A Guide to Commuting In Regency London

Rules of the Road | Wanstead | UK Destinations | Porters, Goods & Luggage

stagecoach perils

Finding a stagecoach might be the start of your troubles

Should you ever find yourself transported back to Regency London (1819), here is an essential guide to making your way home. Remember that this was an age before trains, or motorised public transport could whisk you home in time for tea. Your destination will undoubtedly be unrecognisable from how it looks today, yet I hope my advice will remove you from the streets of the Metropolis before darkness sets in, and the Regency Underworld takes over.

Having explained the rules and regulations of coach fares, this second post focusses on my own locality, namely Wanstead and its environs. But part three now provides information upon travelling to other destinations throughout Britain. Special priority will be given to requests submitted by anyone overly anxious about the dangers of slipping through a time portal.

book reference

Information drawn from this hand-book

So if one day you do happen to wake up in 1819, please DON’T PANIC because London already has a highly organised and efficient transport system, relying on horse power [and Old Father Thames] to move people from A to B. You will discover a network of coaching inns and wharves, acting as proto ‘station terminals’ taking you to all manner of destinations.  Each can offer a choice of departure times, mode of carriage, and hospitality to suit the weary traveller should they decide to bide a while longer in the City before departure.

Before you book your journey, it is necessary to draw your attention to the terms and conditions prevailing in 1819.  After all you don’t want to end up in darkest Snaresbrook being bludgeoned by an irate coach driver because you have failed to read the small print governing Regency period transportation.

Most coaching inns provide stagecoaches, with some offering luxury Chariots to their richest clients. However, to reach your destination safely you may be compelled to board a Waggon alongside farm animals – or worse still, endure the ignominy of sharing a Cart with anything from perishable goods through to dead bodies (perished goods heading back to their parish for burial). So please study the timetable carefully to ensure you make the right choice!!

 

Wanstead [Essex, 8 miles from London] – Approximate cost 11 shillings

Magpie and Stump3
The Magpie & Stump – With prime views of Newgate Prison executions from the upstairs windows

As late as 1821 Wanstead was a very sparsely populated, with most local employment engaged at Wanstead House. In fact the only means of hired travel to Wanstead was by Cart:-

Kings Arms, Leadenhall Street, and Spotted Dog, Strand 4pm daily; Blue Boar Cellar, Aldgate, Kings Arms & Flower Pot, Bishopsgate; Three Nuns, Whitechapel, and White Hart, Strand, 2pm daily; Cheshire Cheese, Crutched Friars, and Magpie & Stump, Newgate Street, daily (on demand)

Given that the Wanstead Estate produced a great deal of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as timber, it is likely that Carts travelled to London laden with goods early each day and then in the afternoon served as carriages for their return journey.

 

Leytonstone [Essex, 6 miles] – Approximate cost 8 shillings

saracens head aldgate 1855

The Saracen’s Head, Aldgate – Regular trips to Leytonstone

Given the surprising difference in mileage from that of nearby Wanstead, I assume that ‘Laytonstone’ (as it was then termed) must have had a drop off point nearer the parish boundary with Stratford. There are far more options available to Leytonstone dwellers:

By Coach daily: – The Bull, Aldgate, 11am and 3pm; Kings Arms, Leadenhall Street, 10am, 3pm, 4pm and 7pm; Saracen’s Head Aldgate, and Three Nuns, Whitechapel, 10am and 7pm; Blue Boar Cellar, Aldgate, 4pm during summer, 3pm in winter.

By Cart daily:- White Hart, Strand, Flower Pot and King’s Arms, Bishopsgate, and The Bull, Whitechapel at 3pm, Cheshire Cheese, Crutched Friars, The Bull and Blackboy & Camel, Leadenhall Street, and Magpie and Stump Newgate, (on demand)

 

Snaresbrook [Essex, 8 miles] – Approximate cost 11 shillings

the bell gracechurch st

The Bell, Bell Yard, Holborn – served Snaresbrook

During my research into Wanstead House I discovered that Snaresbrook was an important stage post for carriages travelling in the direction of Norfolk. This may explain why there are a reasonable amount of options available in London for what was (at this time) mainly open country.

By Coach daily:- Flower Pot and Four Swans, Bishopsgate, 10am, 4pm and 7pm

By Waggon daily:- The Bull, Aldgate, 3pm

By Cart daily:-   The Bell, Bell Yard, Gracechurch Street and Flower Pot, Bishopsgate Street 3pm and Kings Arms, Bishopsgate, at 2pm

 

Woodford [Essex, 9 miles] – Approximate cost 12 shillings

the kings arms holborn

The Kings Arms – good for Woodford

By 1819 Woodford had a number of fine mansions, farms and estates, so this may explain the range of options available for travel to that destination

By Coach daily:- King’s Arms, Leadenhall Street, 10am, 3pm, 4pm and 7pm; Saracen’s Head, Aldgate, and Blackboy & Camel, Leadenhall Street 3pm and outside No 93 Bishopsgate Street 4-30pm. The Bull, Leadenhall Street has a service 3pm daily apart from Sunday which leaves at 10-30am; and Three Nuns, Whitechapel, does 10-30am and 7pm daily, apart from Sunday when it departs at 9am and 7pm

By Cart daily:- Three Nuns, Whitechapel, 4pm; Flower Pot, Bishopsgate, 2pm; The Bull, Aldgate,  3pm and Magpie & Stump, Newgate Street, 2pm daily. Kings Arms, Bishopsgate, offers a service Wednesdays & Saturdays only at 2pm

 

Woodford Bridge [Essex, 10 miles] – Approximate cost 13 shillings

blue boar aldgate

The Blue Boar Cellar, Aldgate – try here for Woodford Bridge

Given that Woodford Bridge is close to Woodford, I am surprised to note the lack of overlap in service between these two destinations. The Bull, Aldgate for example offers a Coach to Woodford Bridge but only a cart to Woodford – and none of the regular coach services to Woodford have the option to stay on until Woodford Bridge. Perhaps folk were happy to walk the mile or two between destinations rather than looking upon coach services as a series of stops – which they clearly weren’t given the limited passenger capacity of each carriage.

By Coach daily:- The Bull, Aldgate, 3pm and Blue Boar Cellar, Aldgate,  4pm winter and 3pm summer, daily, save for Sunday which is at 8am

By Cart daily:-  Blue Boar Cellar, Aldgate,  4pm winter and 3pm summer, daily, save for Sunday which is at 8am, and The Bull, Aldgate, and Talbot, Whitechapel, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays  only at 3pm

♦   ♦   ♦

I hope you have found this an interesting guide as to how our ancestors found their way home from London. All information is drawn from a book in my possession, published by Critchett & Woods at the end of 1818. Meticulous work seems to have gone into the production of their guide – and I will be dipping into it again to examine other destinations served by the once great coaching inns of old London town.

These beautiful water colour paintings of London’s lost inns are all by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd (1792-1864). If he was around today I would gladly buy him a pint for his dedicated attention to detail.

If you like to know about old London pubs and coaching inns, I recommend Pubs History – an excellent resource for any local historian

Finding Wanstead in Thomas Hood’s Tylney Hall

Overview of Thomas Hood & Wanstead

Review of Tylney Hall | Finding Wanstead in Tylney Hall  | Black representation in Tylney Hall

Up the slope Wanstead Park

Hood conjured a vision of Wanstead Flats – not Wanstead House

The overview to this blog looks at Thomas Hood’s impact as a poet and wry observer of the joy and hardships of life in the early decades of the nineteenth century. As explained, his only novel Tylney Hall (1834), gave readers false hope of discovering what actually happened at Wanstead House, nearby ancestral home of the Earls of Tylney –  which had been suddenly and brutally demolished less than a decade earlier. Such a glaringly obvious deceit within the novel’s title undoubtedly upset readers. The Literary Gazette echoed this widespread disappointment

It was inferred that the private histories of the Wellesley and Long families had furnished matter for the novel…. Accordingly, not a few copies travelled eastward, through Stratford-le-Bow, but, of course, to the signal discomfiture of the speculators [because] the figures were not drawn from living models

I am fascinated by the fact that the central character – from whose perspective we follow events – is a black man – Not a stereotypically menial representation found in the background of much Georgian art, but a wealthy, educated and well-connected black man, with a profound understanding of the prejudice he encounters. What’s more he is not the only black character in the book. I thought this plot-device would have set alarm bells ringing as to Tylney Hall ‘s credibility. But having examined several contemporary reviews of Hood’s novel – both good and bad – I find no evidence to suggest that the presence of black people of worth was anything out of the ordinary to late Georgian readers.

middling heat in the west indies 1817

Tylney Hall avoids traditional black stereotypes

So how much, if anything, does Tylney Hall represent the geography and social fabric of eighteenth century Wanstead? I will answer this question in two sections, firstly looking for physical evidence of Wanstead’s presence – and secondly questioning whether the presence of black (or Asian) people in that part of the world was as commonplace as Tylney Hall implies

1. Finding Wanstead in Tylney Hall

It is important to remember that Hood was often unwell during his years at the Lake House. Thus the writer had to rely heavily upon his surrounding neighbourhood to create the backdrop for Tylney Hall. From the outset Hood makes no effort to disguise the fact that Wanstead is the setting.

Rabbits1900

The Three Rabbits was within walking distance of Hood’s home

The opening chapter of Tylney Hall  takes us to the Rabbits public house ‘set in a bleak wasteland called the Flats…On the other side stretched an immense park, behind an angle of which lay perdue a small village.’ Straight away the geography of Wanstead is laid before us – from Manor Park’s Three Rabbits pub in the south up to the village beyond Wanstead Park. Hood gives a lovely description of the pub and its characters, including their regular whist drives. We also learn that the local coaching inn, which stands outside the grounds of ‘Tylney Hall’ is called ‘The Green Man’  – not just the same name but the same proximity of Leytonstone’s Green Man pub to the gates of old Wanstead House.

green man

The Green Man Inn (Leytonstone) features in Hood’s Tylney Hall

Tylney Hall is less obviously a replica of the real Wanstead House. Perhaps Hood never visited Wicked William’s Palladian palace before it was demolished, for interior descriptions of Tylney Hall are scanty. However Tylney Hall does possess ‘a great many Gobelin Tapestries’ – copying one of the main treasures advertised for sale by George Robins in 1822, suggesting that Hood may have seen or possessed an auction catalogue. External features of Wanstead House – such as the stables (still standing today) and the octagonal Basin are replicated by Hood for the fictitious Tylney Hall

gobelin tapestry

Gobelin Tapestries prominently featured in Robins’ auction catalogue (1822)

Hood’s lovely descriptions of the park, lake and waterways around ‘Tylney Hall’ can only be picked up and appreciated by readers familiar with the landmarks in question. We can therefore conclude that Hood’s novel is definitely a homage to Wanstead Park.

2. Finding black people in Wanstead

cruickshank from the west indies

West Indian immigrants satirised by Cruickshank (1824)

Recent research has shown that black people were fairly commonly employed as servants in wealthy or titled households during the Georgian era. As such many were educated to a high-level commensurate with their status within the hierarchy of the home. In many cases these families contained mixed race children or servants – either of whom would have enjoyed the protection of their wider family group. Those who returned from service in the East India Company often settled in close knit ‘Anglo-Indian’ communities – The writer William Makepeace Thackeray  (1811-1863), who was born in Calcutta and returned to England in 1815 to complete his education – lived in one such community – sticking together to overcome local resentments. Another example may be found in the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, which has recently been made into a film. But most importantly, there was a general influx of foreign settlers in Britain’s urban areas from the eighteenth century onwards. By the 1790s significant immigrant communities, arriving from Africa, the West Indies or Asia – either aboard merchant ships, or demobbed military/naval conscripts. In London, for example, the slums around St Giles were considered to be black ghettos.

During my research on ‘Wicked William’ of Wanstead House I discovered that during the 1790s the Wellesley-Pole family regularly opened a soup kitchen from their home in Savile Row – This weekly event was attended by such numbers of homeless black immigrants that they were eventually ordered to close it to keep the peace.

the rabbit salesman

For many,  black people were a regular feature of everyday life

So, let’s take these findings to the Wanstead area. First of all we can see that a great many estates in and around Epping Forest were bought up and subsequently developed by East India Company employees and merchants. Given its relatively close proximity to London and the docks – it is therefore perfectly reasonable to conclude that Hood’s Tylney Hall does reflect the reality of black people – rich and poor, entitled and subservient – who may have lived or worked around Wanstead at this time.

In my final part I will take a closer look at three black characters from Tylney Hall to get a better understanding of their place in society and the interaction they had – both good and bad – with those around them. I want to show that for Hood at least – there was a true respect for black people. Perhaps Hood was reflecting the prevalent public enthusiasm for black culture following the recent Abolition of Slavery Act (which gained Royal Assent just two months prior to publication). But I prefer to think his experience of living amidst the poor and under-privileged around Wanstead was the more fertile ground where his characterisations were formed

+++

Paul Edwards has written a great article in History Today looking at black personalities in Georgian England

For more information on the subject of black history try this select bibliography:

Reconstructing the Black Past: Blacks in Britain 1780-1830 by Dr Norma Myers

The Fortunes of Francis Barber: The True Story of the Jamaican Slave Who Became Samuel Johnson’s Heir by Michael Bundock

Untold Histories: Black People in England and Wales During the Period of the British Slave Trade, C. 1660-1807by Kathleen Chater

Black England: Life Before Emancipation, and  Black Victorians/Black Victoriana – both by Gretchen Gerzina

London In The Eighteenth Century: A Great and Monstrous Thing  by Jerry White

Finally you may like to read more about the Wellesley-Pole’s charitable work, as they attempt to rescue a tramp. If only their son Wicked William of Wanstead House had the same attitude when he went amongst the needy

Thomas Hood, Tylney Hall & Multicultural Wanstead

Overview of Thomas Hood & Wanstead

Review of Tylney Hall | Finding Wanstead in Tylney Hall  | Black representation in Tylney Hall

 thomas-hood-5

Thomas Hood (1799-1845) is a shamefully overlooked 19th century literary great – for whom a renaissance must surely beckon. His obscurity is all the more surprising when we consider how immensely popular he was throughout the Victorian era. Try Googling him and you will find scant reward. During his own short lifetime Hood overcame debilitating illness and grinding poverty to become a national treasure. He contributed humorous articles to popular magazines such as Athenaeum and Punch & also single-handedly ran his own magazine The Comic Annual (1830-42). He wrote just one novel – Tylney Hall (1834) – which I will be discussing in this blog, but poetry was his real forte.

sonnet to vauxhall

Hood’s Sonnet to Vauxhall – illustrated by Rowlandson

Hood’s output was created at great cost to his health. In his early days he was a talented engraver working alongside artists such as Thomas Rowlandson (a man with whom he later often collaborated), but was compelled to abandon this profession and seek an outdoor life to recover his strength. It was a tough existence for by 1841 when Hood became an invalid he was only saved from financial ruin thanks to the intervention of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, who was a great fan of his works. When Hood eventually died his family were granted a state pension – and the public continued to adore him. A memorial was later built by public subscription in Kensal Green cemetery. As the century progressed Hood’s poetry and witticisms remained familiar enough to be often quoted in ordinary conversation. As late as 1903 William Rossetti (of Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood fame) described Hood as ‘the finest English poet between the generations of Shelley and Tennyson’. However, since these heady heights of appreciation Hood has quietly slipped into obscurity, and has long-since vanished from the modern-day English literature curriculum.

 lakehouse

Hood wrote Tylney Hall whilst living in Wanstead Park

Yet one bastion of recognition for Thomas Hood still remains intact, and it can be located in the environs of Epping Forest, and most particularly Wanstead. After his marriage in 1824 Hood lived in Islington but made frequent visits to the countryside beyond London,  especially to Epping Forest, and he formed a deep affinity with the area. I have already described how Hood encapsulated the rough and tumble tradition of the Epping Hunt (1829), recording for posterity the rituals of that annual cockney jamboree. He was also fully cognisant of the scandalous loss of Wanstead House, ironically benefitting from its destruction by renting the Lake House in Wanstead Park from ‘Wicked’ William Long-Wellesley.

wickedwilliam

 

Wicked William – Hood’s shady landlord (1832-35)

Hood’s arrival in Wanstead in 1832 coincided with Wicked William’s enforced exile – so it is unlikely that landlord and tenant spent much time together. Though he was always a feckless waster, William was notoriously generous and probably offered Hood terms well below the market rate. Perhaps Long-Wellesley’s vanity was sated by Hood’s eulogy to the Epping Hunt – because the men were already acquainted. This unlikely friendship endured, for it is recorded that William regularly visited Hood’s sickbed in 1837, when both men were living in Belgium.

eppinghunt-1

This scene from The Epping Hunt  shows Hood preferred whimsy to satire

Hood was active during a time of great social and technological change – as the long 18th century drew to a close and young Queen Victoria assumed the throne. From the outset of his career Hood purposefully rejected the brutality of late Georgian satire which sought to undermine its subject, preferring to adopt a kinder and more affectionate style. His whimsical humour presaged the rising sense of decency and respectability throughout society, foreshadowing the sentimentality and mawkishness which defined popular Victorian literature. Hood’s style is very like Thackeray’s early writing, light-hearted and amusing – never over-analytical.

Despite his comic reputation, Hood was capable of portraying the biting hardship of contemporary poverty. For example, Song of the Shirt (1843) highlighted appalling working conditions of the era – where Hood showed remarkable foresight in writing from a female perspective – describing a needleworker’s daily struggle for existence and the cruelty of her employer

song of the shirt

Despite being penned by a man, Song of the Shirt ought to be considered one of the most important proto-feminist works of literature ever written. It was based on a contemporary court case involving a woman who was forced to sell her employer’s equipment simply to put food upon the table – a decision that led to prosecution. The case is long forgotten but this poem became a standard-bearer for highlighting the effect of inequality upon humanity, inspiring a generation of mid-Victorian artists

bridge of sighs

Opening stanzas of Bridge of Sighs 

Another poem Bridge of Sighs (1844) again draws on real life by recounting the tale of a homeless young woman who committed suicide by throwing herself from Waterloo Bridge in London – At a time when suicide was frowned upon Hood declares that whatever sins she may have committed are cleansed by the sadness of her death

 found drowned

Hood’s poem inspired Found Drowned by Frederick Watts (1852)

Were it not for Hood’s own untimely demise he may have further developed his talent for social commentary. But in death as in life Hood has been unlucky, for the gentle observational humour of his earlier years has become his posthumous trademark.

grave

I will be turning to Hood’s only novel Tylney Hall in the second part of this blog. Written in 1834, whilst he was living in Wanstead, the title is a very thinly veiled reference to Long-Wellesley’s once great mansion, Wanstead House. But attempting to cash in on Wicked William’s story was an unwise move because it raised expectations that Tylney Hall would reveal the truth about Wanstead House, and satisfy public curiosity as to why it was demolished. – This led to criticism and affected sales, forcing Hood to add a note in the preface explaining that ‘Tylney Hall’ alluded to the topography of Wanstead Park, but not its disreputable owner.

wansteadcolour

Tylney Hall – not about Wanstead House

It is easy to see why a desperately poor artist with young mouths to feed would use any means possible to promote his work. But by choosing ‘Tylney Hall’ for a title Hood inadvertently and fatally undermined his novel – by unnecessarily calling into question the accuracy of its content.

Easter Monday 1817 by Henry Thomas Aitken

Tylney Hall does show Wanstead as it was to Thomas Hood

Because Hood’s works were always inspired by his own life experiences I believe that the world created in the pages of Tylney Hall should not be rejected, as we are offered a tantalising and surprising viewpoint of life in multicultural Wanstead 200 years ago. Additionally we find perhaps the first English novel to centrally feature strong and noble black characters, to whom we can sympathise and relate. The second part of this study will examine this more closely, proving that that Hood really was ahead of his time thus worthy of a new and more fitting appraisal.

To read more of Thomas Hood’s poems click here – or try a tasty selection of his best quotes

Gerald Massey has an excellent website devoted to Thomas Hood

You may also like to read about more Epping Hunt related buffoonery courtesy of Wicked William or to know about his short-lived military career.

Rushout’s Wanstead 1824-1832

Anne Rushout | Rushout’s Wanstead | Rushout on Tour

Anne Rushout was a friend of Catherine Tylney-Long, the heiress of Wanstead House. Click here to pre-order Geraldine Roberts’ book Angel and The Cad, which is based on our research, to be published by Pan MacMillan in June 2015

Here are some images of Wanstead, painted by Lady Anne Rushout

wansteadgrove3

Wanstead Grove c.1829 from the long ornamental lake

 

wanstead grove temple view

Looking down towards the Temple – which now stands in a garden in Grove Road

 

Wanstead Grove Panorama

Panorama of rear of Wanstead Grove and the Temple

 

Wanstead Grove Gazebo

Gazebo in grounds of Wanstead Grove c.1829

 

Wanstead Grove 1825

Front elevation of Wanstead Grove

 

Wanstead Grove  West - rear1825

Delightful rural setting to rear of Wanstead Grove

 

rear of Grove Cottage

Rear of Grove Cottage – once stood at of junction Nutter Lane/Leicester Road

 

Grove cottage 1825

Grove Cottage…. beautiful

 

From portico of Wanstead Grove 1825

View from the portico of Wanstead Grove – towards George Lane

 

from flower garden wanstead grove

c.1829 Flower Garden on Grove Estate

 

Mr Monk Cottage Wanstead May 1829

Mr Monk’s Cottage, Wanstead – I wonder where this was?

 

Nightingale Place 1829

Nightingale Place (1829) – Curve of Nightingale Lane towards the pub already evident

 

Lodge at Wanstead Grove 1828

The Lodge at Wanstead Grove – front part of which may still survive in resident’s back garden

 

From dining room at Wanstead Grove

Not a bad view from Lady Anne’s dining room at Wanstead Grove

 

flower garden wanstead grove

Another view of the flower garden Wanstead Grove

 

Cottage near Snaresbrook

‘Cottage near Snaresbrook’ c 1829

 

All images courtesy of Yale University – Accessed on line November 8th 2014

If you are interested in tales of Wanstead you might like to read about Wicked William’s Hunt – part 4 of a brief history of the Epping Hunt

 

 

Lady Anne Rushout – Wanstead’s Forgotten Artist

Anne Rushout | Rushout’s Wanstead | Rushout on Tour

Rushoutpic1

Lady Anne Rushout (1768-1849)

Modern day Wanstead likes to give a nod and a wink to former local citizens who have played a role in shaping its history. We know all about statesmen Winston Churchill and Sir William Penn, of Sheridan the playwright and of course ‘Wicked’ William Wellesley. But curiously, Wanstead seems distinctly reluctant to celebrate its feminine connections – For example Wikipedia’s ‘notable residents’ of Wanstead list rather embarrassingly contains just one woman, soap-star Jesse Wallace, listed on the basis that she once lived the area!

The most undeservingly neglected lady in Wanstead’s history must be Lady Anne Rushout, who lived at Wanstead Grove from 1817-49.

Plimer 3 graces - Anne on Right 1809

Anne (left), with Harriet (centre) & Elizabeth (right)

Anne was the eldest daughter of John Rushout, Baron Northwick of Northwick Park (1738-1800) and spent a happy childhood with sisters Harriet (c.1770) and Elizabeth (1774). She was well educated: a keen artist, botanist, diarist and poet, celebrated for her grace and beauty. Yet she was not a conventional young woman, & refused to comply with the male-dominated society in which she lived.

ladies of llangollen

The Ladies of Llangollen – a bluestocking shrine

From a very early age Anne was interested in bluestocking literature, making several trips to Wales to visit the famous Ladies of Llangollen, and keeping a commonplace book filled with feminist prose. It is not known if Anne was lesbian, as her family attributed her strong aversion to marriage to the unfortunate death of her fiancé days before their wedding. I have searched the archives without success to corroborate this claim. But it seems likely that Anne came from a very liberal-minded and supportive family, who propagated this story to protect her reputation.

Wanstead Grove 1825

Wanstead Grove – designed and built by Anne Rushout

In 1817 Anne’s uncle George Bowles died, and she inherited Wanstead Grove. Originally purchased in 1759 by Humphry Bowles, it came with approximately 60 acres named the Grove Estate. It was rare for assets to pass to a female relative at this time, and more unusual still that Anne decided to demolished the house, sell off its ‘out-dated’ works of art, and construct a new magnificent mansion in its place.

Wanstead Grove was built between 1818 and 1824. As its completion coincided with the demolition of Wanstead House, it is likely that various fixtures and fittings sold to satisfy Wicked William’s creditors were snapped up by Anne to augment her new home. In fact Anne bought the very first item offered at the Wanstead House auction in 1822, attending most days afterwards – to pick and choose art and furnishings according to her taste.

In effect therefore, when Wanstead lost a behemoth of a mansion, it gained a successor at Wanstead Grove – which became the single most dominant property in the area. More importantly, Wanstead Grove and its beautifully laid out grounds were completely Anne’s creation – thus demonstrating that women were perfectly capable of operating in the hitherto exclusively male sphere of architecture and design.

Anne spent a great deal of her life at Wanstead Grove and was very much part of local society. Far from being reclusive she was always very charitable, leaving significant bequest to the poor of Wanstead after her death in 1849.

Wanstead Grove is long gone now, having been demolished in 1889 to make way for the Counties Estate. Some remnants of the formal gardens remain, such as the Temple (which once stood at the edge of a picturesque lake) and can be seen annually on Open House Day

But the real legacy Anne Rushout has left Wanstead can be seen in three volumes of drawings she made between 1824-1832, which can be found in the British Art collection at Yale University. She records a splendidly rural and naturally beautiful Wanstead at the end of the Regency era. All of these images are freely searchable over the internet, but I have decided to collate them together in two sections covering Wanstead, and further afield.

Disappointingly, Yale University describes Lady Anne as an ‘amateur artist’. This can only be because she was a woman, for it seems to me that her output and quality of work merits far more than label of a ‘hobby’. I hope that Yale and the people of Wanstead will reassess Lady Anne Rushout as an important proto-feminist, writer, and artist – worthy of full recognition and respect.

Further Information

Frustratingly for historians, Anne Rushout’s diaries covering 1791-1827 have been missing since the 1950s. As a frequent visitor to Wanstead House during Wicked William’s era of extravagance, she could have provided some valuable insight into what went on behind closed doors.

However, Anne’s journals 1828-1849 are in the possession of Senate House Library in London & her ‘commonplace book’ for the period 1776-1832, which is an extensive scrapbook of ephemera and jottings about fashionable life, can also be found at Yale University.

An excellent on-line history of Wanstead Grove complete with images of the Temple can be found here.

The Counties Resident Association has produced a great history of the Grove Estate

Kelly McDonald has written about Anne Rushout’s connection with Bersted Lodge

Tally Ho! – A Brief History of The Epping Hunt Part 4 – Wicked William’s Hunt

Tally Ho! A Brief History of the Epping Hunt

Introduction | Origins | The Cockney Hunt | Wicked William’s Hunt | A Fond Farewell

Chav-Man Cometh – Wicked William’s Hunt, 1813

wansteadcolour

Wanstead House – Catherine Tylney-Long’s pièce de résistance

Wanstead House first came under ‘Wicked’ William Long-Wellesley’s control upon his marriage to Catherine Tylney-Long in March 1812. Miss Tylney-Long, of Draycot House in Wiltshire, was universally recognised as richest heiress in the realm. Wanstead House – a magnificent Palladian Mansion on the edge of Epping Forest, just 10 miles from London – was the crown jewel of her vast landed estate. Catherine’s intention to reside at Wanstead was clear from the outset, for she served notice on her French Royal tenants within weeks of coming of age. Thereafter Catherine presided over a programme of refurbishment to revitalise the mansion, and she used it extensively throughout 1811 – hosting a series of showpiece events attended by a myriad of suitors eager to win her hand, (and more importantly her purse).

wickedwilliam

1st prize went to ‘Wicked’ William Wellesley-Pole (1788-1857) Booo!!!

After a chase worthy of the Epping Hunt, William emerged victorious from the pack when Catherine accepted his proposal in the autumn of 1811. Shortly before their marriage William added his wife’s name to his own and some – to form the ludicrously quadruple-barrelled new surname ‘Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley’. Not surprisingly this was soon abbreviated to Long-Wellesley by his friends, but rather pointedly to ‘Long’ by his Wanstead neighbours who rightly emphasised the surname he ought to have adopted when marrying into Catherine’s estate. An extract this contemporary ditty shows that William’s accession to Wanstead House was less than enthusiastically received.

LONG a tyrant, his neighbours presumed to annoy,

Their vexation and grief were his comfort and joy,

His greatest delight was to do others wrong

Till the people at length cried, “We won’t stand this LONG!”

 

From the outset the newlyweds craved acceptance from London’s fashionable elite. William believed Wanstead House could ignite his political career, enabling him to join his renowned Wellesley family relatives, whose power and influence was widely recognised. [See footnote below]

A few weeks after his marriage, and quite by chance, William discovered his hereditary entitlement to the role of Lord Warden of Epping Forest. This was an unlucky day for Essex because William’s assertion of the long-dormant Wardenship had a profound long-term affect on Epping Forest, for it shrank in size by over 5000 acres under his watch. But those years of destruction and land-grab came much later in William’s wreckless saga.

Because William believed he could never possibly spend the vast pile of cash he now possessed, his initially used the Wardenship for egotistical purposes. When he closed Wanstead Park to the public in the summer of 1812 there was a huge public outcry. Instead of negotiating with his neighbours, William reminded them that Lord Wardenship gave him powers to ‘appoint or sack forest officials’ thus sending an intimidating message to farmers and tradesmen alike – and anyone else dependent on his patronage. Despite this tangible threat to their livelihoods the people of Wanstead refused to be cowed, winning a landmark case in March 1813 – whereby the ancient rights of way were restored and William forced to reopen Wanstead Park. William lost the case because he did not appreciate the long-standing ties between Wanstead House, Epping Forest and its people, instead resorting to a crude attempt to bulldoze tradition purely for his own gain.

Easter Monday 1817 by Henry Thomas Aitken

 The Epping Hunt in ‘Wicked’ William’s day

The Lord Wardenship provided William with a second opportunity to flex his muscles, this time via spectacular gesture– a publicity stunt to convince rich and poor alike that he was worthy of admiration and respect. Yes, he decided to revive the Epping Hunt!  After all, what better way could there be to promote his equestrian prowess, style and up-to-the-minute fashion sense? This was a golden chance to be admired and envied, winning over his doubters in one fell swoop.

The problem was that William once again failed to do his homework, not realising the extent which the Epping Hunt had declined as a spectacle. William may have known the City of London abandoned the Common Hunt in 1807. In fact the Lord Mayor’s appearance at Buckhurst Hill had long-since been superseded by a new Easter Monday ‘tradition’ whereby the Lord Mayor and his retinue proceeded from Mansion House to Christchurch (Newgate) & heard the Spital sermon. But aldermen and stuffy City dignitaries held no interest for William. He wanted members of the beau monde, dandies, playboys and gadabouts – and intended to spend lavishly to ensure their attendance.

dandy club

William’s target audience was the fashionable London elite

Realising that a pack of hounds was an essential requisite of the Epping Hunt, William ordered the construction of new kennels on his land near the Eagle in Snaresbrook (then known as the Spread Eagle, now as the Toby Carvery). Instead of relying on foxhounds, William purchased a pack of stag-hounds especially bred for deer-hunting. At that time only the Prince Regent kept stag-hounds, and he only had a couple because of the enormous expense in acquiring them. William’s investment in a whole pack of hounds necessitated his appointment of Tommy Rounding, a widely respected local man fondly described as ‘father of the Hunt’. As far as adherence to tradition and quality of event, this was a promising start.

snaresbrook house

Modern-day Snaresbrook House stands on the site of William’s kennels

For the day in question William’s men were decked out in coats of Lincoln green with high-top boots. As for William, he was described in Bailey’s Magazine as

faultless alike in dress and symmetry, and style…With his spotless white waistcoat… and the ample tie of dark silk, perfectly adjusted and in true keeping with his dark coat.. [William] was the embodied perfection of a man of fashion, and carried his dress with that easy determination of style which is peculiar to high birth and high breeding.

One newspaper reported the sequence of events:

An uncommonly numerous assemblage of genteel company attended the Epping Easter Hunt this year. Those in carriages were chiefly of the first classes of Nobility and Gentry, and the horsemen in general capitally mounted. Mr. Pole Wellesley, of Wanstead House, having his stag-hunting establishment in this district, he is become patron of the Easter Hunt, and sent a deer to be turned out before the company. He was present on his famous chestnut horse. His Lady, Mrs. Long- Wellesley, was there also –she came in an open carriage, drawn by four greys, and two postillions with out-riders &c.; and with her company, took her station in an apartment for her at the Rein Deer, before the stag was turned out. It ran for about two hours, and was afterwards lost.

 

Elsewhere it was reported that while out with the hounds William scattered money freely among the village folk. He was said to have flung dozens of gold sovereigns into the throngs of spectators waiting outside the kennels upon his return. He then footed the bill for an enormous feast for participating huntsmen at the Eagle, and brought his more select guests back to Wanstead House for further hospitality and entertainment.

sovereigns

Sovereigns were thrown to bystanders at the kennels and the surrounding fields

 

As an event William Long-Wellesley’s Epping Hunt lived long in the memory and did a great deal to restore his reputation locally. But such wild and reckless flinging of sovereigns around the distressed community was more the act of a show-off than of somebody genuinely concerned for his tenants or the attending peasantry. Also his decision to begin the Hunt from the Rein Deer in complement to Mrs Long-Wellesley was reported to have caused ‘great mortification amongst numerous ladies and others in carriages arranged on the brow of the hill near the Roebuck, the customary place of turning out.’ This may have been a faux pas too far for William as it showed that spending prodigiously does not guarantee guest satisfaction.

the eagle

The Eagle at Snaresbrook – where being treated to a meal once really meant something

 

Perhaps the most telling thing about the whole event is that within a few weeks after the Epping Hunt it was announced that William Long-Wellesley intended ‘to give up his hunting establishment entirely’ and place the hunters, stag-hounds &c up for sale. This more than anything proves that Wicked William had no long-term intentions regarding the Epping Hunt. He just wanted to make a gesture, & boy did he waste a colossal sum in doing so.

I’d like to say that lessons were learnt, but I’m afraid we all know that the spending continued and that this crazy hedonistic occasion was merely the first warning that Wanstead House’s days were numbered. It is important to clarify that William continued to hunt regularly in Epping Forest during his tenure of Wanstead House, but this was by invitation only and nothing to do with the ‘Common Hunt’ which he turned his back on..

Wicked William was powerless to stop a few feeble re-runs of the Epping Hunt in the years to 1820, though perhaps his only permanent contribution to Hunt tradition was to make the Eagle pub at Snaresbrook the primary meeting place for a strange new breed of cockney visitors on Easter Monday for many years to come

hobbies in an uproar

 

It is hard to believe that the famous cycle meet at the Eagle, which was still going strong in the 1940s, could be traced back to ‘Wicked’ William’s days at Wanstead House, and that it evolved to replace the Epping Hunt as a regular feature of the annual calendar. As London became more urbanised, the ‘cockney’ desire to master horsemanship declined, and the age of machines accelerated their separation from country-dwellers

So by the 1820s with Wicked William in exile, Wanstead house torn down and the onset of the steam age – the Epping Hunt was not only dead, but there were no mourners in attendance. Or were there? Enter one Thomas Hood…

 

Footnotes:

[1]

At the time of his marriage, Marquess Wellesley (an uncle) had just resigned as Foreign Secretary in order to challenge Spencer Perceval’s for Prime Minister, Wellesley-Pole (his father) was Secretary of State for Ireland, and Lord Wellington (an uncle) was in the Peninsular leading the British forces against Napoleon.

Tally Ho! A Brief History of the Epping Hunt – Part 1 Introduction

Introduction | Origins | The ‘Cockney Hunt’ | Wicked William’s Hunt | A Fond Farewell

Introduction to the Epping Hunt

Believe it or not, there was a time when country-folk from Buckhurst Hill, Loughton and Woodford found themselves inundated with Cockneys, but it was only for one day annually. That day was Easter Monday and the occasion was the Epping Hunt. It is more than a little ironic that an area nowadays considered the epicentre of ‘cockneyism’ (thanks to TV shows like TOWIE) should have once gaped and sniggered at the ‘Oh Gaw Blimey’ accents and godawful clothing worn by these town-dwelling visitors, who were exercising an ancient right granted to the City of London – allowing ordinary citizens one day’s hunting in Epping Forest.

eppinghunt wolstenhome

The Essex Hunt, near Epping by Dean Wolstenhome (1757-1837)

Throughout the 1700s Easter Monday provided ordinary Londoners with three options for holiday entertainment. Firstly there was a fair at Greenwich Hill where there were organised picnics where excellent ginger bread and other delightful treats on offer, and you could enter the prestigious ‘rolling down the hill’ competition and win a prize. This tame sounding pastime was undoubtedly a rough and tumble affair taken seriously by the competitors. For those hedging their bets against inclement weather, a second option was Sadlers Wells, which offered performances of new musicals and pantomimes throughout the day[i].

But for sportsmen and spectators alike, there was nothing to beat the Epping Hunt, whose rituals embraced the entire community from the heart of London’s metropolis into the Essex countryside. First established during the reign of Henry III in 1226, the Epping Hunt was more than just a chase. It began with an early morning breakfast near the Tower of London, followed by a 10-mile procession from London, through Mile End, Stratford and Wanstead. Along the way new participants swelled its ranks until they all arrived at either the Roebuck or Bald Faced Stag Inns in Buckets Hill (nowadays Buckhurst Hill), where the stag was traditionally turned out. The finest carriages from London and the surrounding area occupied prime positions on the hill, attended upon by a myriad of food and drink vendors. Whilst the men saddled up and joined the hunt, the ladies had ample opportunity to display their fashionable attire –  enjoying music, promenading and engaging in gossip.

At a typical Epping Hunt thousands of ordinary folk lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the noble elite, or manned stalls selling a variety of produce to the visiting hordes. This undoubtedly proved a massive boost to the local economy proving that it really was an occasion to remember.

Over these next four blogs I will examine the history and traditions of the Epping Hunt and add links between each blogs as and when they are posted:

  1. Origins and Establishment of Tradition (1226-1750) – Here I will look at how Epping Hunt was established as an aristocratic event under the patronage of the Lord Mayor of London, alongside the Lord Warden of Epping Forest.

 

  1. Gor‘ Blimey Mate!! (1750-1810) – By 1787 Epping Hunt was generally regarded as the ‘Cockney Hunt’ because its participants were increasingly drawn from London’s merchant classes. In this period there was the tremendous comedy value of watching a collection of badly-dressed city-folk chase about the forest in the fruitless pursuit of their goal. Not surprisingly the Epping Hunt became an object of public ridicule and by 1810 the consensus was that it would soon die a natural death – a relic of a bygone age.

 

  1. Wicked William’s Hunt (1813) – In 1813 William Long-Wellesley of Wanstead House hosted an extremely extravagant event, reckoned to be the most lavish ever –  in an incredible attempt to restore tradition and quality to the Epping Hunt. I will look at the day in question plus the ramifications it had for the future of Wanstead House.

 

  1. A Fond Farewell (1820-1850s) – More than any one person Thomas Hood is responsible for restoring the Epping Hunt in a positive way for future generations to recall. His eponymous poem (1828) served as a gentle reminder of the mirth and pleasure to be had on such an occasion, whilst at the same time acknowledging its inevitable demise.

 

eppinghunt-4

One of Rowlandson’s plates from Thomas Hood’s The Epping Hunt poem (1828)

 

The Epping Hunt might be best remembered by this quote taken from Hunting in the Olden Days by William Scarth Dixon, which was published in 1912:

It was one of the ironies of Fate that the Epping Hunt should be chiefly remembered [in caricature]…For the Epping Hunt was the common hunt of the City of London, and as such its rights were jealously guarded. It was the most important of those city hunts of which we have had so many in England…. So though the Epping Hunt outlived its usefulness… let us look kindly on those good city sportsmen of a bygone age. Let us remember that they helped to foster the general love and admiration of sport without which, I make bold to say, hunting would have been seriously curtailed in our day, if not abolished altogether.

 

 

[i] Perhaps the most enduringly popular Easter Monday performance at Sadlers Wells was in fact entitled The Epping Hunt – which was put on by popular demand for a great many years. So, whether you went in person or witnessed a hilarious reproduction at Sadlers Wells, the Epping Hunt was a pivotal component in the Easter calendar for Londoners.

 

 

Wicked William – The Last Word

“This is not an epitaph”

wickedwilliam

 

‘Wicked’ William Long-Wellesley (1788-1857) was one of the best-known characters of the Regency period. His rollercoaster life played out like a primordial soap opera through a multitude of satirical images, newspaper reports, books, pamphlets, and journals. His antics were commented upon throughout the world. When he was at his most arrogant, the mob cornered him in the street baying for blood. Yet when he was beaten down they rallied to his defence. Eventually debts and a failed political career forced him into exile. He remained in the news but the public tired of him. He had come to epitomise the worst excesses of a corrupt and unloved era, whose values were an anathema to early Victorian society. From the 1840s Long-Wellesley was consciously marginalised, his removal from contemporary memoirs the equivalent of a literary ‘social cut’.

My blog will show that Long-Wellesley directly contributed to his own notoriety in his pursuit of celebrity. For three decades he adeptly harnessed the power of the press to his own advantage, feeding newspapers tantalising details that kept the public enthralled.

But, as we all know, public opinion and press sympathy can easily change. Therefore with no little irony these last words about ‘Wicked William’ appeared in the Morning Chronicle the day after his death (4th July 1857):

The mockery of heraldry was never more displayed than in the case of this most unworthy representative of the honour of the elder house of Wellesley. A spendthrift, a profligate, and gambler in his youth, he became a debauchee in his manhood [and] his children, whose early tastes and morals he wickedly endeavoured to corrupt, from a malicious desire to add to the agonies of their desolate and broken-hearted mother. Redeemed by no single virtue – adorned by no single grace – his life has gone out, without even a flicker of repentance – his “retirement” was that of one who was deservedly avoided by all men. We have no wish, further, to illustrate such a theme by writing what should be his epitaph.

Luckily for me, so many outrageous events from the scandalous life and times of ‘Wicked William’ were recorded for posterity, that I will have ample opportunity of detailing them over time via this forum.

‘Wicked William’ Long-Wellesley

wickedwilliam

My Ph.D research encapsulates the life and times of William Long-Wellesley (1788-1857), whose epitaph declared him ‘redeemed by no single grace, adorned by no single virtue’. The purpose of this blog is to provide updates regarding William’s scandalous life and anything relating to Wanstead House, the magnificent Palladian mansion his actions destroyed. I will also be posting on other subjects relevant to the period, with a dedicated section on Lady Mary Bagot, who was ‘Wicked William’s older sister. You can find me on Twitter at @D_Profundis for Wicked William/Wanstead House and @Mary_Bagot for Lady Bagot.

You might also like Geraldine Roberts’ @_GerryRoberts – Geraldine has knocked all this Wanstead House research into a thoroughly readable format in her critically acclaimed book ‘The Angel and the Cad’ – which is a rattling good story which never loses sight of the facts, regarding the final years of Wanstead House.