WANSTEAD Central Line (Hainault) LONDON TUBE RAMBLES
An elegant church with a surprise in the graveyard, then a tiny temple and lovely waterside walk in Wanstead Park which is about 10 minutes from the station. Allow half a day for your explorations.
Wanstead Park is itself a great place to wander, but on the way is a interesting church, well worth the slight detour. Take the left hand exit from the Tube station and go left again at the 1897 Diamond Jubilee drinking fountain - look out for the little shingled spire - on the corner of The Green. Cross Redbridge Lane West. Continue into St. Mary's Avenue and at the end you will find the impressive late eighteenth century church of St. Mary* (not open for casual visits).
Follow the path round to the south side of the church and turn right (opposite the vestry) door) to discover something very unusual andrather creepy – a watcher’s hut (c.1831). A few metres down the shady path is a cedar. Leaving the path, walk towards the tree and turn left. You can go inside the 'sentry box' where the guard sheltered as he kept a look-out for body-snatchers. In 1832 the Anatomy Act was passed to increase number of cadavers available to medical schools in an effort to stop the grisly but lucrative trade in dead bodies. Back on the path, you can see the fine monument to a sea captain, complete with carved chain and anchor.
When you have finished indulging in horrid fantasies, return to Overton Drive and go right , passing Wanstead Golf Course buildings. These used to be the stables of the architecturally important Wanstead House, which was demolished and sold as scrap in 1822 on the orders of the creditors of the profligate 4th Earl of Mornington. Turn right into The Warren Drive, a quiet residential road. There are some interesting windows on No.10 - Art Deco meets Art Nouveau.
At the end of the road turn right and walk down to the entrance to the 57 hectares (140 acres) of Wanstead Park. Go left through the white gates onto a sandy track. This will bring you to the Temple. Originally a feature of the gardens and deer park attached to Wanstead House, this pretty summer house is now a poignant relic of vanished glory. From here you can get to the beautiful tree-lined Ornamental Waters (east) – another reminder of the park’s magnificent past. To the south is a second series of ponds and a little tea kiosk. You can wander round for a whole day, so might need the toilets situated in the brick buildings adjoining the Temple - they are so discreetly placed that you could easily miss them. Most paths are suitable for pushchairs (though a bit bumpy), but off piste gets rather soggy after rain. You may find this sketchmap useful.
* Since it has been accessible in previous years, it is worth checking the Open House London website to see if this building is listed as being open in September.
Wanstead is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings even in the most unpromising areas covered by the outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the link above and see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!