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the landscape

1  A Gazetteer of Sites in Essex Associated with Humphry Repton, edited by Fiona Cowell and Georgina Green

Either side of Lea Bridge Road was grass in 1800 2.  From Whipps Cross south and west were the extensive parklands of Forest and Knotts Green Houses.  Leyton Grange on one section of Church Road and Leyton House on the other looking along Capworth Street each had their parkland grounds.  South of Church Road along both banks of the Fillebrook and down to the boundary with West Ham (including the Wanstead Slip) the fields were mainly under crops.  There must have been a great need for stockproof hedges and fencing to keep the animals into paddock fields and out of crops.

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The grounds of Leyton Grange and Ruckholt had been impressively landscaped with formal gardens and straight avenues of trees.  As the 18th century progressed, and into the 19th, it became fashionable to admire the opposites : the awe-inspiring mountains and sheer drops of the ‘sublime’, thick, tangled woods and twisting streams, unexpected wild flowers.  At this time the trees of Epping Forest were cut back on a rotational basis and could not provide the scenery free from human intervention which was sought out.  Leyton was not immediately abandoned by the wealthy.  Large houses could be surrounded with the semi-natural, curving mixture of grass, shrubs and trees that became popular.  The leading landscape consultant Humphry Repton gave advice on the rebuilding of Walwood House about 1816 1.  Leytonstone House was given a pair of semi-circular bay extensions comparable to those at Valentines Mansion near Ilford and Water House in Walthamstow (later to become the William Morris Gallery).

2  Land use map by Thomas Milne.

1793 (execution of Louis XVI of France)
to 1837 (start of Queen Victoria’s reign)