Chigwell’s history 

June 9th 2019
By: Melanie Hollidge
Chigwell’s history 

How is Chigwell’s history entwined with the “special relationship” the UK has with America? In the wake of celebrating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings which took place on the 6th June 1944 during the Second World War, the largest combined land, air and naval operation in history. It is interesting to reflect on what can be found in Chigwell to link us ay back with The Americas and more recently, what in the Chigwell, Loughton and Woodford areas played a part in defending the UK during the Second World War. 

In the Norman St Mary’s Church Chigwell a medieval brass commemorating Samuel Harsnett, Vicar of St Mary’s from 1597-1605 can be found. The brass itself is considered to be the best of its kind in the country. Harsnett later became Archbishop of York and founded Chigwell School in 1629. Chigwell school is interestingly where William Penn the founder of Pennsylvania State, USA was educated. William Penn (1644 –1718) was an English Quaker, entrepreneur, philosopher and an influential figure in the early American colonies, helping to promote ideas of democracy, religious tolerance and the idea of uniting the American colonies.

During the Second World War Chigwell, Loughton and Woodford were also neighbours to the RAF presence based at Roding Valley Meadows. They provided barrage balloon protection for the Allied forces during the Second World War and then later during the Cold War the base was involved in Britain’s coastal nuclear early warning system. Evidence of RAF Chigwell can still be seen today at Roding Valley Meadows Local Nature Reserve.

Historic England says it is vital to protect the history we share with America around the D-Day landings "as a memorial for future generations”. “As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, it is right that we continue to honour the memory of those who fought for peace in one of the decisive moments of the Second World War," said Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright.