A Topographical Dictionary of England (1831) by Samuel Lewis

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"EPPING, a parish comprising the market-town of Epping, and the chapelry of Epping-Upland, in the hundred of WALTHAM, and the hamlet of Ryhill, in the hundred of HARLOW, county of ESSEX, and containing 2146 inhabitants, of which number, 1688 are in the town of Epping, 17½ miles (W. by S.) from Chelmsford, and 16 (N. E. by N.) from London, on the road to Newmarket.

This place, which is of some antiquity, was given by Henry II. to the monks of Waltham abbey, but reverting to the crown, it became afterwards a part of the duchy of Lancaster.

The town is pleasantly situated near the extensive forest to which it gives name, and consists of two parts, one near the church, called Epping-Upland, and the other nearly a mile and a half to the south-east of it, called Epping-Street, in which the market is held; the latter is a spacious street, nearly a mile in length, having at the west end a newly erected chapel, and in the centre a range of shambles, which are much decayed and of mean appearance; the houses are irregularly built, but the town being, from its situation, a great thoroughfare and place of traffic, it possesses some good inns.

Epping is celebrated for its butter, of which large quantities are sent for the supply of the London market, where, from the excellence of its quality, it maintains a superiority in price; the pork and sausages of this place are also in high estimation.

The market is on Friday: the fairs are on the Tuesday in Whitsun-week, which is but thinly attended; November 13th, a very considerable fair for the sale of stock; and on the 11th of October, a statute fair for hiring servants. Courts leet and baron are held annually under the lord of the manor.

The living is a vicarage, in the peculiar jurisdiction of the court of the Commissary of London concurrently with the Consistorial Episcopal Court, rated in the king's books at £17. 13. 4., endowed with £600 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of Henry John Conyers, Esq. The church is dedicated to All Saints. A small chapel of ease has been recently erected.

There are places of worship for the Society of Friends and Independents; the former, though bordering on the town is in an adjoining parish.

A National school and a Sunday school, are supported by subscription.

Adjoining the town is Epping Forest, a royal chase, comprehending an extensive tract, anciently called the Forest of Essex, subsequently Waltham Forest, and at present deriving its name from the town. Its original limits have been gradually contracted, many thousand acres having been thrown into cultivation, and numerous handsome villas erected: among these, Copped Hall, the seat of John Conyers, Esq., built on the site of an ancient structure raised by the monks of Waltham abbey, when they had possession of the manor, is a noble edifice, and one of the chief ornaments of the county; it is situated in the centre of a fine park, of nearly four thousand acres, planted with every kind of forest trees, among which is a cedar of Libanus of extraordinary beauty. The forest is under the jurisdiction of a lord warden, whose office is hereditary in the family of the late Sir James Tilney Long, Bart., and four verdurers, who are elected by the freeholders of the county, and retain their office for life: the forest rights vary according to the particular tenure prevailing in the different manors included in the district. Though so near the metropolis, wild stags are still found here, and one is annually turned out on Easter-Monday for the Epping Hunt, which has been long established, and is still well supported: the kennel for the hounds, and other buildings connected with the hunt, have been recently re-erected at an expense of several thousand pounds. On that part near Barking, called Hainault Forest, where a society for the revival of archery established their meetings, was an oak of extraordinary dimensions, called Fairlop Oak, the girth of which, at the height of three feet from the ground, was thirty-six feet, the branches extending over an area of three hundred feet in circumference. Round this tree a fair has for many years been held, on the first Friday in July, and is still numerously attended; it originated in the annual visit of an individual from London to dine with a select party of his friends under the shade of the Fairlop Oak, from the trunk of which he distributed a supply of beans and bacon to many poor persons who were attracted to the spot. On the forest was found a small earthen figure of a child, which was shewn to the Antiquarian Society in 1721."

From Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of England (1831) - copyright Mel Lockie 2016