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Epping Forest is a 2,400-hectare area of ancient woodland, and other established habitats, which straddles the border between Greater London and Essex

Overview[]

The area that became Epping Forest has been continuously wooded since Neolithic times. The area is thought to have been given legal status as a royal forest by Henry II in the 12th century. At the time it was part of the much larger Forest of Essex, which covered nearly all of the county. In physical terms (rather than legal terms), the Forest is thought to have declined to something like its modern extent in the early fourteenth century. In Tudor times, Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I may have hunted in the forest, though no documentary evidence has survived to prove it.  

The forest was principally used as a source of shipbuilding timber for the Royal Navy, which was taken overland to Barking Creek and then floated in rafts to the Royal Dockyards at Woolwich and Deptford. This exploitation continued until about 1725, when all the suitable oak trees had been felled.

With the arrival of railway stations in towns close to the forest from the 1850s, the working class people of East London began to use the forest for recreation on Sundays and public holidays, in ever increasing numbers. When Queen Victoria visited Chingford on 6 May 1882 she declared "It gives me the greatest satisfaction to dedicate this beautiful forest to the use and enjoyment of my people for all time" and it thus became "The People's Forest".  

Violet picnic

Violet and the cubs as the Poplar picnic

When Fred and Violet Buckle were young the parish picnic was held in Epping Forest and remembered it as the highlight of their youth and in Series 7 were put in charge of holding the picnic for their community. By the end of the episode they had achieved this and all of Poplar including the cubs spent the day in the countryside playing games, though Violet was concerned about people “tiddling” in the bushes. Tom and Barbara Hereward who had been away for a few months returned and won the three legged race.  

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