Sunday, November 29, 2015


I am now at Chigwell, the 10th station on the Central line and part of the loop.
It is about 12 miles from Central London and my first impression is that once again I am in the countryside. It is thought the name comes from the Anglo Saxon 'Cicca's well' which no longer exists. The village of  Chigwell was first mentioned in the Domesday Book which was a a survey of land ownership and population in England and Wales carried out in 1086. Further surveys showed that in 1391 there were 72 houses in the parish.

Looking towards the next station at Grange Hill
Looking back towards Roding Valley station.

The station was built in 1903 and has changed little since then. Walking out of the station onto the High Road you are in the heart  of Chigwell Village. The village was once on the main coaching route between London and Chipping Ongar and is now a conservation area with its large number of expensive Georgian houses.

A sign outside the station tells me this is part of the London Loop (London Outer Orbital Path). It is section 20 out of 24 and is the most rural section of the whole walk. I turned left out of the station. and walked along the High Road.

Chigwell stands on the route of a Roman Road from London to Dunmow in Essex.  Roman roads are the straightest roads we have in the UK. Nowadays there are many elegant and expensive houses along this road.

This is Chigwell Lodge, a Grade II listed building.  Built in the late 18th Cent building it has a small bell tower which was added in the 19th Cent. I can't find out whether there was a reason for the bell tower or whether it is a decorative feature.

You can see why many roads leading from the village have been nicknamed Millionaire's row. There are so many of these large gated properties on this road. Looking in local estate agents, prices seemed to start at £1,000,000 and go up from there!

 Further along the road is a family run Garden Centre,which has been here 50 years

Across the road from the garden centre is Chigwell golf course which  is well known to golfers in Essex. Built in 1925, it is known for its long holes and many hazards such as the mature trees that line the fairways.

After the golf course I turned and walked back towards the station and  to the main part of the village, passing this flint fronted house on the way.

Just passed the station is a small row of shops on Brook Parade. You can tell a lot about a neighbourhood from the local shops, This parade has beauty salons, boutiques and a delicatessen rather than cheap takeaways and discount shops. Across the road from the shops was a small recreation ground with a children's playground.

Just back from the road is the library which  unfortunately was closed when I visited, so I was unable to do any local research.
Next to the library is Chigwell Men's Club. An unusual name in this day and age of gender equality.

Look at the open fields behind the library and the men's club giving you an idea how rural it is here.

Continuing along the High road I crossed Chigwell Brook which flows into the Roding river that I walked along when I visited Roding Valley station.

This is the long drive to the Met Police sports ground. There is supposed to be a good cafe here but I didn't have the time to find out. Maybe next time.

 St Mary's Church. Little now remains of the original 12th century church, however, the bell tower with its shingled spire dates back to 1475.

Next to the church is this granite wheel cross is a war memorial commemorating 39 men who lost their lives in the 1st WW and 29 who died in the WW2.

Across the road from the church is The King's Head which was built in 1547 and is now a restaurant owned by Lord Sugar's property company. However it has had a more famous admirer in Charles Dickens. He said of the inn, 'Chigwell is the greatest place in the world. Such a delicious old inn opposite the churchyard, such a lovely ride, such beautiful forest scenery, such an out-of-the-way, rural place, such a sexton.' Dickens loved it so much he  used the inn in his novel 'Barnaby Rudge' and called it 'The Maypole', describing it as 'having more gable ends than a lazy man would care to count on a sunny day.'

The inn was also used by the 18th cent highwayman Dick Turpin who started his criminal life poaching deer from the nearby forest.

!8th Cent, mock Tudor timber framed house which used to be the Chigwell Village store

These two 18th cent houses were also shops at one time.

Further along the High Street is Chigwell School, a public school, founded in 1629 by Samuel Harsnett, Archbishop of York. Among its past pupils is William Penn who became the founder of Pennsylvania. The original 17th cent school room where Penn was taught still exists and is now the library.

If you are thinking of sending your child here then expect to pay £16,000 per year and if you want them to board then it would cost £26,500

 Next to the school are these almshouses. Almshouses are houses owned and managed by charitable trusts and are for the benefit of elderly people who can no longer work to earn enough to pay the rent. These were originally built to house four poor widows in the parish.

They are known as Coulson's almshouses, believed to have been founded by Thomas Coulson in about 1557. They were rebuilt in 1858

Monday, November 23, 2015

Roding Valley

This is the 9th station I have now visited on the Central Line on my 'Above the Underground' challenge. Roding Valley is the first of the stations on the Central Line loop.

There are 9 stations altogether on the loop but Roding Valley is the least used station not just on the Central Line but on the whole of the Underground network. It is also one of just 12 stations on the network  that doesn't have any exit or entrance barriers on either side of the station. This is the first station on this line that doesn't have a car park.
And yes, it was deserted when I arrived. As well as not having any barriers there are no members of staff here either. Of course, the station has CCTV and a button to press if you wish to speak to a member of staff. Having said that, the station was clean and even had a toilet and waiting room.
I began my look around the area by exiting from the front entrance. Other than a row of shops there wasn't much of interest to note. I decided this would be a short visit.

The obligatory hairdressers was amongst the shops as well as a newsagent that seemed to sell many items besides newspapers and sweets. I did ask if he knew of any buildings or places of interest but I was met with a blank expression.

Walking over the bridge it was possible to see where the branch line for the central line loop leaves the main line which carries on towards Epping.

I walked along the road which is named Forest Edge which gives you a bit of a clue as to what is beyond the line of trees. This section of Epping Forest is surrounded by housing. It is divided into two sections . One called Knighton Wood and the other is Lord's Bushes separated by Monkham's Lane. Knighton Wood was once part of the Buxton Estate and became an established ornamental garden with ponds, shrubs etc. After the death of the owner in 1930 the land was returned to Epping Forest. However  remnants of the ponds, bamboo and rhododendron bushes still remain.

Altogether the woodland covers some 53 hectares and is a beautiful area of mature trees with lots of accessible paths, ideal for walking

After enjoying a walk through the woods I walked back to the station

and wandered off in the opposite direction

At the end of Station Road is the Monkhams public house built at the turn of the 20th cent.


Crossing the road I made my way down Squirrels Lane and across the sports field as I wanted to look at the River Roding.

I didn't quite expect to see such a wonderful viaduct almost hidden away. As I was just admiring the structure, the iridescent blue flash of a kingfisher flashed past. I felt I had struck gold and found the hidden treasures of the area around Roding Valley Station.

I continued walking along the track which widened out into Luxborough Lane

Further along the lane was the Old Loughtonians' Hockey Club with its bright blue pitches. Across the Lane from the Hockey club there used to be a football training ground for one of the London clubs - Tottenham Hotspurs (aka Spurs) but they moved in 2012 to their new training ground in Enfield.

I then had to walk across a bridge over  M11, a 55 mile motorway which runs North from the North Circular Road in South Woodford  to the A14 near Cambridge. I have driven beneath this bridge many times on my journeys North but how different it will now feel as I drive along knowing what is either side of the bridge.

Time to make my way back to the station.

Close to the back entrance to the station is this small row of shops.The shops didn't inspire me. In fact on closer inspection they were more business premises than shops - therapy centre, accountants, hairdressers. But there was something about the last shop in the row that made me have a closer look, possibly because I couldn't work out what it was selling.

It turned out to be gun shop. There are very strict laws about gun ownership in the UK but according to their website this shop has been here since 1950 and is one of the largest gun shops in Essex although it seems a lot of their trade is in air rifles which are used for clay pigeon shooting..

Back at the station I crossed the bridge to the other platform to catch the tube back into London and before you ask, no there was no-one else at the station waiting for the train!
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