Inventory Site Record

Larkswood Park (Waltham Forest)

Brief Description

Larkswood Park comprises Larkswood Playing Fields and Larks Wood, an area of semi-ancient woodland that is a remnant of a much larger tract of woodland that once included Epping Forest. The wood is on hilly ground, with fine oak and hornbeam trees, and known for its bluebells displays, which in the early C20th attracted crowds of visitors. Larkswood Park was created by Chingford Borough Council in 1936, at which time an open air pool 'with accommodation for 2,500 bathers' was provided, built on the site of Larks Farm at a cost of £24,000. Designed for racing and water polo, it was considered one of the finest open-air pools in the country and was opened on 28 July 1936 by Sir Kingsley Wood, Minister of Health. However, in 1987 the pool was finally closed.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Larkswood Playing Fields, Larks Wood
Site location:
New Road/Larkswood Road, Chingford Hatch
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Park
Waltham Forest
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
See Larkswood Leisure Park for details of facilities.
Public transport:
Rail: Highams Park. Bus: 212, 444, W16
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.walthamforest.gov.uk

Full Site Description

Larks Wood and Ainslie Wood were once part of the Manor of Chingford Earls, acqujired by Henry VIII in 1544. The last owner of the manor was the Boothby Heathcote family, who lived at Friday Hill House (q.v.), Larkswood was owned in c.1920 by Charles Roper, a dairy farmer who also owned Highams Park and Hale End cricket grounds. The Friends of Ainslie Wood and Larks Wood was formed in December 2004. Both woods have oak, hornbeam and the rarer wild service tree. Also some hazel, crab-apple, field maple, hawthorne, blackthorn and rowan can be seen around the woods. Larks Wood is also home to beech and a few wild cherry trees.

After the closure of the Lido in 1987, it was briefly used for other water-based activities: between August 1990 and January 1992 FantaSeas, a futuristic indoor waterpark, occupied the site until it closed with huge debts following a number of accidents. It briefly re-opened as The Hydropark, but for the next decade the site was unused and left to become derelict until it was developed as Larkswood Leisure Park. This new facility opened in 2002, with a range of sports and other recreational facilities, including swimming.

Sources consulted:

Victoria County History of Essex; Chingford Notes; Robert Burley, Meg Game, Mathew Frith 'Nature Conservation in Waltham Forest', Ecology Handbook 11 (London Ecology Unit, 1989); https://www.lostlidos.co.uk/2011/07/11/chingford-larkswood-pool/

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ379926 (538228,192593)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Waltham Forest
Site management:
Urbaser Ltd as part of the Street Care and Associated Services contract with LB Waltham Forest; Friends of Ainslie and Larks Woods
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 - Borough Importance I
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

Larkswood Park

Larks Wood, April 2020. Photograph Sally Williams

Larkswood Playing Fields, April 2020. Photograph Sally Williams
Bluebells in Larks Wood, April 2020. Photograph Sally Williams

Click a photo to enlarge.

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.