Epping Forest & Epping Forest Visitor Centre

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Listed in Nature Reserves & Woods, Parks, Wildlife and Nature, Places to Go


Epping Forest is the largest public open space in the London area, at almost 6,000 acres. It stretches 12 miles from Manor Park in East London to just north of Epping in Essex. As well as being a popular area for recreation and enjoyment it is also of national and international conservation importance with two thirds of it being designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

In the second half of the 19th century large areas of the Forest were being inclosed for development, with scant regard for commoners’ rights or general recreational needs. Such was the City of London’s concern over this that it joined forces with the commoners who had the right to graze their animals on the Forest and cut wood, and fought a legal battle against the inclosures, culminating in two ground-breaking Acts of Parliament passed in 1878. One of these entrusted the ownership and care of Epping Forest to the City, with the second making similar provision for other open spaces under similar threat. The Epping Forest Act of 1878 appointed the City of London as the Conservator of Epping Forest and its strictures still govern how the Forest is managed today.

Epping Forest now combines the roles of scenic open space, important wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. It hosts numerous events and activities. There are three Forest Centres spread across Epping Forest, Epping Forest Visitor Centre in the north at High Beach, a well-established beauty spot; Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge in Chingford, a Tudor timber hunt-standing dating from 1543; and in the south, The Temple, dating from the 1760s, set in Wanstead Park, once the formal gardens of the magnificent Wanstead House.

Epping Forest Visitor Centre

The Epping Forest Visitor Centre is now open seven days a week and has an extensive stock of ‘woodland gifts’, soft toys, local crafts, maps, books and booklets. Staff are on hand to answer your every query about the Forest.

The Visitor Centre should be your first port of call to find out about the facilities the Forest has to offer. You can apply for a Riding Licence or pick up information from our selection of leaflets and guides. It also our booking office for a variety of events including guided walks, children’s activities and open-air theatre.

Don’t miss the children’s table, viewing point for the bird feeder, handling collection of natural finds and our digital displays.


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