the highams estate
Most of The Highams Estate was developed during the 1930s. Plans were drawn up for a much larger scheme, but economic and geopolitical events meant that The Estate ended up smaller and took longer to complete.

Early development

The Law Land Building company acquired the site on which The Highams Estate was built from Courtenay Warner.

Initially, they began to develop the grounds of the manor house in 1897, with the erection of 24 six-bedroomed homes on Montalt Road and 18 houses and 68 'half houses' in Chingford Lane built in the "Warner style": the same architectural designs as the Warner Estate in Walthamstow.

In 1905, another four houses were built on Montalt Road. However, demand was lower than expected, and only 30 of the 44 planned homes were built.

The first map is from 1894-95 showing the presumed extent of the Highams grounds before the development of The Estate (in green).

It covers most of the area between Woodford New Road, Chingford Lane, Forest Glade and what is now The Avenue.

The area that juts out in the bottom left shows four houses in Cottingham Road that The Warner family built between 1881 and 1885. They made way for Patricks Court in the 1960s.

A carriageway (dotted black line) to the manor house runs from Oak Hill, along the front of these houses and through the forest. The lodge shown on the map acted as a gatehouse. The route of the carriageway is now known as The Bridle Path.

The second map is from 1914-1915. By this time, Montalt Villas and the half houses along Chingford Lane had been built by the Law Land Building company. Access to trains was tricky for those living in the villas, as a junction between Chingford Lane and The Avenue had yet to be completed (and would only be in the 1960s).

Inter-war development

After a hiatus caused by the First World War and the construction of The Warner Estate, attention turned again to developing the land around the manor house.

The architects William and Edward Hunt, FFRIBA initially drew up plans to build 532 homes right up to the lake, with various iterations centring around the design of the cul-de-sacs to accommodate a sufficient amount of building plots.

Original plan for The Highams Estate, showing how the development would have covered all the manor house grounds: right up to the lake, along Chingford Road and to the side of Woodford Rugby Club

The publicity for The Highams Estate promised “an exceptionally healthy elevation – 200 feet above sea level and a bracing atmosphere of decidedly health-giving quality”.

A substantial number of sales were selected by intending purchasers from The Estate plans. If the house selected was semi-detached, the whole pair would be built, and the other half sold separately.

Roads began to be built in 1930. When World War II was declared, some adjoining houses were left unoccupied, and sales dried up. Warner Estate Ltd. bought up these houses during the war.

Road names

  • Crealock Grove (1930): named after Malcolm Crealock, a director of the Warner Estate and Law Land Building Dept.
  • Henry's Avenue (1930): named after Sir Henry Warner
  • Keynsham Avenue (1934): until 1897, Courtenay Warner owned an estate near Keynsham in Somerset
  • Lichfield Road (1933): Courtenay Warner was a Liberal MP for Lichfield, Staffs. 1896 - 1923
  • Marion Grove (1936): origins of this name are unknown
  • Mason Road (1933): commemorating the family's involvement in Freemasonry
  • Montalt Road (1897): named after Earl de Montalt, 4th Viscount Hawarden and father-in-law to Courtenay Warner
  • Nesta Road (1932): named after the Hon. Nesta Douglas-Pennant who married Edward Warner in 1920
  • Tamworth Avenue (1934): Tamworth, Staffs. was part of Courtenay Warner's Lichfield constituency
  • The Charter Road (1930): Courtenay Warner was the Charter Mayor of Walthamstow

Post-war development

There were still parcels of land within The Estate that remained undeveloped owing to the War and patchy demand for homes within The Estate.

Excerpt from a 1946 map showing undeveloped land at the northern end of in Nesta Road. Note the size of the plots for houses located on junctions

This map from 1946 shows the vacant land on Nesta Road (in the top left-hand corner of the map). Nos. 4, 6, 8 and 10 Nesta Road were built after the war in the tract of land.

Following the war, there was an urgent need to house those displaced, so Walthamstow Council built 178 prefabricated bungalows within the park. They were tightly packed together, and roads were built to provide access.

A community hut was constructed, which is now Humphry's Café (named after Humphry Repton, who landscaped the gardens of Highams manor house). The prefabs were removed in 1961. Read about life in the prefabs

Colourised photo of the prefabs in The Highams Park from a back garden in Henry's Avenue. From the Old Chingford Facebook group

In the 1950s, the council houses at the bottom of Henry’s Avenue were developed by the police force. The land was vacant, set aside to provide access for proposed but never realised housing between Henry's Avenue and the lake.

Air Photo from 1946 showing the undeveloped land eventually used for police houses between Henry's Avenue and The Charter Road (dashed white lines), and the location of Park Farm. Note the prefab development in The Highams Park. See the photo in full

After a successful campaign by HRA to prevent the demolition of several Montalt Villas in the 1950s, their gardens which led up to Chingford Lane, were built upon, and Wood Lane with 29 bungalows and 65 garages was created.

Again in the 1950s, the Park Farm site which served the Highams manor house (see map above) was earmarked for development when the council proposed constructing a twelve-storey block of flats. Following resident opposition, the plans were modified so that only a five-storey block was constructed. These are the flats on the corner of Beechwood Crescent and Montalt Road.

In-fill development

Aside from municipal developments, there have been additional homes added to The Estate by subdividing large plots occupied by the detached houses located on junctions. As land values and demand in the area rose, private owners sought to take advantage of this situation. For example:

  • 19 Crealock Grove, known as Pepperpots for its distinctive facade, was occupied by the Highams Estate manager during construction. Following the completion of the development, he built 14 Henry’s Avenue for his sister in the grounds of his home
  • 20a Nesta Road was built on the site of former tennis courts which were part of 20 Nesta Road. The original house was owned by Victor Ercolani, elder brother of Lucian who founded Ercol furniture
  • 11 The Charter Road was purchased by C&S builders merchants of Stamford Hill. They sold off gardens around this plot to create 9 and 13 The Charter Road (completed in 1997)
  • Meanwhile, 1 Nesta Road (which in itself is a later addition to the original housing stock, built on the grounds of 11 The Charter Road in the 1960s) was involved in an exchange of land, which meant their garden could be moved behind it. 13 The Charter Road was built sideways, and their garden now occupies the corner of The Charter Road and Nesta Road.
  • 15 The Charter Road had 15a built next to it
  • 1 Crealock Grove, known as "Little Timbers" gave rise to 40 The Charter Road.
  • The plot of 1 Lichfield Road, which sits at the junction of Keynsham Avenue, now has 2 Lichfield alongside it, whose architectural design is very different to the rest of The Estate houses.

Aerial shot of The Charter Road and Nesta Road, taken around 1990 showing the original plot layout for 1 Nesta Road.