It is a long, relatively narrow strip of woodland that stretches from Forest Gate in East London out past Epping in Essex. Varying landscapes from steep wooded valleys to flat open plains is what helps make the forest so spectacular to visit.
Green open space is of such an immeasurable value to us, the importance of which is seeing somewhat of a revival in recent times as people are starting to reaffirm their relationship with the outdoors and the value it has on our mental and physical well being. Taken somewhat for granted by many the forest only exists nowadays because of strong governance, parliamentary protection and Royal decree. Over the centuries it has been enclosed for Royal hunting as well as a desire for land owners to lay claim to it.
One might expect that such lush green space is on prime farming land but it is the diverse nature and varying soil types that have been the saving grace over the centuries for the forests continued existence. The land that the forest stands on was of no real agricultural use so has stood untouched in the main for over a millennia.
Whilst not being of agricultural value it has been a valued natural resource for the villages and towns that lay within the parish boundaries of the forest and over the centuries local villages and towns have developed a social, economic and cultural tie that still exists today. There are still commoners that have right to graze cattle on the forest and they make up the electorate who elect their representatives to the ancient position of a Verderer. The position of a Verderer stretches back to the 1100’s and whilst there are a dwindling number of commoners the position of verderer has evolved to be one that represents the commoners and the wider public to the conservators who are the City of London.