Hoe Street in Walthamstow is mostly lined with shops and eateries set in buildings dating from the later 19th century and after. But it also has several older buildings that have survived the test of time.

Cleveland House (285 Hoe Street) is one of these survivors, and dates from the 18th century, a time when Walthamstow was a rural retreat for prosperous London merchants and gentry who built grand houses within spacious grounds.

Originally a narrow three-storey building, it was later extended with one-storey wings at either side; the south wing was extended upwards in 1871 to make it the same height as the original house. Its grounds stretched as far as what is now Pembroke Road.

Notable residents include John Conyers of Copped Hall in Essex, of the Conyers family, one of the area’s major landowners. He was living there by the mid-1770s, though within a few years he had moved out and by 1782 the Forster family had moved in.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Edward Forster the Younger

The new residents were Susanna, her banker husband Edward, who was also Governor of the Royal Exchange, and their children Susanna, Thomas, Benjamin and Edward. Edward Senior was also a keen botanist and developed the house’s gardens with his sons who became renowned specialists in botany and natural history. When Edward died in 1812 Susanna inherited the estate (although she is shown as Mrs Foster rather than Forster on the 1822 map of Walthamstow).

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

John Coe's 1822 map of Walthamstow

In 1853 the Cleveland Estate was acquired by developers Thomas Moreland and Conrad Wilkinson who sold it at auction and it became enfranchised to the Manor of Walthamstow Toney. Residents after this time included auctioneer John Wallen and his young family by 1864, and Justice of the Peace and philanthropist Eliot Howard who lived there from the early 1870s until the 1890s.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Luzula Forsteri by Jacob Sturm, 1796. Named after Edward Forster the Younger

By this time the neighbourhood was rapidly transforming from a rural to an urban area, with swathes of land being bought and developed with rows of terraced houses. The Cleveland Estate was sold in 1897 and streets were laid out in the former grounds, although the house itself survived demolition. It was home to Charlotte Good and her retired builder husband Charles, and their family until 1913 when it was acquired by Clark’s College.

The College taught practical office and commerce skills to many people living in the area for several decades until 1967, with a brief interlude in the Second World War when it was used by the Ministry of Labour (1941-1944).

When the Hoe Street Clark’s College branch closed for good in 1967 the building was bought by the council who used it as a health centre. It was later acquired by a developer and converted into several flats.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

The rear of the property. Photo: Karen Averby

Do you have memories of attending Cleveland House when it was a college or health centre? Or maybe you used to live in one of the flats- or are living there now?

Karen Averby is a seaside-loving Historian and research consultant specialising in researching histories and stories of buildings, people and places. She researches house histories for private clients and collaborates in community heritage projects (karenaverby.co.uk).

She is also director of Archangel Heritage Ltd, an historical research consultancy providing research services for the commercial heritage sector (archangelheritage.co.uk). Also found on Twitter @karenaverby and @archaheritage