The Birch Well is situated on Leyton Flats in a Birch Wood near to the boundary fence of Snaresbrook Crown Court. It is not far from the Eagle Pond, and is now a stone-edged pool about 1.5 metres long and somewhat oval in shape.
Though apparently little known and easily overlooked now, it was once perhaps the most important of the public wells that supplied Wanstead with its drinking water. Most of these have been long forgotten, though there are still some remnants of the private wells that the more wealthy inhabitants of the village once used.
Birch Well was used for drinking water only - it was once said by an elderly inhabitant of the area that "no water was ever as fresh, cool, sparkling and reviving as that which was drawn from Wanstead's well."
When in use, it was apparently in the form of something of a large square gravel pit with wooden steps and stagings, with a bucket and a barrel. Even after the well was given a brick surround, there was still at least one drowning attributed to the site!
People who lived outside of the parish boundary also used the well, but they were charged at the rate of a penny for three buckets or 1/6d for a buttful.
(This information derived from "Wanstead through the ages" by Winifred Eastment, Dawn Press, 1946)