wansteadhouse.com

Timeline

1667

Sir Josiah Child while making his fortune at the head of the East India Company purchases the Wanstead House estate.

1675+

Sir Josiah effects major changes at the estate. Large formalised gardens are laid out to the rear of the main house and the River Roding is diverted through a series of man-made canals and lakes to form part of a lavish ornamental park. Extensive tree-lined avenues with many intersections between them are planted leading from neighbouring locations to the House and gardens. To the front of the House, these avenues form a striking series of criss-cross patterns (quincunx arrangement) as they radiate outward from the long, straight main driveway to Leytonstone. The house faces almost due west with an uninterrupted view to the top of Highgate Hill and beyond. To the south-west the new St.Paul's Cathedral gradually takes shape in the distance as it is rebuilt over a period of 35 years, rising from the ashes of the Great Fire of London of 1665.

1704

The estate passes to Sir Richard Child. His inheritance of the estate makes him an extremely wealthy man.

1709

Sir Richard Child starts work on softening the regimented lines of the existing garden. Some unpredictability is built in with new mazes and wandering paths opening into small amphitheatre-like spaces.

1715

Sir Richard Child commissions leading architect Colen Campbell to rebuild the House in the neo-classical Palladian style (innovative at the time) to rival Blenheim and Versailles. A very large building, 260 by 70 feet in size is planned. The old house is demolished to make way for the new structure.

1722

The new House is completed at a cost of £360,000, one of the finest and grandest in England. The building is fronted by a portico of six Corinthian columns supporting a 60 foot wide pediment. The house interior is also lavishly decorated with ceiling paintings and murals. High-quality craftsmanship and materials are in evidence everywhere.

1750

Death of Sir Richard Child now 1st Earl Tylney. The 2nd Earl Tylney concentrates on furnishing the house bringing in many fine works of art from his travels abroad.

1784

After the childless death of the 2nd Earl Tylney, the estate passes via the female line to Sir James Long of Draycot, Wiltshire who is already a wealthy man. He takes the name Tylney-Long and moves to Wanstead House where he carries out a number of further improvements.

1789 Birth of the ill-fated Catherine Tylney-Long, daughter of Sir James.
1794

Birth of James Tylney-Long, Catherine's younger brother. In the same year father Sir James Tylney-Long dies and the estate automatically passes to newly born James as the eldest male heir.

1794+

While the house is managed on behalf of the minor, James, it is occasionally let to members of France's Bourbon royal family during their period of exile following the French Revolution.

1805

James, Catherine's brother, dies aged only 10 or 11. Catherine Tylney-Long as heiress to the vast estate suddenly becomes the richest woman in England outside of royalty, with an income of £80,000 a year. And all at the tender age of sixteen. There is no shortage of hopeful suitors including future King of England William IV, then the Duke Of Clarence.

1812

Ultimately one man more determined than the rest succeeds and so William Wellesley-Pole (WWP), nephew of the Duke Of Wellington, a notorious scoundrel, gambler, villain etc. wins Catherine's hand, although he forgets to bring the ring to the marriage ceremony. Marriage means absorption of the bride's estate and WWP wastes no time in incorporating the new titles into his own name: William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley as he is more usually referred to. The happy new couple move into Wanstead House.

1812+

WWP starts to throw huge expensive parties at Wanstead House, to which Catherine is not invited. He becomes Tory MP for St.Ives at the 1812 election. Locally, he becomes famous for his extravagant Stag Hunts, making full use of The Eagle Tavern in Snaresbrook and known for his spreading of sovereigns around the field workers like confetti. A frequent traveller to the opera in London he makes a habit of bringing back guests afterwards to Wanstead House where at midnight all preparation would have been made for dinner, drinks and entertainment.

1813 Catherine bears WWP a son, William.
1814

WWP holds a grand fete in Wanstead House and its gardens to celebrate the Duke of Wellington's victory over Napoleon. The Prince Regent attends along with a number of other royals and over a thousand leading dignitaries.

1815

Catherine bears WWP another son, James. In Europe, Napoleon is finally defeated for good.

1815+

A brief boom period following the war is followed by deep recession towards the end of the decade. There is growing popular disenchantment with the ruling classes and ever-louder clamour for reform. The well-established Tory government is unmoved and responds by turning the screw tighter. Meanwhile the Whigs and their supporters amongst the poets and playwrights are to sit on their hands for many more years before they are finally in a position to change anything.

1818

Catherine has her third child, a daughter, Victoria. WWP is elected one of the two county members for Wiltshire.

1820

WWP does not present himself for re-election in the January poll, although his agents continue to declare an intention to do so, well into the campaign. A sign of more pressing problems to attend to. Mad King George III dies and is succeeded by his son the Prince Regent, now George IV.

1822

WWP, Catherine and the children head for Italy. The contents of Wanstead House are auctioned off over a 32-day period to pay WWP's creditors but funds raised are not enough.

1824

To further settle WWP's debts, Wanstead House is sold at the knockdown price of £10,000 to a firm of builders with creditors stipulating that the building is to have been completely dismantled by Lady Day (March 25th) 1825. The builders proceed to sell off the fixtures, fittings and eventually bricks until literally nothing remains in-situ of the original house. Catherine and the children return to England from Italy after WWP starts a liason with a married woman who joins their party. The children are subsequently made wards of chancery.

1825

Wanstead House no longer exists. Catherine Tylney-Long having lost her entire fortune, dies at the age of 35 and destitute in Richmond, Surrey. In death her body is brought back to the family seat at Draycot, the funeral procession being joined at Chippenham by the Duke of Wellington.

1828 WWP remarries. Later, his new wife is also left financially ruined.
1847 WWP's second wife is claiming Poor Relief.
1857

WWP dies alone, in poverty and 'mourned by no-one'. Unlike his wife and children his body is not brought to Draycot for final rest.

1897

The death of Victoria Tylney-Long, daughter of WWP and Catherine marks the end of the Tylney-Long family line. The family crypt at Draycot is sealed.