Aldersbrook Wood and its Plants

 Just to the east end of the Edwardian Aldersbrook estate, and between the 1970s housing and Perch Pond in Wanstead Park, is a small patch of woodland which I have called Aldersbrook Wood. This woodland is part-occupied by a wooden building belonging to the Woodford District Horticultural Society, but otherwise is a somewhat scruffy area, prone to litter and rubbish deposits, but which could be an attractive area for wildlife and people in the Wanstead Park and Aldersbrook area. It forms a valuable buffer between housing development and Wanstead Park. As so much "buffer-land" is associated with Epping Forest in its northern reaches, is it not even more important that these buffers are available in the south, where housing presses even closer to the Forest?

Aldersbrook Wood

There is a gated access road from the east end of Northumberland Avenue, by which is an isolated two-story house with a more modern vintage than the Edwardian estate, but older than the 1970s development nearby. The aspect presents a somewhat rural feel to the neighbourhood, with the forest-land of Wanstead Park immediately beyond the fence to the north. The fence - an open construction about 4ft high - divides the forest from the woodland, but brambles and other plants may easily find their way through. Part way along is an un-gated access between the two, leading from the park-lands across the wood and out through an unpleasantly narrow gap between high metal fences into the new Aldersbrook estate. It is such a shame that this piece of land is not managed as part of Epping Forest so that its untidy aspect might be controlled. Nevertheless, it has a variety of plants, and is certainly the home to foxes which doubtless find cover in some of the brick and concrete remains of buildings which once stood on the site and now lie partially covered with vegetation. At its eastern end, and partially to the south, lie the grounds of Aldersbrook Riding School and Livery Stables.

Aldersbrook Wood in 2002

The area was known to have been the grounds of an isolation hospital, the Wanstead U.D. Fever Hospital. This isolation hospital was built by Wanstead Local Board of Health in Empress Avenue, Aldersbrook in 1893, and was administered by Wanstead U.D.C. from 1894. When Wanstead and Woodford urban districts were amalgamated in 1934 and Wanstead joined Waltham Joint Hospital Board, control of the hospital passed to the Board. The hospital was closed in March 1936 (source: Essex Record Office. A/HW7).

There was a government command post on part of the site: a "war room" and "sub-regional commissioner's offices" known as the London Group Control, Wanstead. This was built after the re-emergence of civil defence from the 1950's, and related to the cold war. This was demolished in 2000 and replaced by houses. (photo)

Historically, the association with the Wanstead House Estate might be worthy of investigation.

 

A list of plants found in Aldersbrook Wood

Below is a list of plants found in Aldersbrook Wood. It is a simple list, as no extensive study has been made of the area. Most of the records date back to the early 1980's.

The sequence of plants in the list follows the order and nomenclature of Stace 2nd Edition (1997), and the page numbers which refer to a particular species are indicated by 'Stace'

107 Species

Stace

Scientific Name

Common Name

Date recorded

45

Pinus nigra ssp. laricio

Corsican Pine

14.4.80; 12.04.11

88

Ranunculus repens

Creeping Buttercup

14.4.80

91

Ranunculus ficaria

Lesser Celandine

14.4.80

101

Mahonia aquifolium

Oregon Grape

14.4.80; 12.04.11

111

Platanus x hispanica

London Plane

14.4.80; 12.04.11

117

Urtica dioica

Nettle

14.4.80; 12.04.11

120

Fagus sylvatica

Beech

14.4.80

123

Quercus robur

English Oak

14.4.80

124

Betula pendula

Silver Birch

14.4.80

162

Stellaria media

Common Chickweed

14.4.80

177

Silene dioica

Red Campion

14.4.80

176

Silene latifolia

White Campion

14.4.80

195

Rumex obtusifolius

Broad-Leaved Dock

14.4.80

212

Malva sylvestris

Mallow

14.4.80

227

Populus nigra "Italica"

Lombardy Poplar

14.4.80; 26.12.08

250

Sisymbrium officinale

Hedge Mustard

14.4.80

267

Capsella bursa-pastoris

Shepherd's Purse

14.4.80

335

Rubus fruticosus agg.

Bramble

14.4.80; 12.04.11

397

Crataegus monogyna

Hawthorn

14.4.80

435

Sarothamnus scoparius

Broom

14.4.80

456

Ilex aquifolium

Holly

14.4.80

468

Aesculus hippocastanum

Horse Chestnut

14.4.80

470

Acer pseudoplatanus

Sycamore

14.4.80

490

Hedera helix

Ivy

14.4.80

559

Ballota nigra ssp. foetida

Black Horehound

14.4.80

560

Lamium album

White Dead-nettle

14.4.80; 12.04.11

562

Lamium purpureum

Red Dead-Nettle

14.4.80

586

Fraxinus excelsior

Ash

14.4.80

587

Ligustrum ovalifolium

Privet

14.4.80

605

Veronica hederifolia

Ivy Speedwell

14.4.80

649

Galium aparine

Cleavers

14.4.80

651

Sambucus nigra

Elder

14.4.80

676

Cirsium vulgare

Spear Thistle

14.4.80

678

Cirsium arvense

Creeping Thistle

14.4.80

698

Taraxacum officinale

Dandelion

14.4.80

729

Artemisia vulgaris

Mugwort

14.4.80

740

Senecio vulgaris

Groundsel

14.4.80

740

Senecio squalidus

Oxford Ragwort

14.4.80

740

Poa annua

Annual Meadow Grass

14.4.80

934

Endymion sp.

Bluebell

14.4.80; 12.04.11

948

Narcissus spp.

Hybrid Daffodil

14.4.80; 12.04.11