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MARKET TOWNS OF ESSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Epping in 1837

Epping is in the half hundred of Waltham, and on the high road from London to Norwich by Newmarket, 17 miles from London. The principal part of the town, called Epping Street, consists of a street extending more than half a mile in length, lined with irregularly built houses, and having in the centre a row of decayed mean-looking shambles. The church is situated two miles north-west of the street, and with the houses grouped round it constitutes what is distinguished as Epping Upland. The church is pleasantly situated on a rising ground : it is dedicated to All Saints, and is not distinguished by its architecture. In the ‘Street’ is a chapel of ease originally belonging to the abbot and monks of Waltham, to whom the great tithes had been granted, and who kept the parish in their own hands as a curacy. The chapel is now vested in trustees for the benefit of the inhabitants. It stands at the London entrance to the town, and has lately been rebuilt. There are places of worship in Epping for Quakers and Independents ; but that for the Quakers, though close to the town and virtually belonging to it, is in an adjacent parish. There are many inns in the place.

The parliamentary returns for 1831 assign to Epping an area of 5,250 acres, 429 inhabited houses, and 2,313 inhabitants, of which 83 houses and 427 inhabitants are in Epping Upland and the hamlet of Ryhill, the last in Harlow hundred. In Epping Upland four-fifths of the population is agricultural, in the whole parish about two-fifths. The neighbourhood of Epping is celebrated for butter, pork, and sausages, of which articles it furnishes a considerable supply to the metropolis. The market is on Friday. In the spring great numbers of suckling calves are brought to Epping market from Suffolk, and those parts of Essex where dairy farms are numerous.

The living of Epping is a vicarage in the peculiar jurisdiction of the Court of the Commissary of London, concurrently with the Consistorial Episcopal Court. Its yearly value is £729, with a glebe-house, the chapelry is of the yearly value of £120, arising from endowments.

The returns made to parliament in 1833 assign to the parish of Epping four infant or dame schools, with 50 children, eight boarding or day schools (one of them a charity school), with 343 scholars, and one Sunday school, with 70 boys. About 70 girls from this parish attend the national school of Thoydon Garnon or Theydon Gernon (two miles south-east of Epping Street), to which the parishioners of Epping contribute largely.

In the parish of Epping is Copped Hall, a mansion erected near the site of an older structure raised by the monks of Waltham Abbey when they had possession of the manor ; it was built near a century ago, and has since been much improved. It is one of the finest seats in the county. Near it are the remains of an ancient camp, probably British, now overgrown with trees, called Ambreys, or Ambersbury banks.

Epping gives title to Epping Forest, a considerable tract of waste land in the south-west part of the county. This forest was formerly called the forest of Essex, being the only forest in that county, the whole of which was anciently comprehended in it. By a charter of king John, dated 25th of March, in the fifth year of his reign, and confirmed in the eighth of Edward IV, all that part of the forest which lay to the north of the highway from Stortford to Colchester (very distant from the present boundaries) was disafforested. The forest was further reduced by a perambulation made in the twenty-ninth of Edward I, in pursuance of the Charta de Foresta ; but the metes and bounds of it were finally determined by an inquisition and perambulation taken on the 8th of September, 1640, by virtue of a commission under the great seal of England, in pursuance of an act of the 16th of Charles I, for settling the bounds of the forests. The boundaries as thus settled include the whole of the eleven parishes of Wansted, Leyton, Walthamstow, Woodford, Loughton, Chigwell, Lambourne, Stapleford Abbotts, Waltham Holy Cross, Epping, and Nazing, and parts of the ten parishes of Chingford, Stratford, East Ham, West Ham, Little Ilford, Great Ilford, Barking, Dagenham, Haverstock, and Theydon Bois. The extent of' the forest is estimated at 60,000 acres, of which 48,000 acres are estimated to be enclosed and private property ; the remaining 12,000 acres are the unenclosed wastes and woods. What is called Henhault, or Hainault forest, is a part of this waste. Tendring hundred had been disafforested by king Stephen before the grant of John mentioned above. Epping forest is much resorted to by Londoners in what are termed ‘gipsy parties ;’ and on the first Friday in July a kind of fair is held round the spot once occupied by an enormous oak called Fairlop oak. The fair retains the title of Fairlop Fair. On Easter Monday there is a stag-hunt much patronized by the inhabitants of London. The kennel for the hounds and the building belonging to the hunt were rebuilt several years ago at an expense of many thousand pounds.