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A Brief History of Aldersbrook

In the 14th century, the land that Aldersbrook is now built on was part the grounds of Naget Hall (later written as Naked Hall), part of the manor of Wanstead. In around 1512, the area was made into a separate manor, and called Aldersbrook, which derived its name from the nearby Alders Brook.

Aldersbrook was sold to Henry VIII in 1532 by Sir Giles Heron, the keeper of the manor of Wanstead, which was already owned by the crown.

Edward VI (Henry VIII's son) granted Lordship of Wanstead and Aldersbrook Manors to Sir Richard Rich.

The manor of Aldersbrook was sold off in the reign of Elizabeth I. In the years that followed, it was owned by, among others, Robert Dudley the Earl of Leicester, who also owned the Manor of Wanstead.

In 1693, Aldersbrook Manor was purchased by Sir John Lethieullier. Sir John was a British merchant, descended from Huguenots, originating in the Spanish Netherlands (Now the modern states of Belgium and Luxembourg, plus surrounding areas)The Aldersbrook Manor House stayed in the Lethieullier family until 1760. The last of the family to live there was Smart Lethieullier, whose unusual first name was taken from the surname of his maternal grandmother. He studied and collected  antiquities and fossils, and was a fellow of the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries. 

Smart Lethieullier died childless in 1760, and so Aldersbrook Manor and farm was inherited by a relation, Sir Edward Hulse.  Sir Edward disposed of most of the lands relating to Aldersbrook Manor, selling some of the land to Sir James Tylney-Long, the then owner of Wanstead House. This reunited Aldersbrook with Wanstead Manor. The Aldersbrook Manor house was demolished, but the farm which operated on the land continued.


In 1853, The City of London Corporation acquired much of the Aldersbrook Manor Farm land which was purchased from 
William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley, the 5th Earl of Mornington. The land was used to build the City of London Cemetery

The farmhouse on the Aldersbrook Manor Farm land was demolished when the new cemetery was being laid out, but a replacement was built on Aldersbrook Road surrounded by a wall. This walled area now contains housing (Heatherwood Close) and a petrol station.

Around this time, parts of Wanstead Flats and Epping Forest were starting to become enclosed by various land owners, causing demonstrations and unrest. Because the City of London now owned the cemetery land, which is adjacent to Wanstead Flats, it made the City ‘forest commoners’. This enabled them to take the landowners to court, claiming that the enclosures impinged on their ancient grazing rights. The City won a case in 1874, leading to the Epping Forest Act of 1878, which preserved Epping Forest, including Wanstead Flats, as a public amenity.  The City of London were made conservators of the Forest and Flats.


Three weeks before his death in 1863, the 5th Earl of Mornington changed his will. In this will he left Draycott, an estate in Wiltshire, to his father's cousin, Henry Wellesley, 1st Earl Cowley. The rest of his landed property (including Wanstead and Aldersbrook) was left in trust, but with Cowley having a life interest in it (which means he didn't own it, but was entitled to an income from it).

In the early 1880's there was a court case involving the City of London, the 1st Earl Cowley and the trustees of the Wanstead Estate (including parts of Aldersbrook). A settlement was arrived at, which is described below in the map and it's key. 

Base image © OpenStreetMap contributors. Many thanks to Richard Arnopp for the above image, plus his help with explaining the transition of ownership of the Aldersbrook area. 

Key to the above map

  • The green area of the map is the portion of old Wanstead Park that was acquired by the City of London. The City used this land to create the public Wanstead Park which exists today. 
  • The orange area of the map was ceded to the 1st Earl Cowley. The City got Wanstead Park and Cowley got this area and £8000.
  • The red area of the map is land that was retained by 1st Earl Cowley, with a view to developing it. Put together with the Orange area (see above), the southern part was eventually sold off to build the Aldersbrook Housing Estate. The northern part was initially leased, and finally purchased by Wanstead Golf course and Wanstead Cricket Club.

Manor Park Station was opened in 1873 by the Great Eastern Railway Company. This generated a boom in housebuilding in the area surrounding the station in the late 1800’s

The Aldersbrook Housing Estate, being further from the station, took a little longer to be developed. The housing estate was built between 1900 to 1910, the last year of Queen Victoria’s reign and the whole of Edward VII’s reign. The houses on Aldersbrook show the transition in house style which reflect this period, where highly decorated Victorian house designs developed into the simpler Edwardian designs, and casement windows were used instead of sashes. 

The temperance movement was popular in Victorian times, and continued into Edward VII’s reign. This might be the reason that a restrictive covenant was attached to the estate that prevented the building of Public Houses within it. 

Surrounded by green areas, including Wanstead Flats, Wanstead Park and the City of London Cemetery, Aldersbrook houses were aimed at the growing middle classes moving from the inner suburbs. Originally, the larger houses on roads like Northumberland Avenue cost around £500 and the smaller houses on side roads cost around £300.

Further useful links

A chronicle of events surrounding Wanstead Park on the wansteadpark.org.uk site