Wanstead Flats

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Description:
Wanstead Flats is the southern-most portion of Epping Forest in east London. It is surrounded by the heavily built-up areas of Leytonstone to the west, Wanstead to the north with Manor Park and Forest Gate to the southeast and south respectively. To the north-west it is connected by way of Bush Wood to Leyton Flats to more northerly reaches of Epping Forest. It falls within the boundary of the London Borough of Redbridge.

Roads and houses almost completely surround Wanstead Flats. To the east a low wall and high railing separate it from the City of London Cemetery. Three roads actually cross the Flats, effectively dividing it into four sections. The greater part of the whole area of some is flat, open grassland on the river gravel of the Taplow Terrace, which overlays the London Clay.

History

Though historically part of a royal forest, the nature of the area encouraged people to turn out cattle and other animals to graze upon this unenclosed land. This practice was eventually recognised and granted as the right of common pasture. Certain landowners and occupiers still have this right, granted them as part of the Epping Forest Act 1878, and cattle grazed freely until 1996 when the BSE crisis forced their removal. It is probable that continued grazing on this and similar areas of the Forest helped to maintain the open aspect which they have today. Although the campaign to prevent enclosure before 1878 is well known, less well known is the campaign organised by local people...
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