Loughton is a town in Essex. It is found within the ring of the M25 and nestled to the west of the M11 motorway. Neighbouring Essex towns include Chingford, Waltham Abbey, Theydon Bois, Chigwell and Buckhurst Hill. Loughton includes three conservation areas and there are 56 listed buildings in the town, together with a further 50 locally listed.
The parish of Loughton covers an area of about 3,724 acres, of which over 1,300 acre are part of Epping Forest. The ancient parish contains over 3,900 acres. At the time of the 2001 census Loughton had a population of 30,340.
Junction 5 (south) of the M11 motorway linking Cambridge to London is accessed at Loughton's eastern boundary. The junction does not permit entry to the north-bound carriageway. The M11 was constructed in a number of phases beginning in the 1970s and finally opening in the 1980s.
The earliest structure in Loughton is Loughton Camp, an Iron Age earth fort in Epping Forest dating from around 500 BC. Hidden by dense undergrowth for centuries it was rediscovered in 1872.
The first references to the site of modern-day Loughton date from the Anglo-Saxon period when it was named as Lukintone ("Luhha's estate"). The earliest written evidence of this settlement is in the charter of Edward the Confessor in 1062 which granted various estates, including Tippedene (Debden) and Alwartune (Alderton Hall, in Loughton), to Harold Godwinson (later King Harold II) following his re-founding of Waltham Abbey. Harold died at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and his lands came into the hands of the Conqueror. Loughton is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, with the name Lochintuna / Lochetuna.
The settlement remained a small village until the early 17th century when the high road was extended north through the forest. The road quickly became the main route from London to Cambridge and East Anglia, and Loughton grew into an important stop with coaching inns. The most significant of the great houses of this period, built as country retreats for wealthy City merchants and courtiers, was Loughton Hall, owned by Princess Mary Tudor two months before she became Queen Mary I ("Bloody Mary") in 1553, and later by the Wroth family from 1578 to 1738. Sir Robert Wroth (c. 1576 – 1614) and his wife Lady Mary Wroth (1587 – c. 1652) entertained many of the great literary figures of the time, including Ben Jonson, at the house.
Loughton's growth since Domesday has largely been at the expense of the forest. Expansion towards the River Roding was arrested owing to the often flooding marshy meadows, encroachments into the forest to the north and west of the village were nevertheless possible. Loughton landlords and villagers both exploited the forest waste (open spaces and scrub of the forest), but the trickle of forest destruction threatened to turn into a flood in the 19th century after royalty had lost interest in protecting the woodland as a hunting reserve. As the forest disappeared and landowners began enclosing more of it for private use, many began to express concern at the loss of such a significant natural resource and common land. Some Loughton villagers defied landowners to practice their ancient right to lop wood—a series of court cases, including one brought by the Loughton labourer Thomas Willingale, was needed before the City of London Corporation took legal action against the landowners' enclosures, resulting in the Epping Forest Act of 1878 which preserved the forest for use by the public.
The arrival of the railway spurred on the town's development. The railway first came to Loughton in 1856 when the Eastern Counties Railway, (later the Great Eastern Railway), opened a branch line by way of Woodford. In 1948 the line was electrified and transferred to London Transport to become part of the Central Line on the London Underground. The arrival of the railways also provided visitors from London with a convenient means of reaching Epping Forest and thus transforming it into the "East Enders' Playground". The Ragged School Union began organising visits to the forest for parties of poor East End children in 1891 paid for by the Pearsons Fresh Air Fund. Loughton artist Octavius Dixie Deacon depicted many scenes of the town including some of its residents during the late Victorian period.
As the Great Eastern Railway Company did not offer workmen's fares, the town's development was of a middle-class character. Much of the housing in Loughton was built in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, with significant expansion in the 1930s. Loughton was a place à la mode for artistic and scientific residents in Victorian and Edwardian times, and a number of prominent residents were renowned socialists, nonconformists, and social reformers.
Debden in the north-east is a post-war development being one of the London County Council's country estates, built with the express purpose of co-locating industrial, retail and residential properties to facilitate supported re-location of London families affected by war damage within the capital.
About the town
Loughton is bounded by Epping Forest to the west and the River Roding valley to the east. After the Epping Forest Act of 1878 prohibited any further expansion of the town into the forest, the forest and the river have formed two natural barriers constraining any expansion westwards or eastwards, and consequently most of the growth in the last 100 years has been through infilling and construction of new housing estates to the north and south of the old town centre, plus the purpose-built suburb of Debden to the north-east.
The Roding valley is somewhat marshy and the river is prone to flooding, so construction close to the river is very limited and the majority of the land around it has been designated as a nature reserve or left as open space parkland. The M11 motorway that follows the course of the Roding along this section of its length is built on raised banks or flyovers, to avoid potential problems with flooding.
The highest parts of the town are the roads that border the forest's edge; from the green outside the Gardeners Arms pub near the junction of York Hill, Pump Hill and Baldwins Hill there are views of London, south-west Essex, Kent and Surrey. From here, on a clear day, there is a panoramic view of London landmarks and the North Downs beyond. There are numerous other fine views from different parts of the town, including one roughly at the junction of Traps Hill, Borders Lane, Alderton Hill and Spareleaze Hill, and another on Spring Grove and Hillcrest Road. In the valley between these two hills flows Loughton Brook, which rises in Epping Forest near Waltham Abbey and flows through the forest and Baldwins Pond before traversing the town and emptying into the Roding.
There are several distinctive neighbourhoods in Loughton mostly identifiable by the building types incorporated during their development:
The East 15 Acting School is based in Loughton. The school grew from the work of Joan Littlewood's famed Theatre Workshop based in Stratford, Essex (whose postcode is E15). The School became part of the University of Essex in 2000. It includes the Corbett Theatre, named after Harry H Corbett (1925–1982), himself a Theatre Workshop member and benefactor of East 15. The theatre building is actually a converted mediæval flint barn from Ditchling, Sussex which was dismantled and rebuilt in Loughton.
Amateur drama is performed mainly at Lopping Hall by the Loughton Amateur Dramatic Society, founded in 1924, which until 2006 alternated with those from the now-defunct West Essex Repertory Company, founded in 1945. Lopping Hall opened in 1884 and was paid for by the Corporation of London to compensate villagers for the loss of traditional rights to lop wood in Epping Forest, rights which were bought out when the management of the forest was taken over by the Corporation in 1878. Lopping Hall served as Loughton's town hall and was the venue for most of the parish's social – and especially musical - activities during the early 20th century. There are ambitious plans by the Trustees for the building's restoration by 2012. There is also a full-scale theatre, the College Theatre, on the campus of Epping Forest College.
Classical music has found a home in Loughton since the late 19th century, when there were regular concerts by the Loughton Choral Society in Lopping Hall under the redoubtable conductorship of Henry Riding. Today, performances are mainly at two venues, Loughton Methodist Church and St. John's Church. Loughton Methodist Church hosts the annual Loughton Youth Music Festival, which showcases talented pupils from local schools and colleges. St John's festival choir undertakes extensive overseas tours, and in turn hosts well-known soloists, chamber and operatic groups.
Roding Players is an amateur orchestra which gives three concerts a year in the Epping Forest area. Epping Forest Brass Band, founded in 1935, also has regular concerts in the Epping Forest area, and competes in national competitions and exhibitions.
The Loughton Music Academy was founded in 2001 to cope with the growing demand for music in the area.
Loughton Folk Club was founded on 28 October 2010 and held its first Loughton Folk Day on 9 April 2011.
The proximity of Epping Forest has made Loughton a magnet for artists for many years. The sculptor and painter Sir Jacob Epstein (1880–1959) lived at 'Deerhurst' between 1933–1950, and produced some of his best known works there. Artist John Strevens (1902–1990) lived at 8 Lower Park Road from 1963 until his death. Walter Spradbury (1889–1969), best known for his iconic interwar London Transport posters, lived nearby in Buckhurst Hill. Octavius Deacon was a 19th-century naïve artist from Loughton who painted many amusing scenes of village life. William Lakin Turner lived and painted at Clovelly, York Hill, Loughton, in the 1890s. From 1908 to 1936, William Brown Macdougall, artist, and his wife, the author and translator, Margaret Armour, lived in Loughton. Juggler Mark Robertson (1963–1992) lived at 'The Avenue' and had a highly successful career appearing at the London Palladium and on many TV shows.
There is a thriving Loughton Arts Club, and there are frequent exhibitions by contemporary local artists and photographers at Loughton Library. Loughton Camera Club, a member of the East Anglian Federation of Photographic Societies, meets at Lopping Hall in Loughton, and holds regular exhibitions of members' work in Loughton Library and elsewhere.
As with the visual arts, Epping Forest has long attracted and inspired writers. William Shakespeare|Shakespeare's]] Midsummer Night's Dream was written for the marriage of Sir Thomas Heneage Vice-Chamberlain of the Royal Household to the Countess of Southampton, who lived near Loughton at Copped Hall, where it was first performed in the long gallery in 1594.
Lady Mary Wroth (1586–1652), niece of poet Sir Philip Sidney, lived at Loughton Hall with her husband Sir Robert Wroth, and they turned the mansion into a centre of Jacobean literary life. Ben Jonson was a frequent visitor, and dedicated his play The Alchemist to Mary and poetry collection The Forest to Sir Robert. Lady Mary was an author of considerable repute in her own right, and her book Urania is generally regarded as the first full-length English novel by a woman.
Anthony Trollope (1815–1882) who lived for some time at nearby Waltham Cross, set part of his novel Phineas Finn (1869), which parodies corrupt electoral procedures, in a fictitious Loughton. Robert Hunter, lexicographer and encyclopaedist (1823-1897) built a house in Loughton, and there compiled his massive Encyclopaedic Dictionary.William Wymark Jacobs (1863–1943) lived at The Outlook, Upper Park Road before moving to Feltham House, Goldings Road. Best known as the author of the short story The Monkey's Paw. Jacobs also wrote numerous sardonic short stories based in 'Claybury', which is a thinly-fictionalised Loughton. Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) stayed as a child at Goldings Hill Farm. Arthur Morrison (1863–1945), best known for his grim novels about London's East End, lived in Salcombe House, Loughton High Road. Hesba Stretton (1832–1911) was a children's author who lived in Loughton. Hesba Stretton was the pen name of Sarah Smith; her novels about the street children of Victorian London raised awareness of their plight. Horace Wykeham Can Newte lived at Alderton Hall: he was a prolific novelist. Another children's writer, Winifred Darch (1884–1960), taught at Loughton County High School for Girls 1906–1935 (now Roding Valley High School), as did the hymnodist and poet, Emily Chisholm (1910–1991), who lived in Loughton.
Ruth Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh (born 1930), who lived in Shelley Grove, Loughton, was educated at Loughton County High School for Girls and subsequently worked as a journalist in Loughton at the West Essex Gazette. Some of her fiction is set in Epping Forest, and 'Little Cornwall', the hilly area of north-west Loughton close to Epping Forest, takes its name from her description in the novel The Face of Trespass.
Poets associated with Loughton include Sarah Flower Adams (1805–1848), and Sarah Catherine Martin (c. 1766 – 1826), author of the nursery rhyme "Old Mother Hubbard", who is buried in the churchyard of St Nicholas Church, Loughton. William Sotheby (1757–1833), poet and classicist, lived at Fairmead, Loughton. Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892) lived at Beech Hill House, High Beach 1837–1840 where he wrote parts of his magnum opus "In Memoriam A.H.H.". John Clare (1793–1864) lived at a private asylum at High Beach 1837–1841. The First World War poet Edward Thomas (1878–1917) also lived at High Beach 1915–1917. The poet George Barker (1913–1991) was born at 116 Forest Road, Loughton. Geoffrey Ainger (born 1925), who wrote the Christmas carols "Born in the Night", "Mary's Child", "Do Shepherds Stand" and several other hymns, was Methodist minister of Loughton 1958–63.
Sport and leisure
Loughton is surrounded by open countryside but has also many parks and open spaces.
- Athletics: Loughton Athletic Club. The club was founded in 1906, making it Britain's oldest athletics club.
- Bowls: Loughton Bowls Club
- Loughton Cricket Club, founded in 1879
- South Loughton Cricket Club, founded in 1938
- Fencing: Loughton Fencing Club
- Football: several teams
- Golf: Loughton Golf Club
- Horse-riding: Horse-riding is very popular in Epping Forest
- Mountain-biking: Epping Forest attracts large numbers of mountain bikers. Epping Forest was considered as a venue for the mountain-biking event of the 2012 Summer Olympics, which in the event went to Hadleigh Farm, also in Essex
- Orienteering and rambling: Several long-distance footpaths pass through Loughton, including the Forest Way and the London Outer Orbital Path. The most important event in the ramblers calendar in the area is the traditional Epping Forest Centenary Walk, an all-day event commemorating the saving of Epping Forest as a public space, which takes place annually on the fourth Sunday in September. West Essex Ramblers have over 1,000 members.
- Speedway - High Beach near Loughton is acknowledged by most speedway historians as being the first venue for speedway racing in the UK. The first event was staged on 19 February 1928.
- Swimming: Epping Forest District Swimming Club
- Tennis: Avenue Lawn Tennis Club
- Taekwondo: Loughton Taekwondo
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- "East 15:About". Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080513021926/http://east15.ac.uk/about/aboute15.shtml. Retrieved 27 June 2008.
- "Loughton Amateur Dramatic Society-History". http://www.lads.org.uk/. Retrieved 27 June 2008.
- "Music at LMC". http://www.music-at-lmc.org.uk. Retrieved 27 June 2008.
- "St John's festival choir". http://www.pnms.co.uk/sjfc/. Retrieved 27 June 2008.
- Loughton Folk Club
- Biography on official John Strevens website
- Hardy, Clare (24 November 2010), "Loughton: Popular artist's paintings to go under the hammer", Epping Forest Guardian (Brighton, East Sussex: Newsquest Media Group), http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/efnews/8684595.LOUGHTON__Popular_artist_s_paintings_to_go_under_the_hammer/, retrieved 29 May 2011
- "Epping Forest District Council". By Rail and Road: The Poster Art of Walter E Spradbury. 30 May 2007. http://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/news/2007/By_Rail_and_Road.asp. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
- Pewsey, Stephen (1995). Chigwell & Loughton: A Pictorial History. Chichester, West Sussex: Phillimore & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0-85033-939-1.
- Pewsey, Stephen (1996). Chigwell & Loughton in Old Picture Postcards. Netherlands: Europese Bibliotheek B.V.. ISBN 90-288-6218-8.
- Pond, Chris (2010). The Buildings of Loughton and Notable People of the Town (2nd revised and enlarged ed.). Loughton and District Historical Society. ISBN 1-905269-11-0.
- Pond, Chris; Pond, Caroline (2007). Walks in Loughton's Forest: Short Epping Forest Walks in and Around Loughton (2nd revised ed.). Loughton and District Historical Society. ISBN 1-905269-06-4.
- Pond, Chris; Strugnell, Ian; Martin, Ted (2006). The Loughton Railway 150 Years On: The Leyton-Woodford-Loughton Railway from Eastern Counties to Central Line. Loughton and District Historical Society. ISBN 1-905269-04-8.