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Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge and The View

Unique Grade II* listed atmospheric timber-framed hunt-standing, commissioned by Henry VIII, with fine views of Epping Forest. Alongside is Epping Forest's main visitor centre, The View with displays about the history and ecology of the area.

Date

1543

Rangers Road, Chingford E4 7QH

Sun 10.30am-5pm. Illustrated talks on Epping Forest history at 11am and 3pm in The View. Last entry 4.45pm.

Chingford

97, 179, 212, 313, 379, 400

  • Bookshop at location
  • Free parking
  • Partial disabled
  • Regularly open to the public at no charge
  • Toilets available

QUEEN ELIZABETH’S HUNTING LODGE The 2,430 hectares of Epping Forest are a surviving fragment of the ancient Forest of Essex, which was created as a Royal Hunting Forest in the thirteenth century. Fairmead Park In 1540, Henry VIII dissolved the monastery at Waltham Abbey and laid claim to its lands within Waltham Forest. He ordered the creation of two Deer Parks, one near Chingford at Fairmead. Fairmead Park covered a substantial area. Henry VIII commissioned the building of a Great Standing within Fairmead. Located on Dannett’s Hill, this substantial standing was completed in 1543 to provide a viewing platform from where royal guests could watch the hunt. Constructed from massive oak timbers, this three-storey building with its integral stair tower demonstrates the skills and ingenuity of the royal carpenters who built it. Elizabeth I may have used the building as she hunted in the Forest on a number of occassions. In 1589, she ordered a survey of this standing as it was in disrepair. During the seventeenth century, the building was occupied by a Keeper and the sessions of the Manor Court were held in the upper room. The timber frame was covered with plaster and small windows inserted on each level. It became known as Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge at his time. The building was lived in by the Watkins family, who farmed nearby for several generations. They used the numerous wooden outbuildings as stores. The corporation of London acquired the buildling with the passing of the Epping Forest Act of 1878. Various programmes of work followed between 1882 and 1900 during which the frame was exposed and stained dark brown, additional decorative timbers and bargeboards were added, and the infill panels and windows replaced. In spite of this, the main structure survived almost intact. Many of the timbers are original, although there have been considerable modifications to the brickwork plinth and Elizabethan chimneystack. The only infill panels are those surviving in the stair newel, plus one or two examples removed in 1899 and retained. The ground floor and middle rooms were occupied by the Butt family until 1926 when the new lodge was built next door. The museum was then expanded to fit all three floors. A timber clad extension was added to the building which was then demolished in 1978. Various modifications to the stair tower were carried out and some of the external walls were replaced. Unfortunately, an inflexible infill material was used throughout the building which allowed water to penetrate the timber frame. A report in 1989 showed that the building was in poor condition. The timber frame particularly was extensively affected by insect and fungal decay and water penetration. Following this report the Conservators of Epping Forest determined that a programme of opening up and investigation should be carried out. Extensive renovation work took place in 1993. Architectural historian John McCann made a careful examination of each detail of the building to supplement his documentary research. It was found that many of the supporting joints required repair. Decayed timbers were removed and fresh pieces of oak supplied to fill the gaps. Victorian inflexible infill material was removed and replaced with wooden laths supporting a flexible daub containing lime and straw. The roof tiles were stripped off and re-hung, the brickwork re-pointed and the outer surface lime-washed. Weatherings to the roof were renewed in cast lead. Under the ‘swept valley’ between the main roof and stair tower, lead soakers were placed to ensure no water enters this vulnerable part of the roof. In addition to the 2,430 hectares of Epping Forest, the Corporation owns and maintains a further 1,618 hectares or 4,000 acres of open space within the London area. Taken from Epping Forest Infomation and Museum Service leaflet