Book tells the tale of one man and his mission to transform the forest (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Forest verderer Richard Morris has written a book about William D'Oyley, the first superintendent of Epping Forest.
Whilst the name William D’Oyley may mean very little to most people, it is said that it is his passion which made a green space, which attracts millions of visitors each year, what it is today.
Now that a book has been written about the first superintendent of Epping Forest.
In the 1870s Epping Forest, as a natural beauty spot to be enjoyed by all, was at serious risk of enclosure by lords of the manor, who, at the time, saw land acquisition as a sign of wealth and power.
The City of London became involved in the fight to save the forest and by 1876 had purchased the manorial rights to most of it.
This battle is described in great detail by Richard Morris, forest verderer, who was inspired by the work of Mr D’Oyley, so much so, that he wrote the book about him.
Mr Morris believes that the work of the very first superintendent, who was born in Epping in 1812, helped to make the forest what it is today.
He said: “The City of London started to buy up the rights to the forest and by 1876 they decided that they needed somebody to look after the pieces of land.
"The job was to make sure there were no encroachments, no gypsies on the land, basically, to look after it.
“From D’Oyley’s appointment as forest superintendent you can read all of the minutes of the meetings of the City of London committees. I was fascinated when I read them because you can see that he was trying to improve the forest.
“He was keen to make new paths, roads and swamp areas. He was making Epping Forest a place for recreation for visitors.
“Prior to 1876 it was not looked after at all, really. He had a vision that it would be enjoyed by people.”
Mr D’Oyley, who was a talented surveyor before becoming superintendent produced detailed maps of his plans, and of the forest, which he left to the City of London for future generations to see.
Mr Morris said: “He had a great knowledge of the forest and he was an extremely talented surveyor.
“His greatest legacy is that he left more than 50 maps and that he understood that the forest needed to be made into a place for people.”
Mr D’Oyley spent just three years as superintendent, although had a lasting impact on the forest, according Mr Morris’ book.
The book, which was published this month, can be purchased at independent book stores across the district, including Loughton Book Shop, Epping Book Shop and directly from the Loughton Historical Society.
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