If you live in or are thinking of moving to Chigwell, Loughton or Woodford make sure you check out Epping Forest this summer for some family fun. Chigwell, Loughton or Woodford make sure you check out Epping Forest this summer for some family fun. Epping Forest is one of the greatest local resources and even though Epping Forest together with Hainault and Hatfield forests are all that is left of the ancient woodland known as the Forest of Essex, it is still wild and wonderful.
Originally the Forest of Essex covered 60,000 acres. What remains is 6,000 acres of woodland with ancient oaks and beech trees, open heath, bogs, ponds and grasslands. This natural oasis stretches for 12 miles from Manor Park in the East of London to just north of Epping in Essex, on a ridge between the valleys of Lea and Roding.
Throughout history, Epping Forest has been a refuge for people escaping London for various reasons from the plague in ancient times to the more recent bombing of London during the Second World War. Now it is a welcome retreat for anyone wanting a day out from London and a fabulous resource for those living locally in villages like Chigwell, Loughton and Woodford.
Epping Forest was first recorded as being mentioned in connection with Royalty in the 12th century when an edict by Henry III allowed commoners to gather wood and foodstuffs and graze livestock. Only the king was allowed to hunt. It is believed that in 1543 Henry VIII commissioned the building of the structure in Chingford known as the Great Standing which enabled the King and courtiers to watch the chase. The timber-framed building was renovated in 1589 and its name changed to the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge, although it is debatable if she ever actually visited the lodge.
Much later Queen Victoria declared the forest to be “the People’s Forest” as she passed control of the forest into the hands of the City of London Corporation where it remains to this day.
As well as lots of family fun through the summer they also hold self-led art and activity tables and trails linked to an exhibition about how the Forest was saved. There are Victorian hats to try on, historic games and drawing activities to take you back to the Epping Forest of your great, great, great grandparents.
So get along to The View and Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, Rangers Road, Chingford, London E4 7QH10am-5pm (closed on Mondays). Free. No booking required.
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