The house that lies in two places at once

Jan 14, 2016

It seems that since time began the placement of city limits has been something that has the ability to bring friends to war. In some cities the boundary is so tight that the vast majority of what a stranger might assume to be the city technically lies outside it altogether. However, one may ask what would happen if a house was to lie across such a border. Well my friend, read on.


That there in front of you, is a single building containing two semi-detached houses. Boring I hear you cry? Oh no. Although what may live inside these house are two neighboring families, sharing but a fence and dividing wall, they are in fact officially living in two completely different cities.

The one of the right is in London; the one on the left is outside it, in the neighbouring county of Essex. You are able to tell this from the street signs. However, it doesn’t stop there… London’s boundaries have only been where they are since 1965. These homes are clearly older than that. This means that the London boundary was deliberately designed to run down the middle of this building. Baffling.


How did this happen you may ask? In the late 19th and early 20th century, various Essex suburbs were being sorted into boroughs. The two sides of this line were in different boroughs. The local government went through various permutations, until by the early 1950s, this building was straddling the border between the Chigwell Urban District (on the left) and the Wansted & Woodford Urban District (on the right). Both these areas were considered for inclusion in the new Greater London. But like many other rich outlying suburbs – Esher, Epsom and Weybridge ect. Chigwell complained, and even though they are on the border with London’s urban area, they were not included in the final plan.


As a result, London has ended up with a boundary that not only runs directly through a suburban street, but actually cuts buildings in two.

The two homes have different street addresses. The home on the right is in Woodford with the postcode IG8, whereas the one on the left is in Buckhurst Hill; IG9. Madness.