Plan for homes next to listed Hornchurch water tower rumoured to cover monks’ escape tunnel

Sylvyan Avenue in Hornchurch; water tower visible centre-left.

Sylvan Avenue in Hornchurch, with the water tower visible centre-left. - Credit: Google

Plans have been submitted for two homes next to a Grade-II listed water tower, rumoured to have been used to cover an escape tunnel for fleeing monks. 

Applicant John Pittaway has requested planning permission to demolish an existing five-bedroom detached home at 3 Sylvan Avenue, Hornchurch, in order to replace it with two six-bedroom detached properties. 

The demolition would not affect the listed water tower, about which there are number of local fables. 

An extract from The Making of Emerson Park, quoted in the developer’s design and access statement, repeats a tale that the tower covers a tunnel leading to St Andrews Church or Gallows Corner, used as an escape route for monks. 

Other claims include it was a gamekeepers’ lookout or a platform from which Elizabethan ladies would watch hunts. 

If the application is approved, each of the two brick and stone homes will feature a large gabled entrance with views onto the heritage feature. 

A decision on the application is expected by March 9. 

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View the plans using planning reference L0001.22.