HERITAGE - 24: WHIPPS CROSS & HOLLOW PONDS, Another Branch of Epping Forest

Start your walk at the car park on Snaresbrook Road (on the right here)...

Snaresbr0ok Road across the north of the area links Hollybush Hill at Eagle Pond (near Snarebrook Crown Court) with Woodford New Road/Lea Bridge Road on the north-western edge
Snaresbr0ok Road across the north of the area links Hollybush Hill at Eagle Pond (near Snarebrook Crown Court) with Woodford New Road/Lea Bridge Road on the north-western edge | Source
As soon as you leave the car park you're faced with the poser: which way first? You could pretend to be Doctor Livingstone and start into the undergrowth...
As soon as you leave the car park you're faced with the poser: which way first? You could pretend to be Doctor Livingstone and start into the undergrowth... | Source
Or you can take the easy way, follow the pathways and stride onto the open area, breathe in the woodland air - and sit down somewhere quiet with a newspaper, maybe a flask of tea/coffee
Or you can take the easy way, follow the pathways and stride onto the open area, breathe in the woodland air - and sit down somewhere quiet with a newspaper, maybe a flask of tea/coffee | Source

Location

The name Whipps Cross refers to the junction of the A104 Lea Bridge Road with the A114 Whipps Cross Road and Wood Street (B160). It straddled the boundary of the erstwhile civil parishes and municipal boroughs of Walthamstow and Leyton. These were brought together as the London Borough of Waltham Forest in 1965, when the area was no longer part of the county of Essex in a boundary re-shuffle.

At 207 feet (63 m) it is the highest point in the borough above sea level. South and west of Whipps Cross the area is largely residential, terraced housing that dates back to the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. South of Whipps Cross Road junction is a large Victorian mansion used by the 68th Signal Squadron of the Inns of Court and City Yeomanry (originally cavalry), part of the Territorial Army (Britain's equivalent of the US National Guard). A war memorial was erected close by, to the 7th Battalion The Essex Regiment (Territorial) and other local units involved in both 20th Century world wars. The inscription on this memorial, that takes the form of a Celtic cross reads:

"We are the dead. To you with failing hands we throw the torch, be yours to hold it high"

The memorial was moved here from Church Hill, Walthamstow when the TA drill hall was closed in the 1950s.

To the south and east of the junction, on the southern edge of Whipps Cross Road was Forest House, over the last century occupied by Whipps Cross Hospital, an NHS teaching establishment and part of the University of London. North and east of Whipps Cross is a part of Epping Forest known alternately as Leyton and Whipps Cross Flats. A large lake and two smaller ones fashioned from gravel pits is known as the Hollow Ponds.


You could start from 'A' on the map below...

This is Leytonstone Underground Station on the Central Line (except it's above ground), from where you turn left out of the station, up the ramp past the mosaic scenes from Alfred Hitchcock's films, and straight on along Church Road to the Leytonstone High Road for bus 277 that will take you straight to the Alfred Hitchcock Hotel (no joke!) opposite Leytonstone Flats and Hollow Ponds with refreshment kiosks and boating in the summer (from Easter to September). Three bus stops and you're there past the Green Man roundabout.

Whipps Cross Flats & The Hollow Ponds

A markerWhipps Cross Flats & The Hollow Ponds, Leytonstone, London E11 -
Leytonstone, London E11, UK
[get directions]

South-western corner of Epping Forest, boating lake and leisure area for strolling, running or picnics

Origins

The name Whipps Cross appears in records of the late 14th Century as Phip's Cross, being a wayside memorial erected by a John Phyppe. Later alternatives to the name appear in maps and deeds as Phyppys Cross in 1517, Fypps Chrosse in 1537, Phippes Cross 1572, lastly Whipps Cross in 1636. The consonant change may have issued from the local Essex dialect where 'F' sounds were pronounced as 'W'. The early versions disprove later local legend that supposes a derivation of the name from it being where those found guilty of breaking forest bylaws were whipped.

Forest House Estate south of Whipps Cross Road and west of James Lane has its origins in a lease of land granted by the abbot of Stratford Langthorne Abbey in 1492 (in those days land was owned by Church or King, hence 'real estate'). 'Forrest House' was built by 1568 and rebuilt before 1625. In 1658 George Goring, 1st Earl of Norwich acquired the estate through wedlock. His second son Charles, Lord Goring, who enlarged the estate is interred in Leyton Parish Church. Ownership of Forest House went to Sir Henry Capell, who sold it in 1682 to James Houblon, a wealthy City merchant from a Huguenot family. His sons John and Abraham were born at Forest House. In 1703 the estate was sold to Sir Gilbert Heathcote, the last Lord Mayor to ride at the Lord Mayor's Show. (Later Lord Mayors would ride in the large gold-leaf covered carriage on show in the Museum of London on the Barbican). The estate was sold again, this time to the Bosanquet family in 1743. They held the estate then until 1889, when the West Ham Board of Guardians bought it and established a Workhouse there. In WWI Workhouse Infirmary (hospital) was requisitioned to treat wounded soldiers. The site became Whipps Cross Hospital in 1917, visited that year by King George V and Queen Mary. The mansion house itself would become a ward for male mental patients (possibly stress oriented illnesses due to trench warfare), and was finally demolished in 1964..

Into the interior...

Looks like we've taken a wrong turning here... But no, that's the Hollow Pond ahead, turn right....
Looks like we've taken a wrong turning here... But no, that's the Hollow Pond ahead, turn right.... | Source
Over the gravel workings. This is where gravel for wartime 'sandbags' was excavated...
Over the gravel workings. This is where gravel for wartime 'sandbags' was excavated... | Source
A brief glimpse at the lush vegetation around the lakeside - it is more like a lake than a pond after all - and then on...
A brief glimpse at the lush vegetation around the lakeside - it is more like a lake than a pond after all - and then on... | Source

The Lido

In 1905 a swimming pool was dug manually as part of an unemployment relief scheme, locally spoken of as 'The Batho'. The site was close to the junction of Lea Bridge Road and Snaresbrook Road, and became noted for being muddy and unhealthy. In 1923 the borough councils of Leyton and Walthamstow jointly agreed to improvement funds and in May, 1932 a new lido or open air swimming pool was opened by the Lord Mayor of (the City of) London.

Costing £6,000 it was kidney shaped, with a 100 yard (91m) straight section for competitive swimming events. A paved surround and changing rooms were included and the pool was fed from a subterranean spring. The new lido was closed again in September that same year due to a water sample taken, that showed it unfit for bathing in. After further rebuilding, including the sealing of the pool floor with concrete and the installation of a chlorination system, Whipps Cross Lido re-opened in 1937. It was now an extensive pool, 300 feet (91m) long and 130 feet across (40m) with a diving pool 30 feet (9.1 m) deep.

By 1981 attendances had dropped to 20,000 yearly and closure was decided on, taking effect on 4th September, 1982. By December, 1983 the site was levelled and re-forested. Only a section of bar-gated access driveway can still be seen near the traffic lights that control the road junction.

A family at the waterside feeds ducks, geese and swans. There's a broad range of waterfowl on this lake - it is more a lake than a pond after all - that hangs around for the handouts, (welfare state for birds)
A family at the waterside feeds ducks, geese and swans. There's a broad range of waterfowl on this lake - it is more a lake than a pond after all - that hangs around for the handouts, (welfare state for birds) | Source
Looking along the largest of the 'Hollow Ponds' , north to south, you realise it's a bit more than a pond. Then you see...
Looking along the largest of the 'Hollow Ponds' , north to south, you realise it's a bit more than a pond. Then you see... | Source
The boathouse through the trees at the north-west corner of the lake - notice the ice cream van lurking beside the bushes. refreshments can be bought at the serving hatch on this side of the building, boat hire is at the front window facing the lake.
The boathouse through the trees at the north-west corner of the lake - notice the ice cream van lurking beside the bushes. refreshments can be bought at the serving hatch on this side of the building, boat hire is at the front window facing the lake. | Source

Snaresbrook

Snaresbrook, an area of north-east London lies largely in the London Borough of Redbridge that borders the London Borough of Waltham Forest on its south-west side. The whole area fell under the County of Essex until 1965. The name stems from 'Sayers Brook' that flows into the River Roding, that in turn runs around the edge of Wanstead near the Redbridge Roundabout and past Wansead Park (and past Wanstead Golf Course via Ilford to the Thames near Barking).

Snaresbrook borders on South Woodford on its northern side, the southern edge of Epping Forest, Upper Leytonstone and Walthamstow on its south-western edge. Wanstead lies to the immediate east. Snaresbrook Ward in the London Borough of Redbridge extends over much of Wanstead High Street. The ward forms part of the 2007 boundary re-designation and is within the (UK) Parliamentary Constituency of Leyton and Wanstead. The western-most part of Snaresbrook is beyond the ward boundary as part of Walthamstow's Parliamentary Constituency.

A prominent architectural feature that faces the road junction of Hollybush Hill (A1199) with Snaresbrook Road is a white-fronted Georgian public house named 'The Eagle' that fronts a Travelodge hotel (hidden from the road by trees). Well worth a visit for the variety of drinks and, as part of the Chef & Brewer chain, offers a handsome menu. The restaurant understandably tends to be busy at weekends.

Snaresbrook Primary School and Forest School (private, fee-paying) are the two educational establishments in the area, the latter was used in the filming of 'Never Let Me Go', doubling for the Hailsham (Sussex) assembly sequences.

From little acorns, and slightly bigger saplings...
From little acorns, and slightly bigger saplings... | Source
Mighty oaks grow. There's a variety of oak trees, mainly English and Turkey Oak, that grow in southern England. Notice none of the leaves has turned colour yet and this was taken on the 3rd October!
Mighty oaks grow. There's a variety of oak trees, mainly English and Turkey Oak, that grow in southern England. Notice none of the leaves has turned colour yet and this was taken on the 3rd October! | Source
But some don't come off too well, even this close to water. Thankfully there aren't that many dead trees, it's just old age or disease that renders some to look more like concrete sculpture
But some don't come off too well, even this close to water. Thankfully there aren't that many dead trees, it's just old age or disease that renders some to look more like concrete sculpture | Source
And there's lush vegetation practically all the way round the lake
And there's lush vegetation practically all the way round the lake | Source
Close to the boat hire shore, rowing boats are chained together around a couple of eyots - looks like they've got a few residents, terns that don't like to get their feet wet
Close to the boat hire shore, rowing boats are chained together around a couple of eyots - looks like they've got a few residents, terns that don't like to get their feet wet | Source
Along Whipps Cross Road there are a couple of snack shacks. This one is the Log Cabin, done up with half-logs to look the part and reasonably priced. The other, the Lakeside Diner opens early mornings for commercial drivers, closes around 4pm
Along Whipps Cross Road there are a couple of snack shacks. This one is the Log Cabin, done up with half-logs to look the part and reasonably priced. The other, the Lakeside Diner opens early mornings for commercial drivers, closes around 4pm | Source
Back towards the Green Man Roundabout is the Alfred Hitchcock Hotel where the director lived as a boy - decked out for the Rugby World Cup (owners are South African) - nice bar!
Back towards the Green Man Roundabout is the Alfred Hitchcock Hotel where the director lived as a boy - decked out for the Rugby World Cup (owners are South African) - nice bar! | Source

Alfred Hitchcock

The director of 'Psycho', 'The Birds', 'Vertigo' and a score of other suspense thriller movies, Alfred Hitchcock lived in one of the terraced houses fronting on Whipps Cross Road in his later childhood. I am informed he used to get about a lot in the area, playing pranks on people as far afield as Wanstead Park (where there was also a rowing boat hire business on the Perch Pond).

At Leytonstone Underground (Central Line) station there are mosaics on the exit walls of scenes from his films. There are mementoes of his films around the bar, from film posters to magazine and newspaper articles. Browse while you drink, or watch one of the matches on the large screen at the front of the bar (street side).

The building, and the adjacent three houses, is now part of 'The Alfred Hitchcock Hotel' with its rustic bar and open fireplace, large windows overlooking Leyton Flats and sizeable car park at the rear A fair variety of drinks is available here, as well as meals in its restaurant that overlooks the rear car park. Rooms are competitively priced and afford good views across the open ground and woodland opposite.

The owners being a South African family, at the time of writing they have the bunting out in force for the World Cup Rugby, (some matches being played at the nearby stadium in Stratford where next year West Ham Football Club will move into from their present ground in East Ham, a few miles to the south of Wanstead)

This view, taken towards the south of the area shows a bit of the breadth of the open area. It takes about twenty minutes of unhurried walking to do the length along the A114 Whipps Cross Road
This view, taken towards the south of the area shows a bit of the breadth of the open area. It takes about twenty minutes of unhurried walking to do the length along the A114 Whipps Cross Road | Source
In the shadow of Snaresbrook Crown Court I found this oddity. I'm told it's where there was a power point for an Anti Aircraft Battery in WWII. The stone beside it is a boundary marker
In the shadow of Snaresbrook Crown Court I found this oddity. I'm told it's where there was a power point for an Anti Aircraft Battery in WWII. The stone beside it is a boundary marker | Source
At the bottom corner of the area, Eagle Pond resembles Swan Lake at times - the handsome 'Mock Tudor' building at the far side of the pond is Snaresbrook Crown Court. All the waterfowl had crowded around someone to my left, including swans
At the bottom corner of the area, Eagle Pond resembles Swan Lake at times - the handsome 'Mock Tudor' building at the far side of the pond is Snaresbrook Crown Court. All the waterfowl had crowded around someone to my left, including swans | Source
On the way back to the car park there's a sign that welcomes you to the Borough of Waltham Forest, the bottom caption reads 'Birthplace of William Morris', the artist and philosopher
On the way back to the car park there's a sign that welcomes you to the Borough of Waltham Forest, the bottom caption reads 'Birthplace of William Morris', the artist and philosopher | Source

The most remarkable building within Snaresbrook, largely out of sight from the Eagle Pond on Snaresbrook Road, is Snaresbrook Crown Court.

It was opened in 1843 as an Infant Orphan Asylum by King Leopold I of Belgium. It later became the Royal Wanstead School. The architectural design was undertaken in a partnership between Sir George Gilbert Scott and William Bonython Moffatt. Part of the Mock Tudor front can be seen over the trees that border Eagle Pond, with its frail looking turrets that poke up on either wing of this grey stone building.

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13 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

Thanks for another delightful tour Alan. The photos were great as well as the commentary. I would love to check out the Alfred Hitchcock Hotel too and maybe watch a couple of Rugby World Cup games there. Sorry that Australia knocked the host country England out.....not. :)

Cheers.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 14 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

All right John, enjoy the gloat. It was Wales that really did it for our lads, and I don't think they'd recovered before they met the Wallabies. My namesake probably won't survive this embarrassment (Stuart L.) Next time...

Meanwhile, glad you enjoyed the walk. I'll add a picture of 'The Eagle' and the site of the Lido when I get over there next. Watch out for the additions by midweek next week. You'd like the 'Alfred Hitchcock' though, with its 'Olde Worlde' bar. Some Aussie lagers on offer (can't remember which, I don't do aftershave, arf-arf).


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 14 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Thank you for the interesting tour. Wondering about the reason for the name Hollow Pond - it looked quite full rather than a hollow! We visited the UK on several occasions and saw so much, I can't imagine how we missed this lovely corner.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

Alan, I don't know if I will be gloating much longer, we are playing Wale next and three of our best players look like being missing due to suspension and injury. I hope we have enough depth to cover.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 14 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Hello Blossom, feel free to wander back as the mood takes.

The reason for the name is that it was dug out for gravel extraction - see the pictures in the second and third group taken by the pond side. It's fed by a diverted spring (the one that fed the Lido), but sometimes almost empties out in a dry summer. It's then almost possible to walk onto the eyots from the east side of the pond without getting your feet wet.

Back again John? Feel the earth quake under your feet? That's the Welsh props bearing down on the Wallabies... Should have called them 'Roos', they're bigger.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

Hey Alan, we'll see how it goes. Couldn't call them the "Kangaroos', that is the name of the Aussie "Rugby League" team.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 14 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Interesting, we've got a RU England side but not RL - then again Oz has got a national team for every sport - including tiddlywinks?


Jodah profile image

Jodah 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

Yes you have Alan, we play them a lot. England actually hosted the last Rugby League World Cup a couple of years back. Australia, New Zealand and England are the top three rank Rugby League countries, with the Kiwis currently having top position.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 14 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Just shows what I know. I'm all oriented towards Association Football (round things you kick about with your feet), a staunch supporter of 'Boro. It's the wife who follows Rugby - as well as 'Hammers'. Well let's hope the Men of Harlech don't sing you'se to a standstill (anybody seen the tubes, sport? No, not the didgery-doo-dahs!)


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 13 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

A delightful tour of a part of England I'm not so familiar with, thank you.

Lawrence


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 13 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Hello again Lawrence. Next time you're 'up top' and in 'the Smoke' (London), just hop on a Central Line train and get out at Leytonstone, take a walk or a 257 bus to Whipps Cross Road and cross over from 'The Alfred Hitchcock'. Easy. The whole vista will present itself to you, tea bars and all (fancy a row on the Hollow Pond?)

It looks like the All Blacks are set to do it again, Haka and all. Some of the action took place a few miles south of Leytonstone at the Olympic Stadium (west of where I live).


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 13 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Alan

Will do, a pint in the 'Alfred Hitchcock' sounds great'

The whole country is behind the ABs like we never saw in England! Most of my workmates think it amusing the ABs are using the training ground built for the England squad!

Lawrence


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 13 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

It's all water under the bridge, Lawrence. Meanwhile why not take a look at another couple of pages in the HERITAGE series, on the Kiwis at Cassino and on Crete (see Profile page)

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