Cattle in London?

These are English Longhorn cattle and they are grazing in a park in the suburb of London where I live. I am very lucky that during the Covid 19 I have been able to walk or cycle in the park. The cattle were recently introduced to eat some of the grasses that are not wanted and to encourage others that are. They are very gentle and don’t seem to mind the people coming to look at them.

They are in Wanstead Park. A very old estate that was once owned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. In 1578 Queen Elizabeth I spent 5 days at here Wanstead as his guest and Sir Philip Sydney wrote masque, The Queen of May, for the visit.

Wanstead House engraving public domain

In 1673 the manor was bought by Sir Josiah Child, a wealthy businessman who made his fortune selling goods to the navy and who became governor of the East India Company.

His son, Richard, created gardens with a series of large ponds and canals which are still here. The woods are filled with native bluebells in April.  In 1715 Richard Child pulled down the old Tudor manor house and built a magnificent Palladian style mansion.

Eventually the estate was inherited by a young girl, Catherine Tylney-Long. She was one of the richest heiresses in England. Seven years later she married and her husband, a nephew of the Duke of Wellington, spent all the money. In 1822, after 10 years of marriage the couple had to sell all the furniture to pay off his debts. No-one would buy the house so the interiors were sold and removed and the rest was demolished. All that is left of the buildings are the ruins of a boathouse and The Temple, a summer pavilion that was just a place to take refreshments and look at the gardens.

Luckily the land was tied up in the inheritance contract and couldn’t be sold but had to pass to their children. Years later, 184 acres of it was bought by the Corporation of London. The Corporation had been supporting the rights of commoners to free access to land in Epping Forest which is nearby. The park was opened to the public in 1882 for people to enjoy in perpetuity.

About the author: Gail Jones