Epping Forest has a vast and long history. The forest is ancient woodland and was formed after the last ice age in approximately 8000BC and covers 6,000 acres. The forest is on a ridge between the valley of the two rivers, Lea and Riding. The forest consists of heath, grassland, trees, bogs, ponds and rivers and is unsuitable for agriculture. The forest was given legal status as a Royal Forest by Henry II in the 12th Century so only Kings could hunt but the common people could graze animals, collect wood and food only. Epping forest was first known as Waltham Forest and the first record of the forest being called Epping was in the 17th century.
Within the forest there are many interesting historical sites and Ambresbury Bank is one. An Iron age fortification which faces Loughton Camp across a watershed, which was once an ancient boundary line. The fortification would have been made from wood and surrounded by banks and ditches, it is suggested that Amresbury was built with the trees being cleared. The ditch still holds water in winter and the site has its own spring. The fort was possible re-used by the real King Arthur to combat the Saxons.
It is suggested that Boudicca had links to Ambresbury banks and it she poisoned herself and her daughters here. It is thought that the last battle against the Romans took place in St Alban’s area (AD61) but nothing has been proven to suggest this is true, but a good folklore tale all the same. During the medieval period and later, trials suggest that it was used for quarrying sand and gravel and maybe an enclosure for cattle for travellers on their way to London markets.
Loughton Camp was built-in a wooden landscape in about 500 BC during the Iron Age. The shape of the camp is nearly oval. It is thought the camp was probably used as a refuge site rather than a place to live. It is thought it was used by the Trinovantes to defend against the Catuvellaun. Other suggestions say the camp was used as a fortification for cattle as an Iron Age grain mill was found close by. Suggestions of Boudicca at this Camp as well but are unfounded. By 1872 the camp was forgotten and was over grown and re-discovered. At the SW edge, the edge fall at an angle and is known as Kate’s Cellar, Kate was thought to be an old homeless Hermit during the 18th and 19th century and lived here..
The Queen Elizabeth Lodge is at the southern end of the forest and is open to the public. Henry VIII built a building called Grand Standing, so he could observe the Royal Hunt at Chingford. Many monarchs were visitors. Henry VIII stayed at Poteles a hunting lodge with Anne Boleyn. James I stayed at Loughton Hall in 1605. The lodge was repaired and renovated for Elizabeth I in 1589. AS well as monarch staying in Epping there were many famous military and literary figures staying during the 17th-19th Century but there is too many for me to list. Not forgetting the famous highwayman, Dick Turpin.
Epping was full of highwayman including Dick Turpin and he was described as an average height man, marked with smallpox. During 1733-34 he was a butcher in Buckhurst Hill. During 1734 Turpin roasted a widow called Shelley until she confessed where her money was. Turpin was also into deer poaching and house burglaries. Residents in the area built a Turpin trap, which consisted of a heavy wooden flap, which was let down over the top of the stairs and jammed with a pole against the upstairs ceiling. Some Turpin traps survived until the middle of the 19th Century. Turpin worked in a cave in the forest, he hide, watching the road and robbed anyone that passed the cave he hide in. Local pedlars carried weapons and in 1737 a bounty was put on Turpin’s head, which saw Turpin murder, due to a game keeper tracking him down, when challenged, Turpin shot him.
Turpin forced a man called Major to exchange horses, Tom King came to collect the horse in a stable and was arrested. Turpin shot King by mistake instead of the constables holding King. King then provided the constables with enough information before he died, so Turpin could be hunted. Turpin then lived rough in the forest and late moved to Yorkshire. There are many suggestions as to where Turpins Cave is, it is often thought it is at Loughton Camp but no evidence has been found even thou it was shown on an early 19th Century map. It is highly suggested the cave is next to what was the Turpin Inn which is no longer there but a housing estate is now on that area. Other suggestions are at the edge of Bostall Woods in Plumstead and near Rammamere Heath at Aylesbury.
The Church of the Holy Innocents is at High Beach and was built-in 1873. It is thought it was replacing an older building on site but other research suggests it was to replace St Paul’s on Church Street. The church was built by Thomas Baring (of Baring Brothers Bank) at a cost of £5,500. The church initially was only licensed for Sunday services and baptism while St Paul’s still performed weddings. The church was not concentrated until 1883 and shortly after was given a parish church status. St Paul’s was demolished in 1885. The church was named due to Baring having children that died in infancy. The journalist and author Arthur Morrison is buried here.
Hangman’s Hill is probably the most talked about area in Epping, as cars seem to roll up a slight hill with the engine off, being in neutral without brakes even thou balls and other items roll down the hill. Most say this is an optical illusion. This hill is known as a gravity or magnetic hill and the simple answer is, the downward slope appears upwards, so it is an optical illusion.
I have missed some places off but I hope I have picked the main areas of interest and I will briefly go over some other interesting information. It is suggested that bodies have been dumped and buried in the forest, by the like of the Krays and probably a lot more. There has been some murders, the most well-known became known as ‘Babes in the Wood’ Susan Blatchford aged 11 and her friend Gary Hanlon aged 12 vanished from London in March 1970 and their bodies were later found in Epping Woods.
Ghosts of Epping Forest – The most famous are Boudicca, Dick Turpin and poltergeist activity is reported. At High Beach an outline of a man wearing a tricorn hat (three-cornered hat) and a cape on a black horse have been seen. At the Wake Arms roundabout between Epping and High Beach, which is an accident hotspot, A headless biker and a horse-drawn mail-coach is seen at midnight. At Hangmans Hill it is thought that 3 men were hanged but were wrongly accused and were actual innocent. Figures of a man seen in the wooded area of hangman’s hill and screams are heard. At Loughton Camp, drumming have been heard and deep groaning.
At Hollow Ponds at Wanstead a dark figure 4ft high has been seen. Highams Park Lake, a grey lady is supposingly looking for her lost soul. At High Beach, black shuck has been seen. Epping road, no specific location I could find, horses and carriage heard but nothing is seen. Epping High Road at the roundabout a girl in a white coat and a ride less horse is seen.
The Church of the Holy Innocents has thought to have satanic rituals, cannibalism, tribal warfare and a grey figure seen on the road. People frightened/screaming/running from the wooded area at the back. Heavy and negative energy, feeling of sickness, a small hooded figure seen in the middle of the road. Problems with car engines around different areas of the forest.
I have investigated some parts of Epping forest through Norwich paranormal experience group and we joined with Luton Paranormal Society. This is a short account of Npeg’s and LPS findings on the night. The church of the Holy Innocents woods, a feeling of sickness, oppressive atmosphere, disorientation, items appeared that were not there earlier, a heavy feeling and feeling of tiredness. The churchyard, headaches and tiredness, no one liked the woods more than the churchyard.
The path leading to Loughton Camp, a dog type creature was sensed, a white figure seen in the woods and footsteps were heard. A white vertical line about 1 metre in length was seen. At Loughton Camp, lights were seen in all areas of the camp and the feeling of being lifted. The feeling of a male standing close behind us, the name of Robert. Problems with the walkie talkies, blue lights seen, marching heard and black shadows seen. Shouting heard, pin prick lights, something was seen hiding behind the trees, kept moving and hiding behind the trees, it human size but no noise with the movement. Mists and a female figure seen by more than one person and this figure’s face was disfigured. Dictaphone recordings from LPS recorded a strange rhythmic sound. One light was seen moving from left to right and followed by another light moving from right to left. A human cry was heard and a sound of 2 slaps were heard.
Orange lights were seen and then 4 people at the same time saw 4 figures, clear as looking at a human, but were moving like they were floating, carrying lanterns and looked like they were from a different time period, we all stood speechless and then the figures just disappeared. There was no logical explanation for what we saw, we went through every explainable possibility and there is none to this day I can not explain it. This was a great night and a night I will never forget and we still talk about the figures from a different time period, I will be going back to Epping. If you want to investigate Epping please be aware that you do need permission by obtaining a licence, which can be done through the council.
Copyrighted by Tracy Monger