The ancient parish of Chigwell

August 26th 2018
By: Melanie Hollidge
The ancient parish of Chigwell

People move to Chigwell, Loughton and Woodford not only enjoy the Essex countryside but to still have access to all the benefits of the City. Ancient Chigwell is at the centre of the development of this bit of North East London. It lay on the south-west corner of Ongar hundred, on both banks of the Roding, at a distance of 12 miles from London. The ancient parish had an area of 5,009 acres.  

There were three distinct sections back then; the village of Chigwell, on the east side of the Roding, was the main settlement and included the parish church. Chigwell Row, a mile south of the village, was a roadside hamlet on the edge of Hainault Forest. The third section was Buckhurst Hill, 1½ miles from the village on the west bank of the river. Until the 19th century, much of Buckhurst Hill was within Epping Forest and there were only a few scattered houses in that part of the parish before more modern development took place. 

For ecclesiastical purposes, the ancient parish was divided by the formation of the district of Buckhurst Hill in 1838 and that of Chigwell Row in 1860. Both these districts became separate ecclesiastical parishes in 1867.  Buckhurst Hill was made a separate urban district in 1895.  Chigwell and Chigwell Row together constituted the civil parish of Chigwell from 1895 until 1933, when that parish was merged with the Urban Districts of Buckhurst Hill and Loughton to form the new Urban District of Chigwell.  

Chigwell was formerly in the forest of Essex and two small patches of woodland still exist within the area of the ancient parish. Lords Bushes at Buckhurst Hill cover 90 acres belonging to Epping Forest. At Chigwell Row, there are some 50 acres which form part of Hainault Forest. For several centuries the south-west end of the parish and Chigwell Row has been predominantly residential, while the rest of the parish has always been devoted to agriculture. 

Modern development has emphasized this contrast. Buckhurst Hill and much of Chigwell Row have been built up but Chigwell village has retained its rural appearance making a delightful place to live.