Aldersbrook Manor Estate, at the time of Smart Lethieullier (died 1760), showing its relationship to the Wanstead Estate and Wanstead Flats


Aldersbrook Estate at the time of Smart LethullierFrom Rocque's "Environs of London" dated about 1745.

 Note the separation between Smart Lethieullier's formal estate and the Wanstead Estate to the north. It appears that there is a considerable area of rough land - possibly grazing land - across which runs a track which enters the Parklands at about the same point as the present Park entrance in Northumberland Road opposite Wanstead Park Avenue.

Just to the south of the present day Dell - then the Square Pond - an avenue of trees runs southwards. The remains of an avenue is still present today in the form of some lime trees, although they are not shown on a later plan. (D'Oyley, 1816 - see here)

The junction of the present day Aldersbrook Road and Forest Drive are clearly discernable, and Wanstead Flats - shown here by the word "Forest" as part of Lower Forest as it was once known - lie to the south and west.

A perilous journey by the Alders Brook.

A cutting - unfortunately from an unknown source but which may have been included in George Caunt's 1983 book "Essex yesterdays: Holidays into history"- telling of a horseman's experience whilst riding from Manor Park to Ilford in 1861.

That area of land near to the present-day railway and between the Alders Brook and the boundary fence of the City of London Cemetery is still known to some as "The Butts". Butts were of course archery ranges, and it is known that prior to 1902 (Hansard 4 March 1902), just across the Alders Brook on what is now part of Ilford Golf Course, there was a rifle range of some 80 acres - in this case being used by the Ilford Battalion of Rifle Volunteers...

The "countryman" that the horseman met is interesting. He thought " 'it wor dangeroose' for whilst walking a day or two 'agoo' not thinking, he 'nearly got pitched into by one of them there bullets' ". Echoes of an Essex accent there, I feel - and in Ilford, too!


Part of 1876 O.S. map showing bridle path across the River Roding


The map above is taken from the OS of 1876-82, and shows a path which enters the cemetery at the gates (bottom left), passes by the "Dissenter's" Chapel to exit the (then) cemetery boundary and traverse slightly north of east until a ford across the Roding is met. This would appear to have been the bridle-path referred to. The actual Cran Brook ("the fields of J. Davis of Cranbrook") can also be seen, entering the Roding at middle-right. The Cran Brook is a tributary of the Roding which flows through and from Cranbrook Park - now more often called Valentine's Park - in Ilford. The source of this stream is in the Aldborough area, (Fairlop Plain) from which Seven Kings Water also arises.

Another aspect of what is shown on the map - right by the ford - is the reference to "Ordinary Tidal flow to this point". It is much the same on a modern map, so it is interesting to observe -- as I have done on just a couple of occasions - from considerably further north, ie in what is now the Exchange Land,  the apparent flow northwards of the river, when the moon, time and tide make the flow less than ordinary.


The private footbridge spanning the Roding near the site of the ford. (February 2012)


In the publication "The Club that refused to die" published by the Ilford Golf Club Ltd., it is stated that concern had been expressed during the proposals by Mr. Alfred Toley to open a golf club about the public right of way across the course. The lease from the property company (Messrs. Bezley Brothers) that had taken over when the War Office withdrew its range license in 1900 stated that no right of way existed, but Mr. Toley stated that if a public right of way was proved, then he would fence it in.

The flood plain - which was known as the Roding Valley - was in 1887 occupied by the Morris Tube Company, who made rifle boxes and operated the range on the site. Apparently there had in fact been a public footpath, which ran through the rifle butts as the story seems to confirm. When it became obvious that this was dangerous the War Office withdrew the range license. As there was no longer firing in the area, it might have seemed that the right of way could continue, but perhaps golf-balls were construed as more dangerous than rifle bullets! Notices were erected at the new entrance to the golf club stating "Members only" and this caused some controversy as the following letter to the editor of The Recorder shows:

Sir, Mr.Tasker deserves the thanks of the people of Ilford for directing public attention to the preservation of Ilford‟s footpaths and it is to be hoped that something practical will come of his resolution with regard to the linking up of the footpath across the golf links and that at the side of the City of London Cemetery. It seems a most astonishing fact that there should be no direct means of communication between the people living on the Cranbrook and Wanstead Park Estates, other than through Wanstead Park. It is an exceedingly inconvenient and troublesome matter for anyone who wishes to cross from the Flats to Cranbrook (or vice versa) after the closing of the Park. Anyone who may perhaps have had occasion to visit the district on the other side of the Roding, or who may happen to be in the neighbourhood of Wanstead Flats when the bell has ceased ringing, and the Park has been closed for the night, must, in order to reach Ilford, return either by means of the High Road or via Blakehall Road and Redbridge Lane. In both cases, it is necessary to describe about three-fourths of the circumference of a circle. If the old bridle path were properly made up, a bridge constructed and the path linked up with that on the other side, it would be a great boon and convenience to very many ratepayers...The path itself exists, and the right of way exists, but the latter is not exercised because the former leads to nowhere. G.H.W.

This brings to light another somewhat forgotten fact : the byelaws of Wanstead Park state that there is no public access to the Park after a dusk bell has sounded! The byelaw still exists, as does the bell which can still be seen hanging from the rear of the Temple. Luckily, nowadays there is a route which circumvents both the lost bridlle path and the Park's byelaws: this is via Empress Avenue, past Aldersbrook Riding School, into Aldersbrook Exchange Lands - most of which is now part of Epping Forest but outside Wanstead Park's byelaws - and across the concrete bridge to the Ilford side to eventually emerge on Wanstead Park Road.

 Paul Ferris


Aldersbrook Manor and Farm. Plan showing excavations and its situation within the present City of London Cemetery

Plan of Aldersbrook ManorPlan of Aldersbrook Manor showing excavations



Historic Map of the Aldersbrook Estate


Historic Map of AldersbrookHistoric Map of Aldersbrook - this section is taken from the D'Oyley map published in 1816



Plants of the Aldersbrook estate, the Alders Brook and the Butts

A list of the plants which have been found in the Alders Brook area is given below. The figures and numerals in the location column are reference to a grid scheme which is used by the Wren Group for recording purposes. As well as plants found adjacent to the brook itself (mainly in the area known as the Butts), included here are plants found by the bridle path which accompanies the cemetery's boundary for much of its length. Photos of some of the species are available - clicking on the names highlighted in blue will take you there. Amongst those photos are others from the Aldersbrook estate area, as well.

For a Map showing the recording grid - click here

No. Scientific Name Common Name Location
11 Equisetum arvense Common Horsetail By Alders Brook, Q2 Q3
22 Phyllitus scolopendrium Hart's-tongue On the brickwork above the railway tunnel
36 Azolla filiculoides Water Fern P3 in Alders Brook summer 1991, and seen in February 2008
51 Taxus baccata Yew O4, a single sapling noted 30/08/08
88 Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup Near Alders Brook, Q2
90 Ranunculus sceleratus Celery-leaved Buttercup Near Alders Brook, P/Q3 Q2
91 Ranunculus ficaria Lesser Celandine Common by Alders Brook and Roding particularly Ilford bank P3/4 Q2/3
103 Papaver rhoeas Common Poppy Q2 in disturbed ground, 25/05/11
116 Humulus lupulus Hop O2 Bridle path on fence by railway near tunnel; O5 on bridle path near sewage works fence 11/08/79; P5 just S. of Sewage Works fence 02/07/96
117 Urtica dioica Nettle Q2
122 Quercus cerris Turkey Oak P/Q1/2, P3 30/08/08
122 Quercus ilex Holm Oak O4 30/08/08
123 Quercus robur English Oak O4
124 Betula pendula Silver Birch O4
126 Alnus glutinosa Alder P3 Q3
127 Corylus avellana Hazel P3 on 30/08/08
144 Atriplex patula Common Orache L5 by house fence in alley leading to bridle path.
162 Stellaria media Common Chickweed P3
173 Spergularia rubra Sand-spurrey O4 footpath on bank of Roding
176 Silene latifolia White Campion O4
177 Saponaria officinalis Soapwort O4 double-flowered form near Alders Brook/Roding 15/08/76
183 Polygonum amphibium Amphibious Bistort Q2 by Alders Brook 11/08/79
183 Polygonum persicaria Redshank Near Alders Brook, Q2
184 Polygonum hydropiper Water-Pepper Near Alders Brook,Q2
195 Rumex obtusifolius Broad-Leaved Dock Near Alders Brook,Q2
226 Populus x canescens Grey Poplar P3
234 Salix fragilis Crack Willow Q3
237 Salix [caprea caprea] Great Sallow Q3
250 Alliaria petiolata Garlic Mustard Q2
250 Sisymbrium officinale Hedge Mustard Q2
252 Erysimum cheiranthoides Treacle Mustard P3
257 Rorippa amphibia Great Yellow-cress Q2
258 Armoracia rusticana Horse Radish Q2
262 Lunularia rediviva Perennial Honesty P3, by cemetery railings, perhaps growing through, May 2010
267 Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd's Purse Q2
275 Brassica oleracea Cabbage North boundary path
281 Reseda luteola Weld By Alders Brook 28/07/77
335 Rubus fruticosus agg. Bramble Near Alders Brook, Q2
340 Rubus caesius Dewberry O5 near Sewage works gate 12/7/92-12/08/96; P/Q/2/3, plentiful by Alders Brook south of Bridle Path Allotments 12/08/96-2011
344 Potentilla reptans Creeping Cinquefoil Q2 P3
361 Rosa canina Dog Rose P3 by allotments
365 Prunus spinosa Blackthorn P3
365 Prunus avium Wild Cherry O5 bridle path; Q3
367 Prunus laurocerasus Cherry Laurel O4, 02/01/2009
369 Pyrus sp. Pear Q2, 26/05/2011
370 Sorbus aucuparia Rowan  
395 Pyracantha coccinea Firethorn P/Q2 bridle path through railway fence 02/01/2009
397 Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn Q2
402 Galega officinalis Goat's-rue Q3
406 Lotus corniculatus Birdsfoot-trefoil P3
412 Vicia hirsuta Hairy Tare P3
412 Vicia sativa Common Vetch Q2
414 Lathyrus pratensis Meadow Vetchling P3 Q3
420 Medicago lupulina Black Medick  
421 Medicago sativa Lucerne Q3
425 Trifolium repens White Clover Q2 Q3
427 Trifolium pratense Hop Trefoil Q2, on disturbed ground near brook, 26/05/11
427 Trifolium pratense Red Clover Q2 Q3
431 Lupinus sp. Lupin Q3
435 Sarothamnus scoparius Broom  
440 Lythrum salicaria Purple Loosestrife Q2 Q3 by Alders Brook, plentiful on 15/08/96
440 Lythrum portula Water-purslane Q2, floating in Alders Brook, 26/05/11
444 Epilobium hirsutum Great Willow-herb P3 Q3
448 Chamaenerion angustifolium Rosebay Willow-herb P4 Q2
456 Ilex aquifolium Holly  
468 Aesculus hippocastanum Horse Chestnut  
470 Acer platanoides Norway Maple O4, a small tree noted on 30/08/08
470 Acer pseudoplatanus Sycamore Q2
480 Geranium dissectum Cut-leaved Cranesbill O4 P3
488 Impatiens glandulifera Himalayan Balsam P3 a small quantity on 30/08/08
490 Hedera helix Ivy common
501 Anthriscus sylvestris Cow Parsley Q2
502 Conopodium majus Pignut P3 one plant on bridle path 21/05/80
507 Conium maculatum Hemlock O4 by bridle path
514 Angelica sylvestris Wild Angelica P3 open grass 15/05/80; Q2 growing almost in Alders Brook 11/08/79
515 Heracleum sphondylium Hogweed O4/P4
518 Daucus carota Wild Carrot P3 on 30/08/08
531 Solanum dulcamara Bittersweet Q2
534 Convolvulus arvensis Field Bindweed P3 P4
535 Calystegia sepium silvatica Great Bindweed P3
535 Calystegia sepium sepium Hedge Bindweed P3
545 Symphytum officinale Common Comfrey Q2 Q3
559 Stachys palustris Marsh Woundwort P3 Q3 by Alders Brook 15/08/80
559 Ballota nigra Black Horehound  
560 Lamium album White Dead-nettle Q2
562 Lamium purpureum Red Dead-Nettle Q2
564 Scutellaria galericulata Skullcap P3 Q2 Q3
566 Glechoma hederacea Ground Ivy P3
571 Lycopus europaeus Gipsy-wort P3 Q2 Q3
574 Mentha aquatica Water Mint Q2 11/08/79
574 Mentha x piperita Peppermint P5 in rough grass by C.O.L. 11/08/79
575 Mentha spicata Spearmint P5 in rough grass by C.O.L. 11/08/79
582 Callitriche platycarpa Water Starwort  
582 Callitriche stagnalis Common Water Starwort O4/P4
583 Plantago major Great Plantain Q2
584 Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain Q2
586 Fraxinus excelsior Ash P2 between railway and cemetery fences
587 Ligustrum ovalifolium Garden Privet Q2 bridle path by railway fence 02/01/09
599 Linaria vulgaris Common Toadflax O4, in grass in 'pylon patch' area, 11/10/92
600 Digitalis purpurea Foxglove  
649 Galium aparine Cleavers Q2
651 Sambucus nigra Elder Q2
674 Arctium minus Lesser Burdock Q2
676 Cirsium vulgare Spear Thistle P3 Q2
683 Centaurea nigra Black Knapweed Q2
688 Picris echioides Bristly Ox-tongue P4
690 Lactuca serriola Prickly Lettuce Q2
698 Taraxacum officinale Dandelion  
705 Hieracium spp. Leafy Hawkweed  
728 Bellis perennis Daisy Q2
729 Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort Q2
732 Achillea ptarmica Sneezewort 04
732 Achillea millefolium Yarrow P4 Q3
735 Chrysanthemum maximum Shasta Daisy O4 in grass
736 Tripleurospermum maritimum Scentless Mayweed Q2
740 Senecio vulgaris Groundsel Q2
754 Bidens tripartita Trifid Bur-marigold Q2 Q3
760 Alisma plantago-aquatica Common Water Plantain Q2
760 Alisma lanceolatum Narrow-leaved Water Plantain P5 in Roding just S. of Sewage Works fence 02/07/96
762 Elodea canadensis Canadian Pondweed  
772 Potamogeton trichoides Hair-like Pondweed P4
779 Spirodela polyrhiza Greater Duckweed P3 Q2 Q3, Alders Brook, the prominent Duckweed, 11/08/79
780 Lemna minor Common Duckweed P4 Q2
790 Juncus inflexus Hard Rush P3 Q2; Q3, in rough grass near C.O.L. wall 11/08/79
815 Carex hirta Hairy Sedge  
815 Carex riparia Greater Pond-sedge Q2, by brook, 26/05/11
852 Lolium perenne Perennial Rye-Grass Q2
854 Cynosurus cristatus Crested Dog's-tail Q2
862 Glyceria maxima Reed Sweet-grass P3 Q2 Q3
864 Arrhenatherum elatius Tall or False Oat-grass Q2
865 Avena fatua Wild-oat Q2, disturbed ground by brook, 26/05/11
868 Holcus lanatus Yorkshire Fog Q2
895 Hordeum murinum Wall Barley Q2
900 Phragmites australis Common Reed Q2, on east side of brook, 26/05/11
919 Sparganium erectum var. erectum Branched Bur-reed P3 Q2 Q3
921 Typha latifolia Great Reedmace Near Alders Brook, P3 Q2 Q3
945 Narcissus spp. Hybrid Daffodils  
954 Iris pseudacorus Yellow Iris By Alders Brook