Inventory Site Record

Epping Forest

Epping Forest (Waltham Forest)

Brief Description

Epping Forest is all that remains of the once extensive Forest of Essex that became the Royal Forest of Waltham, and is now a tenth of its size in 1641. Enclosure took place as farming and housing encroached, with the loss of commoners rights. Although a protest by commoners was staged in 1817, by the 1870s the Forest was much reduced. When the Corporation of London purchased land for its cemetery at Little Ilford in 1855 this brought commoner status; in 1871 the Corporation began proceedings against the various Lords of the Manor with interests in the Forest who wished to enclose it. This resulted in the Corporation's purchase of all the remaining areas and the 1878 Epping Forest Act conveyed ownership and responsibility to the Corporation. On 6 May 1882 Epping Forest was opened by Queen Victoria, who dedicated it 'to the enjoyment of my people for ever'.

Practical Information
Site location:
numerous access points
Type of site:
Public Open Land
Waltham Forest
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
football, cricket pitches, fishing, horse riding
Public transport:
Tube: Snaresbrook. Rail: Wood Street Walthamstow; Chingford

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/08/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

Epping Forest once covered a tract of land ten times greater than its current extent of 2,476 hectares. The powerful Abbeys of Barking and Waltham were both bordering the Forest and most of the land was owned by the monks until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Manors of Walthamstow and Higham were within the area of the Forest and since the C9th there were carefully regulated commoners' rights of grazing and felling, and it was also used for deer hunting, a favourite sport of the monarchy, particularly in the time of the Tudors and Stuarts. In the C17th changes took place during the Commonwealth and in 1653 an Act of Parliament to sell the Waltham Forest was disallowed by Cromwell and Forest rights were re-established at the Reformation, although tree-felling, gravel-digging and poaching increased into the early C19th. In 1817 a protest by commoners was staged although by the 1870s the area of Forest was much reduced.

When the Corporation of London purchased land for its cemetery at Little Ilford in 1855 this brought with it commoner status that was later beneficial to preserving the Forest. In 1871 the Corporation began its successful proceedings against the various lords of the manor with interests in the Forest who wished to enclose the forest. The Corporation then purchased all remaining areas of Forest land and in 1878 the Epping Forest Act was passed conveying ownership and responsibility to the Corporation of London. On 6 May 1882 Queen Victoria opened Epping Forest dedicating it 'to the enjoyment of my people for ever'. Since then the Corporation has brought back some areas of the forest as well as other land that remains as farming to provide a rural buffer around the forest.

The Forest is the largest area of public open space in Greater London; it extends 21 kms from Epping Lower Green in Essex in the north to Wanstead in the south and is up to 3.5km wide, two-thirds of which is woodland, the remainder open grazing and water; there are also remains of two Iron Age earthworks. A number of sports and recreational facilities have been provided by the Corporation, including football and cricket pitches and a golf course, as well as horse rides and fishing. Coppicing and pollarding have been re-introduced in some parts of the Forest.

A large part of the area of Epping Forest within Greater London is within the borough of Waltham Forest including Chingford Plain, Hawk Wood, Bury Wood and Pole Hill in the north of the borough, and also Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge (q.v.). Moving southwards are The Warren Pond and Whitehall Plain; Hatch Forest and Hatch Plain; Reed's Forest; Higham's Park (q.v.); Walthamstow Forest, Gilbert's Slade and Rising Sun Wood; Leyton Flats. Wanstead Flats (q.v.) and Lords Bush Wood and Knighton Wood (q.v.) are in the borough of Redbridge and areas around City of London Cemetery and Crematorium (q.v.) are in the borough of Newham.

Sources consulted:

Robert Burley, Meg Game, Mathew Frith 'Nature Conservation in Waltham Forest', Ecology Handbook 11 (London Ecology Unit, 1989); The Official Guide to Epping Forest (Corporation of London); Ian Dowling and Nick Harris, Images of London: Wanstead and Woodford, Tempus Publishing 2003, p51; William Addison, 'Epping Forest, Its Literary and Historical Associations' (J M Dent & Sons Ltd London, 1945, 1947 ed); Corporation of London, Epping Forest Management Plan 2004-2010 A Summary

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
Size in hectares:
403 in LBWF
Site ownership:
City of London Corporation
Site management:
Conservators of Epping Forest/Friends of Epping Forest
ancient, 1878 (acquired by Corporation of London)
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Metropolitan Importance
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Special Area of Conservation in parts; SSSI in parts
Other LA designation:

Epping Forest

Epping Forest, Chingford,

Click photo to enlarge.

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