

Princess Alix, who became Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, was the wife of Nicholas II of Russia. She and her immediate family were all killed while in Bolshevik captivity in 1918, during the Russian Revolution. In 2000 the Russian Orthodox Church canonized her as Saint Alexandra the Passion Bearer.

Princess Victoria was the mother of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and also Princess Alice of Battenberg, the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Link to further information about Mary Orchard

Link to further information about Empress Alexandra Feodorovna

Continue in the same direction down Centre Drive for a few yards.  On the left hand side is the grave and memorial of William Thomas Ecclestone. 

Historical Note
Ecclestone died and was buried here in 1915, aged 53.  He weighed 38 stone and was thought at the time to be the second heaviest man in the world. He was a builder, a publican and a trainer of world-class prize fighters. His memorial is marked with his nickname, “Jolly Jumbo”.

Link to further information about William Thomas Ecclestone

Continue onwards in the same direction, and on the left hand side of Centre Drive, just as it starts to turn the corner to the left, is a gravestone with a cross and an anchor on it.  This is the memorial to Jack Cornwell.


Historical Note
John Travers Cornwell, known as Jack, was buried here in 1916, aged 16.  He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery at the Battle of Jutland, during World War One. The V.C. is the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.  Jack Cornwell was the third youngest person ever to be awarded it.

Admiral David Beatty’s recommendation for the award read: 
‘The instance of devotion to duty by Boy (1st Class) John Travers Cornwell who was mortally wounded early in the action, but nevertheless remained standing alone at a most exposed post, quietly awaiting orders till the end of the action, with the gun's crew dead and wounded around him. He was under 16½ years old. I regret that he has since died, but I recommend his case for special recognition in justice to his memory and as an acknowledgement of the high example set by him.”

Buried this grave too is Jack’s Brother, Arthur Frederick, who was killed in France three months before World War One ended.  Also Jack’s Father, Eli, who died four months after Jack, and his mother, Alice, who died eleven months after World War One ended.

Link to more information about Jack Cornwell

Link to a short video about Jack Cornwell

On the opposite corner to Jack Cornwell’s memorial, just behind the sign for Manor Avenue, is a memorial to John Clinton. 

Historical Note
John Clinton was a ten year old boy, who was drowned on July 16 1894, near to London Bridge. He was trying to save another boy who had fallen into the Thames. John succeeded in saving the other boy, but when climbing out himself, he slipped and fell back into the water. He did not come back to the surface.

Originally buried in Manor Park Cemetery in an unmarked grave, a public appeal raised money for this memorial.

Link to more information about John Clinton

Continue in the same direction that you were walking before, until you leave the cemetery through the Forest Gate entrance.  Start walking up Sebert Road, and then turn first right into Ridley Road. Walk up Ridley Road until you reach Wanstead Flats again. 

Historical Note
This area of Forest Gate has a number of roads named after 16th century Bishops. Nicholas Ridley died in 1555, burned at the stake in the reign of Mary I, for his teachings and for his support of Lady Jane Grey and remembered as a Protestant Martyr. 

Other roads in this area, also named after 16th century Bishops are Godwin Road, Latimer Road, Cranmer Road and Barwick Road.


When you reach the Flats, look to your right.  This area of the Flats, parallel with Capel Road and up to Witta Road, was the site of Prefabs (Prefabricated Houses) just after World War Two.

Historical Note
Prefabs were part of a plan to address the United Kingdom's housing shortage after the Second World War. They were an idea of  prime minister Winston Churchill, and a plan was set out in the 1944 Housing (Temporary Accommodation) Act. Prefabs were needed to address a general housing shortage, as well as to re-house people whose accommodation had been destroyed by bombing.  

Link to a map showing the area that the prefabs were on

Link to more information about Capel Road and the prefabs

Now turn around, and with Capel Road on your left, continue along the edge of the Flats. You will have to move further away from the road to go around the single-storey sports changing rooms, but after that you can continue following the path that is nearer and parallel to Capel Road.

For the last couple of hundred metres before the junction of Capel Road with Woodford Road, you will be walking between an avenue of trees. When you get to the junction you should see an unused drinking fountain. 


Historical Note
This drinking fountain is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Fry, who died in 1896, aged eighty seven. Joseph Fry was the son of the Quaker social and prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry.  It is an appropriate object to dedicate to Fry, because he was a chairman of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association

Link to more information about Elizabeth Fry and her family

The avenue of trees that you have walked along parallel to Capel Road and the avenue that goes along Woodford Road (which turns into Centre Road further up over the Flats) was referred to, in Edwardian times, as the ‘Monkey Parade’. This was a place that young people would dress up, and then parade up and down to meet with the opposite sex.  In addition ‘courting couples’ would also meet there. There was also a bandstand near here to provide musical entertainment.  The pond (called Angell Pond after the council engineer who built it) is still there, but originally was much bigger, and had benches all around it.

Link to more information and photographs of the Monkey Parade and Angell Pond

An excellent history web site that some of the links in this walk lead to, and which gives lots more in-depth historical information about this area is www.e7-now and then.org. Well worth exploring!

Also worth looking at are some old photographs of this area in the early 20th century on the newhamphotos.com web site so that you can compare them to how it looks now. See links below.

Tram Terminus, Forest Gate

Trams Forest Gate and the Flats

Forest Gate Station

Manor Park Station


The walk ends here. If you walk down Woodford Road, away from the Flats, you will first get to Wanstead Park (Overground) Station and then Forest Gate Station (Liverpool Street to Shenfield) Station. 

If you wish to continue immediately on to the second half of this walk, here is a direct link: (WALK 8B - EDGES - FOREST GATE TO LEYTONSTONE).
Otherwise, you can find it again later on the menu.




Send us your feedback!

Link to feedback form

Let us know if you enjoyed the walk and if you have any other feedback we could use to improve it.

Russell & Paul