Epping Forest: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Epping Forest.

  • Epping Forest is an area of woodland, on the border of Essex and Greater London. The area of woods, heath, rivers and bogs covers 2,476 hectares.
  • As well as hiking and bird watching, horse riding and mountain biking are both popular in Epping Forest. Every September the Epping Forest Centenary Walk commemorates the saving of the forest as a public space.

  • About 60 percent of the forest has been made a site of special scientific interest.
  • The forest is home to deer, cattle, lizards, grass snakes and an estimated 10 species of bat.
  • Epping Forest is well known for its huge, thick trees which are unique to the area.  They were once pollarded but have since been allowed to grow. The trees have not been cut since the Epping Forest Act was passed at the end of the 19th century.
  • During the 12th century Henry II declared Epping Forest to be a Royal Forest. Local people could graze animals although only the King was allowed to hunt in the forest.
  • In 1543, Queen Elizabeth‘s hunting lodge was built in the forest. The Royals would look for deer from the upper floors of the timber framed building and shoot them with crossbows.
  • There are 6 other historic buildings in the forest, including the Temple. An 18th century classically designed building built as a garden decoration.
  • Queen Victoria declared the forest to be the people’s forest and even today local people have certain rights. They can gather firewood and graze cattle in the forest during the summer.
  • The infamous highwayman Dick Turpin had a hideout in Epping Forest, which is today known as Turpin’s Cave.
  • Barnaby Rudge, a book by Charles Dickens, begins with a description of Epping Forest.
  • The City of London oversees the historic forest, even though it is about 20 km from the City. A force of special constables, known as the Epping Forest Keepers, has the task of managing the space.

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