Wanstead Grotto

Restoration of the landing plinth.

Wanstead Grotto is an 18th century survival from the estate that was once part of Wanstead House. Built between 1715 and 1722 by Sir Richard Child, 1st Earl Tylney and designed by Colen Campbell, Wanstead House was vast enough to rival Blenheim Palace, with a 200 foot (60m) façade, fronted by a 70 foot (21m) Corinthian column portico. Near the house, Tylney created an elaborate lake system, fed by the River Roding. Tylney’s son John, 2nd Earl Tylney, added the Grotto on the edge of the lake between 1760 and 1764. The Grotto cost £2,000 and was spectacular.

The Grotto was opened to the public for sixpence a visit. However in 1884, a fire broke out in a storeroom and because the lake in front was being cleaned and was empty, there was no water to extinguish it. The Grotto was badly damaged, with only the façade and outer walls remaining.

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