London's eastern Eden
Wanstead is a pocket of east London that is attracting a variety of people. Some have moved in from Essex. Others are East Enders looking to trade up. It's easy to understand the appeal.
Relatively affordable housing and handsome streets are key factors. As are the wide, open spaces. This is a green, mature suburb on the southern fringe of Epping Forest, with more green spaces - Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats - to the east and south.
"This is a friendly village, where many people know one another," says Sally Knight, who has lived in Wanstead for the past 21 years. "There are plenty of shops, pubs and restaurants, and there is a Tube station at either end of the high street, so you can go into central London and get home easily."
Sally Knight's house is worth more than five times the price she paid for it. However,those looking to come to Wanstead can still get good value.
Wanstead grew rapidly after the arrival of the railway in the mid-18th century and has many Victorian and Edwardian houses. It still has good rail links in the form of the Central Line, and the A12 and M11 are nearby.
The woolly mammoths and Romans are long gone, but St Mary's Church, which dates back to 1790, is still standing, and is the only Grade I-listed structure in Redbridge. The borough almost had two outstanding buildings: the enormous Wanstead House was sold for scrap after its last owner, a nephew of Wellington, went bust. Local state schools perform well and there are also good independents in the area.
Now that her family has grown up, Sally Knight is considering selling up. "We want a smaller, more manageable house," she explains. "All my friends say I'm crazy to leave Wanstead."
She believes her buyers were won over by the leaded windows, original fireplaces and oak parquet floors in her Twenties house. Period features have been stripped out of many of the other older houses in the area.
How much do flats cost?
Studios and one-bedroom flats start at about £125,000, and two-bedroom flats at about £150,000. Wanstead has a good number of purpose-built low-rise blocks, some high-rise towers and many Victorian and Edwardian houses and conversion flats. Leasehold versus freehold? Some two-bedroom conversions and three-bedroom ex-council flats in high-rise blocks have asking prices in the low £200,000s, but small cottages may cost only slightly more.
What about houses?
A modern two-bedroom terrace with a large (19ft) lounge, a west-facing garden and an interior in need of updating is £247,500 at Estates Online. A three-bedroom Fifties end-terrace is £350,000, and a three-bedroom Victorian mid-terrace is £385,000, at Douglas Allen Spiro.
What about larger homes
A four-bedroom end-terrace on Harpenden Road (E12) has two receptions, a conservatory, some period features and a 70ft southerly garden. It is near Aldersbrook Primary School, and enjoys plenty of greenery, located midway between Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats; £389,950 at Estates Online.
How's the transport?
Three Central Line stations - Wanstead, Leytonstone and Snaresbrook (Zone 4) - are convenient for different parts of Wanstead. Manor Park rail station is handy for the southern end of Wanstead and serves Liverpool Street. Wanstead is only three stops from Stratford, which will be home to a new Eurostar station and the 2012 Olympics.
How's the shopping?
Wanstead has a Somerfield (South Woodford has a Waitrose) and a wide range of local shops, including a traditional butcher, French baker, Italian delicatessen and three designer clothing shops. Gotico (Italian) and Hadley House (international) are popular, as are the children-friendly Gastrodome (international) and Nam An (Vietnamese). Devotees of old-fashioned boozers make the Nightingale their local.
What about local recreational areas?
Many green spaces in and around Wanstead have blue bits. Wanstead Park, south of the station, has a series of ponds - the Basin, Shoulder of Mutton, Heronry and Perch - which were originally part of Wanstead House. It also has tennis courts, a bowling green and football pitches. Wanstead Flats are just south.
How good are the local schools?
Quite good. Several local primaries consistently achieve above-average results, and Wanstead Church Primary's 93 in English and maths is 15 points above average (must try harder in science, which was only three points higher). However, Wanstead High School, on 52 per cent for GCSEs, is two points below the national average.
Tell me more about Wanstead House.
One owner was the Earl of Leicester, and three house guests were Henry VII, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Rebuilt in the 19th century, it was 260ft long and 75ft deep, with 21 bays. The profligate owner was William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley. The house stood on what is now the first hole of Wanstead Golf Course.
And one for the pub quiz
What structure was built to help to prevent gruesome medieval crimes and still stands in St Mary's churchyard?
Answer: A hut used by watchmen on the lookout for body snatchers.
Douglas Allen Spiro, 020-8530 3741; Online Estates, 020-8989 1991Reuse content