|Snaresbrook Crown Court||Redbridge|
Snaresbrook Crown Court is the former Infant Orphan Asylum built by Sir Gilbert Scott, set in an informal landscape garden on the south side of Eagle Pond, Epping Forest. The foundation stone was laid by Prince Albert in 1841 and it was opened on 5 June 1843 by Queen Victoria's uncle, Leopold King of the Belgians. By 1880 3,000 orphans had been 'boarded, clothed, nursed and educated' by the charity. A design of 1841 shows landscaping before the buildings were erected, including island bed and paths. The orphanage was renamed Royal Wanstead School in 1938 and eventually closed in 1971. The grounds have fine cedar, oak, horse chestnut, ash, Scots pine, holly, yew and rhododendron, with sloping lawns to Eagle Pond.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/09/2010
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Snaresbrook Crown Court is housed in the former Infant Orphan Asylum built in 1843 to designs of Sir Gilbert Scott and William Moffat in Jacobean style. It is set in an informal landscape garden on the south side of Eagle Pond and adjacent to Epping Forest. Eagle Pond has been a popular place for anglers since the C18th. An 1831 guidebook described Snaresbrook as a 'naturally pleasant and healthy neighbourhood, highly improved by art, which has been selected as a suitable situation for numerous elegant seats and country villas'. The charity was founded by Dr Andrew Reed, a Congregational Minister, and had been instituted at Hackney in 1827 and incorporated in 1843. Its objects were 'to board, clothe, nurse, and educate (in accordance with the principles of the Church of England) poor orphan children, or the children of confirmed lunatics'. It accommodated up to 600 children and between the year it opened and 1880 3,000 orphans had been received from early infancy, an average of 60 a year, staying until they reached 14 or 15. The buildings were of brick with stone pointing and dressing, with a long front and projecting wings in Elizabethan style. A design of 1841 shows landscaping before the buildings, including island bed. The foundation stone was laid by Prince Albert in 1841 and it was opened on 5 June 1843 by Queen Victoria's uncle, Leopold King of the Belgians.
The orphanage was given the royal blessing in 1918 and renamed Royal Wanstead School in 1938. By 1939 OS maps show sports grounds and tennis courts laid out south of the main building and also to the north between Eagle Pond and the main buildings, with a miniature rifle range by Old Birch Well, and a swimming bath just north of the Lodge. It became a grammar school following the 1944 Education Act but, with falling numbers and funds, the school eventually closed in 1971.
The site was then taken over by Her Majesty's Court Service to become Snaresbrook Crown Court, now the largest crown court in England, handling over 7,000 cases each year. Although the buildings were converted for their new use, the old chapel of the Infant Orphan Asylum remains. The main entrance is on Hollybush Hill and the grounds contain a number of fine trees, including cedar, monkey puzzle, oak, horse chestnut, ash, Scots pine, holly, yew and rhododendron, with sloping lawns to Eagle Pond in the north.
Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Edward Walford, 'Village London, the Story of Greater London, Part 2 - North and East', first published 1883/4 (1985 ed., The Alderman Press); Ian Dowling and Nick Harris, Images of London: Wanstead and Woodford, Tempus Publishing 2003, p60