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Epping Forest, Essex

Historical Description

Epping Forest is an extensive tract of woodland which formerly formed part of the Waltham Forest, a favourite hunting-ground for the Norman, Plantagenet, and Tudor kings. A portion of its area was disafforested in the reign of King John, and other portions were enclosed later, but when its boundaries were determined in 1640 no fewer than 60,000 acres remained. During the next two centuries this extent was greatly diminished by Crown grants and unauthorised enclosures, until in 1863 it seemed likely that the whole would soon disappear. At this juncture the corporation of the city of London undertook the defence of the rights of the public, and, after a long and bitter struggle with the landgrabbers, and the expenditure of over o£256,000, the small remaining portion of the forest was secured in 1882 and set apart as an open space for recreation and enjoyment. The forest, which is under the care of the corporation, now consists of about 5600 acres, covering an area of nearly 9 square miles. Though greatly injured by enclosures and the wholesale destruction and mutilation of the trees which has taken place, it is still a very interesting place alike to the lover of scenery and the student of natural history. The forest trees include comparatively few varieties, being chiefly oaks, hornbeams, and beeches, most of them closely pollardedy but here and there some very fine specimens may be foundi It is very rich in flowering plants, and it produces an unrivalled variety of fungi. Lichens, mosses, and orchids are also numerous and beautiful. Being strictly guarded by the corporation, the forest affords shelter to an immense number of birds, and it is a favourite hunting-ground for entomologists, many insects of extreme rarity being found here, and it is said nearly every variety of English butterflies. The forest is very easy of access from London, the G.E.R. having several stations on its borders, the more important being those at Wood Street, Chingford, Loughton, Theydon Bois, and Epping.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Essex is available to browse.

The Essex pages from the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 is online.


Online maps of Epping Forest are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering Essex online: