|Knotts Green||Waltham Forest|
Knotts Green was a hamlet along the route between Snaresbrook and Leyton, previously called Low Leyton. The area was rural until it was developed in the C20th. The Green has long remained public open space and today, somewhat encroached, it consists of a strip of grass and some trees. A former resident of the hamlet in the 1880s was Mr Gurney Barclay whose gardens and grounds here were admired and were famous for the observatory he built.
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Joseph Gurney Barclay, FRAS (1816-98) was from a Quaker family and for many years he was head of Barclay's Bank. In c1854, he became interested in astronomy and later that year he set up an observatory at his home, Knott's Green House. In c1883, Edward Walford referred to the house 'surrounded by gardens and grounds which have attained a local celebrity, and which has become famous for its observatory.’ The Illustrated London News of 15 July 1865 shows the property captioned: 'Entertainment given by Mr Gurney Barclay, at Leytonstone, to the agents of the London City Mission.' The house later fell into disrepair and was demolished in the 1960s to make way for Livingstone College.
Edward Walford, 'Village London, the Story of Greater London, Part 2 - North and East', first published 1883/4 (1985 ed., The Alderman Press); for information on Joseph Barclay's Observatory, see http://oasi.org.uk/OPO/Leyton/Leyton.php