With the very gradual return of events, we’re delighted to announce that the Wanstead Events Calendar (aka the Wanstead Social Diary) is returning to Wansteadium.

For years the calendar has been the definitive guide to events taking place in Wanstead, and we’re pleased that the past few months off has allowed it to be given a significant upgrade.

As before, if you are an event organiser, you are encouraged to submit details of your event via this page.

Soon organisers will not only be able to publicise their events through the calendar, but will also be able to sell tickets through the listing. The tickets will be automatically issued, and organisers will get a list of names of attendees. The proceeds will be automatically paid to you. If you’re an event organiser, watch this space.

The title of Hannah Armstrong’s landmark book Wanstead House: East London’s Lost Palace, which is to be published next March, has sparked a bit of a debate. Specifically: was Wanstead House in Essex or London?

Dr Armstrong spent years researching the history of the House, which once stood grandly in Wanstead Park. She has thoughts on the Essex/London matter, and writes the following:

Thank you everyone for your interest in my forthcoming book. As you can imagine, the title of a book requires careful consideration and there are several reasons why we chose ‘Wanstead House: East London’s Lost Palace’.

If Wanstead House were still to exist, it would be situated in east London, both in terms of postal district (since 1856) and local government (since 1965). The fact that it is no longer here means that it has been lost to east London. 

Other existing houses, such as Kenwood, Osterley, Chiswick, Ham and Syon, despite having originally been part of Middlesex are now seen as part of London.

Perhaps most important is the relationship that Wanstead’s owners such as Josiah and Richard Child had with the capital. They looked towards London, not Essex, to make their fortunes and to build their social status. Many contemporary accounts and images of Wanstead highlight the estate’s proximity to the capital and John Rocque featured Wanstead in his famous Survey of London and its environs in 1746. To have named the book ‘Essex’s Lost Palace’ would have been to ignore a major strand of why Wanstead developed as such an important estate. That is why it felt most appropriate to refer to east London.

I hope that gives you a better understanding of why we chose this title and I hope you enjoy the book when it comes out next year.

The book is now available for pre-order from Wanstead Bookshop for £30, a pre-order discount of £15 on the cover price. Pre-ordering helps Liverpool University Press finance the printing of the book.

A ‘Little Library’ – a box of books put outside a house for passers-by to take a free book or leave one for someone else – has been stolen from a Wanstead street.

Journalist Victoria Richards built the box with her children last year and bolted it to the wall outside her house in Belgrave Road. Over the next few months, neighbours and people living nearby took books that she had put there, and replaced them with others of their own. “We never had to refill it,” she said, “it took care of itself.”

But on Tuesday she discovered someone had taken the whole thing – box included.

“It might seem silly but we REALLY loved it. We rushed out every morning to see what had been put in. It was chosen with love by the two little ones. We sanded it and painted it and stencilled it – we even gave it a lovely shiny brass door knob,” she said. “It was bolted to the wall so someone must have given it quite a wrench to remove it.”

Friends and neighbours on the Lakehouse Estate are rallying round with talk of getting a replacement, she says.

Victoria fixing the box to the wall in 2020

Wanstead’s newest coffee shop has opened for service, with new customers mingling (in a socially distant manner) as they try to remember that this used to be Percy Ingle. There are a couple of tell-tale signs.

Owners Jane and Mark Farrier, who have converted the shop in record time, have retained some of the distinctive Ingle green tiling by the front windows and behind the counter.

But the biggest shock customers will have is that there is a garden – who knew?? – where tables and chairs offer an outside catering experience, important in these days. It feels like a haven, gets daytime sunshine, and is destined to be highly popular.

There are familiar faces too – several of the staff have previously worked in other parts of the High Street, including manager Paul, formerly at the Larder.

As is our tradition, we wish Jane and Mark the very best in their new enterprise.

Wansteadium reader Nigel Franceschi writes:

I am sure that many Wanstead residents will be aware by now that, for the past three and a half years, Dr Hannah Armstrong has been writing what will surely become the definitive book on the history of Wanstead House. 

Due to be published by Liverpool University Press on behalf of Historic England in March 2022, ‘Wanstead House: East London’s Lost Palace’ will cover the history of the park, the house and its owners in unprecedented detail.

‘Wanstead House: East London’s Lost Palace’ will fascinate anyone who enjoys visiting Wanstead Park, or who has an interest in the history of the magnificent Palladian mansion that stood at its heart or who wants to learn more about the lives of the people who lived there. Whatever connection you may have to Wanstead Park, you will surely want to take advantage of this wonderful offer and, in so doing, help to contribute to the book’s success.

The book is now available for pre-order through Wanstead Bookshop. When it’s published next March the cost will be £45, but pre-ordering now will get you a £15 discount. Liverpool University Press’s publication costs are being financed through pre-orders, so ordering it now will help the success of the whole project.

Christchurch Green this morning

Saturday is the National Trust’s first Blossom Watch day when it encourages people to post pictures of their trees, both to celebrate Spring and also to become more aware of our surroundings. So please do send any pictures of Wanstead blossom to us here via info@wansteadium.com.