A very grumpy-looking Sir Winston Churchill stands on the green glaring down Woodford High Road. Britain’s great wartime leader was MP here for 40 years until a year before his death in 1965.
Why so grumpy? Perhaps he is reflecting on the general election of 1945 when he was rejected by the nation in favour of a Labour government led by Clement Atlee, who to add insult to the injury, lived in Monkham Avenue, now one of Woodford Green’s most sought-after streets, during the Twenties and Thirties.
Other famous residents included William Morris, the writer and designer, who grew up in the now-demolished Woodford Hall; Sylvia Pankhurst, the suffragette and peace campaigner, who lived in Charteris Road; and James Hilton, best-known as the author of Goodbye Mr Chips, who lived in Oak Hill Gardens.
South Woodford and Woodford Green are two adjoining neighbourhoods in the suburbs of north-east London. South Woodford sits east of Walthamstow and north of Wanstead and straddles the North Circular Road. The more rural-feeling Woodford Green lies directly to the north.
These areas were extensively developed in mock Tudor between the wars. There are also Georgian houses along the main roads - a reminder of the time when rich merchants built large houses here - as well as rows of Victorian houses and cottages, Edwardian houses, and 20th-century blocks of flats. According to Catherine Bransgrove of local estate agent Hetheringtons, the price of family houses is now higher than at the end of 2007, and price per square foot is about £350, with about £500 achieved in the best locations.
The best roads
In South Woodford the best road is The Drive, with its fine Edwardian mansions with carriage drives. They are on the main Woodford Road but separated from it by a wide green. A house here sold last year for £2.025 million. In Woodford Green the best roads are on the Monkhams estate where there are attractively detailed, large detached and semi-detached Edwardian and Twenties houses. Expect to pay from £750,000 for a semi, and from £800,000 up to £1.3 million for a detached house.
An abundance of houses means this is an area that appeals to families from north and east London who want more space for their money, larger gardens and more surrounding green space. Buyers include middle-class City professionals and, increasingly, families trading up from nearby Ilford.
South Woodford is in the London postcode E18; Woodford Green is in the Ilford postcode IG8, where large family houses are more expensive and considered more desirable.
Telford Homes has a large development of 482 (110 affordable) one-, two- and three-bedroom flats at Queen Mary’s Gate (0800 883 8619) at the junction of the High Road and the North Circular. One-bedroom flats start at £197,000 and two-bedroom flats at £272,000.
In Sunset Avenue, tucked away opposite the green open spaces of Woodford Golf Club, there are several blocks of well-maintained flats such as Hobart Court, Aurora Court, Tree Tops and The Albany, where prices start at about £270,000 for a two-bedroom flat and £315,000 for a three-bedroom flat.
Getting an education
Good schools mean that families tend to trade up rather than move out. The following state primary schools are judged "outstanding" by Ofsted: St Anthony’s RC in Mornington Road, Churchfields Infants in Churchfields and Nightingale in Ashbourne Avenue. The state secondary schools that are judged "outstanding" are Trinity (co-ed ages 11 to 18) a Catholic comprehensive in Mornington Road, and Woodford County High (girls age 11 to 18), a grammar school. Woodbridge High (co-ed age 11 to 18) is judged "good". There are two popular private schools: Bancroft’s (co-ed ages seven to 18) and Forest (co-ed ages four to 18) in Snaresbrook. Braeside (girls ages three to 16) is in Buckhurst Hill.
Shops and restaurants
The main shopping area is in and around George Lane close to South Woodford station. There is a Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and M&S Simply Food, high street stores and independent shops. Chain restaurants include Pizza Express and Zizzi. A handful of independent shops on the High Road north of the North Circular are worth seeking out, in particular Source for gifts, interior accessories and women’s fashion; Oz for children’s clothes and Artisan Fine Art, which is currently selling Bob Dylan limited edition prints. Further up the High Road north of the Green, there is a butcher, W D Chapman, and a bookshop and local landmark pub, the Castle, now a Harvester. On the Broadway by Woodford station there is a Budgens supermarket, several cafés, including a Belgique patisserie, part of a small Wanstead-based chain, and Crystall a lovely old-fashioned pharmacy with a window display of Bronnley soaps.
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Leisure, arts and outdoors
Think sporty, rather than arty, though the local council does run an annual festival of dance and there are plans for some community art installations on the bridge over the North Circular.
The nearest council-owned swimming pool is close to Fairlop Water country park where there are two golf courses, windsurfing and sailing on the lake and a new boulder park for climbing. Esporta has a health club at Repton Park where the swimming pool is in a converted chapel. The Woodford Wells Club is a sports club in Monkhams Lane offering cricket, tennis, squash and hockey; the South Woodford Cricket Club is in Highfields Road and the Woodford Golf Club is a nine-hole club in Sunset Avenue.
The 6,000 acres of Epping Forest are on the doorstep. This is the largest area of open space in the capital stretching 12 miles from Manor Park to Epping.
The M11, M25 and North Circular roads are all close by. The area is served by two Tube stations: South Woodford and Woodford (both Zone 4, annual travelcard to Zone 1 is £1,576) on the Central line. South Woodford is 17 minutes to Liverpool Street and 29 minutes to Oxford Circus.
Council: the London Borough of Redbridge (controlled by a Conservative/Liberal-Democrat coalition) charges Band D council tax for 2011/2012 at £1,405.35.
Pictures by Graham Hussey