BEGINNING life in the medieval period, Loughton Hall was initially owned by the Abbots of Waltham Abbey before passing into the possession of Mary Tudor prior to her ascension as Queen in 1553.

The royal link to the building would continue as it played host to a number of visits by Queen Elizabeth I who attended as a guest of the then occupiers, the Stoner family.

For more than 100 years the manor became the centre of an important and influential literary circle when it became the property of the Wroth family whose most famous member, the novelist Lady Mary Wroth, would regularly invite friends including poet laureate and playwright Ben Jonson and Sir Philip Sidney.

Eventually passing to the Whitaker family in 1745, the hall would descend through the family over the next 80 years with one of its residents, Anne Whitaker, proving a well-known benefactor giving her name to almshouses.

At this time the hall was known as a very imposing building with an interior stone staircase said to be designed by Inigo Jones.

In 1825 the building was passed to John Maitland, Lord of the Manor of Woodford, and then to his son, William Whitaker Maitland, who spent considerable sums of money on the hall only to see it destroyed by fire on December 11, 1836.

The site of the hall would remain dormant for 40 years before it was rebuilt by new owner, the Rev John Whitaker Maitland, the rector of Loughton, after he received £30,000 compensation from the City of London for its widespread scheme enclosing parts of Epping Forest.

Loughton Hall as we know it today was built in 1878 and is now a registered Grade II building.

Its architect was W Eden Nesfield who constructed the building in a Queen Anne style with three floors of red brick and a clay-tiled roof surmounted by a bellcote.

The entrance hall contains a Roman mosaic brought back from a European tour.

The new building served as a family home for the Maitlands and they would hold regular private theatrical performances, fetes and weddings there.

In 1881, staff at the building included a governess, nurse, cook, housemaid, schoolroom maid, kitchen maid, and nursemaid.

Family life at the hall would end, however, shortly after it passed to its final owner Sir John Whitaker Maitland who lived at the hall in some style until it was requisitioned by the army during the Second World War and used as an officers' billet.

During the war the hall and all its grounds were sold to London County Council which built the present Debden housing estate on much of the land.

Loughton Hall itself and its immediate grounds were transferred to Essex County Council which leased them to Debden Community Association.

The building was later given to Epping Forest College but fell into disrepair and is now derelict.