High Beach (or High Beech) is a village inside Epping Forest and is located approximately eleven miles north east of central London. It is the only settlement inside Epping Forest,[n 1] and falls within the civil parish of Waltham Abbey and the ward of Waltham Abbey High Beach in the Epping Forest District of Essex, and for statistical purposes forms part of the London Metropolitan Area and Greater London Urban Area.
High Beach is in the uplands of Essex, which reach heights of 110 metres (360 ft) above sea level on the western fringes of Epping Forest. Areas of the surrounding forest are also named High Beach or High Beech. However, individual smallholdings of land are given over to residential, agriculture and mixed uses, particularly beside the straight A-road which bisects it. Many of the forest paths are naturally gravel-lined with underlying deposits of Bagshot Sands. It is believed that the name High Beach came from an early description of the localised sand and gravel exposure in this part of the forest.
The Church of the Holy Innocents
Holy Innocents church is surrounded by forest. It was built in 1873 by Thomas Baring, replacing an earlier church which was located in Church Road around 1 mile away from the present church's location, and was designed by the architect Arthur Blomfield in the Early English style at the cost of £5,500. The 125 feet (38 m) tower and spire contains 13 hemispherical bells cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
In July 1837, poet John Clare's deteriorating mental disorder caused him to be admitted to the High Beach private asylum under the guidance of the enlightened Dr Matthew Allen. The poet, after suffering from depression, was invited as a guest to Allen's asylum. Clare spent four years at the asylum before escaping in July 1841. Alfred, Lord Tennyson lived at Beech Hill House from 1837 to 1840. During his short stay he may well have encountered Clare and other inmates. Tennyson was reported by a journalist as being "...delighted with the mad people...the most agreeable and the most reasonable persons he has met with."
Culture and community
Amenities include the church, primary school, horse riding school and three pubs: the Duke of Wellington, The Kings Oak and The Owl. Owned and managed by the London Borough of Waltham Forest, the Suntrap Forest Education Centre offers field studies and other activities to schools and other groups. [n 2] Epping Forest Visitors Centre in Nursery Road is one of three visitor centres in the forest that provide learning, tours, exhibits and recreational facilities.
Sport and forest walks
Courses and appropriate tracks for outdoor pursuits include horse riding, mountain biking, orienteering and seasonally there are running events. The 15 miles (24 km) Epping Forest Centenary walking route passes through the locality. The route was established in 1978 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Epping Forest Act 1878. Section 18 of the London Loop, a long distance footpath, can be joined at nearby Sewardstone.
In the late 2000's, there was a strong showing for Green Party - but they failed to accumulate enough votes to win the ward - the support for them has since diminished. In the 2019 Local Elections, the Conservatives won with 60% of the vote.
At Parliamentary level, the local Member of Parliament is Eleanor Laing of the Conservative Party. In 2017, she was re-elected with 31,462 votes (62%). This was the highest numerical vote share for a Conservative candidate in 25 years.
- Chingford railway station is approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) away.
- Loughton tube station is approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) away.
- Essex bus route 505 (Saturdays only) serves the A112 Sewardstone Road, approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) away, as does London bus route 215, but only as a summer extension.
Notes and references
- Grid reference Finder measurement tools
- Ordnance survey website
- Essex rock Retrieved 9 February 2011
- Whitechapel foundry Retrieved 31 January 2011
- History of High Beach church Retrieved 09 March 2016
- Dr Matthew Allen Retrieved 15 February 2011
- John Clare Retrieved 15 February 2011
- High Beech primary school Retrieved 22 February 2011
- High Beech riding school Retrieved 22 February 2011
- The Robin Hood is thought of as in High Beech, but is actually in Loughton.High Beech public houses Retrieved 22 February 2011
- The Suntrap Forest Education Centre Retrieved 24 February 2011
- p7 Fred Speakman Retrieved 24 February 2011
- Epping Forest Visitor Centre Retrieved 24 February 2011
- King's Oak speedway Retrieved 7 March 2011
- Epping Forest Centenary Walk Retrieved 7 March 2011
- Epping Forest Act 1878 p3 Retrieved 7 March 2011
- High Beach CC Retrieved 3 July 2014
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