What’s not to like about the quiet and prosperous suburb of Woodford, with its open green space, good schools and easy commute into central London?
This neighbourhood in the north-east of the capital has character, too. It might look as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth, but it has bred some impressive agitators and political troublemakers.
Winston Churchill, the great Tory wartime leader, was MP for Woodford from 1945 to 1964 and his statue stands on the corner of The Green. Clement Attlee, who succeeded Churchill as prime minister in the reforming post-war 1945 Labour government, lived on the favoured Monkhams Estate when he was MP for Walthamstow West from 1950 to 1956.
Sylvia Pankhurst, meanwhile, the suffragette and peace campaigner, scandalised her neighbours in the High Road by setting up home in 1924 with her Italian anarchist lover Silvio Corio and renaming her home Red Cottage.
Estate agent Elaine Watson of the local branch of Hetheringtons describes Woodford as a series of villages spread out along Woodford New Road, the High Road, Woodford Green and Chigwell Road, embracing South Woodford, Woodford Green, Woodford Wells and Woodford Bridge.
With Epping Forest on the doorstep, Watson says Woodford is popular with families looking for open green space, good schools and an easy commute into central London.
There are also good road connections to the North Circular, the M25 and the M11. Woodford is 10 miles north-east of central London with Chingford and Loughton to the north, Barkingside to the east, Wanstead to the south and Walthamstow to the west.
The property scene
A smattering of grand period houses remains from the days when Woodford was a place of rural retreat for wealthy City merchants. Today, though, it’s a typical commuter town with a mix of Victorian, Edwardian, and Twenties and Thirties detached, semi-detached and terrace houses, along with new-build flats.
Crest Nicholson converted the listed Victorian former Claybury Hospital in Manor Road and built new flats and houses in the Humphry Repton-landscaped grounds, creating 850 homes. The development, where buyers have included TV personality and ex-England cricketer Phil Tufnell and former EastEnders star Patsy Palmer, has a cricket pitch and health club.
Centurion Court is a block of 10 new two-bedroom flats in The Drive, close to South Woodford station. The flats are ready to move into and prices start at £650,000. Through Hetheringtons, on 020 8945 5427.
The nearest affordable new homes are at L&Q’s £50 million Walthamstow Stadium scheme in Chingford Road. There are 294 homes, of which 99 apartments are now being sold on a shared-ownership basis. The development includes a new community-run sports centre, a children’s nursery, landscaped play area and allotments. The dog track’s famous neon sign is being restored and retained, and prices of the shared-ownership flats start at £80,000 for 25 per cent.
Call the housing association on 0300 456 9998.
Rentals agent Hayley Peverley, of Hetheringtons, says tenants in Woodford are generally young professional commuters and families. Homes in the Churchfields infants and junior schools catchment area are popular with families and buy-to-let investors.
Woodford is a family area and once children are settled in a local secondary school, families tend to stay.
E18 is the Woodford postcode and covers the area closest to South Woodford station. IG8 is the Woodford Green and Woodford Bridge postcode and has Woodford station at its centre, while the E4 Chingford postcode takes in parts of Woodford on its western boundary.
The large Victorian houses in Broomhill Road overlook The Green and the cricket pitch. Monkhams Estate, close to Woodford station, has detached and semi-detached Edwardian and Twenties houses.
Up and coming
There are smaller terrace houses in the roads east of Woodford station.
The North Circular runs through Woodford, and the M25 and M11 are both nearby. There are two Tube stations — Woodford and South Woodford, both on the Central line with trains to Bank in 20 minutes and Oxford Street in 30 minutes. Both stations are in Zone 4 and an annual travelcard costs £1,860.
Redbridge council is Labour controlled and Band D council tax for the 2016/2017 year is £1,415.22.
Shops and restaurants
Woodford’s main shopping centre is around South Woodford station, stretching up and down George Lane where there are branches of Sainsbury’s, M&S Simply Food and Waitrose. International Supermarket, a Turkish-owned store, has a particularly good choice of fruit and vegetables. There is a branch of Laura Ashley Home and Sid & Evie’s is an independent children’s shop selling clothes and toys.
Chain restaurants include Chimichanga, Zizzi, Wildwood, Prezzo and PizzaExpress. The best local restaurant is the recently opened The Woodford, in High Road, where chef Ben Murphy, a Pierre Koffmann protégé, is aiming for a Michelin star.
There are more shops and restaurants in The Broadway around Woodford station. Find here Chrystalls traditional pharmacy, the popular Seasons wine bar, and Belgique, a branch of the Essex chain of patisseries.
There are more shops and restaurants in High Road at the junction with Snakes Lane West including a butcher and Deli on the Green.
The local gastropubs are The Royal Oak in Hale End Road and the Crown & Crooked Billet in Cross Road overlooking Woodford Bridge green.
Green space surrounds Woodford, with Epping Forest offering walks from Wanstead to Epping to the west, and the Roding Valley with walks to Ilford to the east.
Leisure and the arts
Woodford has an Odeon multiplex cinema, while Redbridge Drama Centre in Churchfields is the local theatre, putting on dance, drama, music and children’s shows.
Woodford Wells Club in Monkhams Lane has two cricket pitches, 11 tennis courts, four squash courts, and an indoor sports hall. Woodford Green Cricket Club has been playing on The Green since 1735. Woodford Golf Club has nine holes on Sunset Avenue.
The nearest council-owned swimming pool is at Fullwell Cross Leisure Centre in Barkingside High Street. Virgin Active has a swimming pool converted from the former chapel at Repton Park.
Woodford has a good choice of both state and private schools.
All the state primary schools are judged “good” or better by Ofsted. Primary schools with an “outstanding” rating from the government education watchdog are Churchfields Infants and Juniors in Churchfields, Oakhill in Alders Avenue, and Wells in Barclay Oval.
The state comprehensive school Trinity RC (co-ed ages 11 to 18) in Mornington Road is also “outstanding”, while Woodbridge High (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in St Barnabas Road and Highams Park (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Handsworth Avenue are rated “good”.
The local council, Redbridge, has selective grammar schools. The girls’ grammar school, Woodford County High (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) is in High Road; the boys’ grammar school is in Ilford; both are judged “outstanding”.
The private primary and preparatory schools are: St Aubyn’s (co-ed, ages three to 13) in Bunces Lane; Woodford Green Preparatory (co-ed, ages three to 11) in Glengall Road — known locally as “The Red School” due to its scarlet uniform; Snaresbrook Preparatory (co-ed, ages three to 11) in Woodford Road, and Avon House (co-ed, ages three to 11) in High Road.
There are two private all-through schools — Bancroft’s (co-ed, ages seven to 18) in High Road and Forest (co-ed, ages four to 18) in College Place, Walthamstow.