London/Essex border - Claybury Hospital site

The London/ Redbridge /Essex boundary goes east across the drive to the hospital from Manor Road. And goes south east along the northern boundary of the site and then crosses Tomswood Road. It then turns north east to run south of Bracken Drive.
TQ 42922 91332

New housing on the site of a vast old mental hospital dramatically sited among hill top woodland

Post to the west Woodford Bridge
Post to the north Chigwell
Post to the east Hainault
Site to the south Claybury

Sites on the London, Redbridge, side of the boundary

The land rises from the Thames to a height of about 230 ft. near Claybury
Marked thus on the Ordnance Survey map of 1883, earlier ‘Le Clayberye’ 1270, ‘Cleyberye’ 1566, from Old English. The area is now usually known as ‘Clay Hall’. Both names come from the de la Clay family. The original estate of Claybury was near Woodford Bridge and was owned by Barking Abbey. In 1401 the tenant was John Malmaynes and in 1652-it was held by Alderman John Fowke, Lord Mayor of London. Hester Goodere was farming here in 1669. In 1887 William J. Rous sold it to the Justices of the County of Middlesex, for a ‘lunatic asylum’ here. In 1889 it passed to the London County Council, which completed the buildings by 1893 and ran it until 1948, when the National Health Service transferred it to the North East Metropolitan Hospital Board. In the 13th Claybury was probably the same area which still paid tithes was tithes to Ilford Hospital in 1847. It had remained the same size in the 17th and 18th, but was extended in the early 19th. By 1847 it consisted of 440 acres. Including Tomswood Farm, woodlands and Tilekiln to the south.
Roman Road a road led from the River Lea crossing at Old Ford in a straight line through Chigwell, joining Stane Street at Dunmow. Roding Lane North lies on this route and it has been confoirmed that the Road passed through the Claybury estate
Claybury Wood . Nature reserve. Ancient woodland on the southern slopes of Tomswood Hill. It was probably an enclosed woodland made up of hornbeam coppice which has kept an interesting ground flora. It can be seen as a small remnant of Hainault Forest. Peripheral acid grassland areas contain some heather. There are a few Turkey oaks and conifers but most of the woodland trees are native with a canopy of hornbeam and oak plus wild service. In the woodland there are bluebells and wild garlic in the spring, as well as dog's mercury and wood anemone. Forster’s woodrush grows in the centre of the woods (identified by a local naturalist called Forster), as does butcher's broom. Birds include linnet, nuthatch and bullfinch and there is a population of several uncommon hoverflies, with one at its only known London site. Mammals include the rare yellow-necked mouse.

Culpeper Close
One of a large group of Tudor road names here

Manor Road.
Repton Park. Estate with three layers of history. The park belonged to Claybury Hall, which dates from c. 1790. Humphrey Repton advised on the grounds, one of his many jobs in the area around his home at Hare Street, Romford. He praises the 'profusely beautiful situation' in his Red Book. A century later it was developed for Claybury Asylum,
Stables became derelict and demolished in the 1960s. Car park on the area
Claybury Asylum. a mental hospital designed by G.T. Hine in 1887-8, originally for the county of Middlesex, but taken over by the newly formed London County Council. It was designed as a self sufficient community. It was built in 1890-3, on the flattened-out summit of the hill, north of the 18th house, which was used for private patients. The new buildings were on an echelon plan, the first of many such plans used for mental asylums. It was designed for 800 men and 1,200 women and was the first built for large numbers, although the sexes and types of patient were strictly segregated. It had its own laundry, farm and workshops, and was entirely lit by electricity. By the later 20th such institutions were out of fashion and it closed in 1996. The site was developed for housing by Crest Nicholson, 2000-3, converting some of the existing buildings and adding others.
The Manor. A range of apartments, laid out on a curve, by Ripley Homes, 2001.
Hospital. The echelon plan is still visible and had been respected by the new development, which has used many of the buildings. Originally it faced south approached by a perimeter road which ran from the entrance on Manor Road. The main access is now along a formal avenue on the site of the service buildings.
Water Tower. massive with Gothic detail at the top
Recreational Hall. Has a new entrance. This building reflects the late 19th concern at to provide amenities for mental patients. It is in a free Jacobean style, with panelling, a frieze, and a barrel-vaulted elliptical ceiling and plaster panels decorated with geometric panels. It has an ornate proscenium arch with a bust of Shakespeare above. A mezzanine for a gym has been inserted into part of the hall.
Chapel. Turned into a swimming pool. Red brick, with stone dressings. Decorated window tracery and a Side turret with stone spire.
Villas. The bay-windowed villas flanking the chapel were for the Medical Superintendent and Administration
Airing kiosks were provided for each ward and some remain in the new scheme
Apartments. Accommodation for the inmates has been converted to flats. They are in red brick clusters of three-storey blocks designed to provide mainly south facing rooms. The ends of each block have a tower. The lower blocks accommodated epileptic and chronic patients.
Private housing has been built along the centre tree-lined boulevard using similar materials to the original buildings but smartened by stuccoed ground floors. In the leafier outer areas are less formal groups.
Hospital Hill Wood. Mature oaks and black poplars. In many trees were planted when the estate was managed by the hospital. Sweet chestnut, red oak and Norway maple are non-native and Sweet chestnut develops a twisted bark as it ages, has large toothed leaves and produces an edible nut in the autumn. The hospital referred to in the name is the Ilford institution which took the income from the estate.
Ponds for drainage from a new housing development to the east of the park
Farm pond used by smooth newt and common frog as a breeding site.
Housing on the site of old farm buildings
Cocked Hat Plantation. This is a remnant section of a medieval lane – noire correctly named ‘Clayhooks’. The missing section was originally connected to Roding Lane, just south of the Woodford Avenue. There are the remains of a bank and ditch each side of the lane. There is a large oak on the boundary marked when the wood was divided between owners. There is the remains of an ancient hedgerow, the southern boundary to the wood and on the other side of the lane the bank typical of ancient lanes.
Main path is Repton’s Carriageway intended to the circular.
Orchard with a great variety of apples, pears and damsons and it is the last known breeding site of Turtle Doves at Claybury.

Nonsuch Close
One of a large group of Tudor road names here

Tower Close
One of a large group of Tudor road names here

Sites on the Essex side of the border

Stradbrooke Park Green

Lost Hospitals. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry. East London
Victoria County History,. Essex


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