In Georgian times Chingford was a small parish with a church on a hilltop serving a scattered community.

The population in 1801 was 612 and this had grown to 963 by the time of the 1851 census. This tells us there were 112 people living in 28 houses around Chingford Green. Over double that (298 people in 53 houses) lived on Kings Head Hill or at Low Street (Sewardstone Road) at the bottom of the hill. Chingford Hatch was the third settlement area with 152 people in 43 houses and there were others living at a few scattered locations.

More prestigious houses included Hawkwood, White Hall, Chingford Hall (Lower Hall Lane) and Rolls (near Larks Wood). Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge was no longer an important building, being the home of William Watkins, aged 63, Forest Keeper and Warrener. His son Charles, aged 33, who lived there with his parents was also a Forest Keeper. The lodge was isolated at the edge of the forest but with a road leading to the community around the Green which was called Maddox Lane.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Friday Hill House is now flatsFriday Hill House is now flats

St Peter & St Paul Church dated back to the 12th century but was falling into serious decay so that a new church was built in 1844 at Chingford Green. This was designed by Lewis Vulliamy and built largely at the expense of the Rector, the Rev. Robert Boothby-Heathcote who was lord of the Manor of Chingford Earls. Vulliamy had designed a new manor house for Heathcote on Friday Hill five years earlier. The 1851 census shows him as aged 44, born in Connington (Huntingdon), living at his new house with his wife, son aged seven, three daughters, a governess, butler, coachman, footman, cook, nurse, ladies maid and four other maids.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: The Bull & Crown was the centre of the community. Image: Chingford Historical SocietyThe Bull & Crown was the centre of the community. Image: Chingford Historical Society

The Bull and Crown dates back to the 18th century and was the centre of the community, often referred to as the Old Town Hall. William Bowden was shown as the landlord in the 1851 census, a widower aged 69 who had been born at sea. He was supported by a housekeeper, a housemaid and an ostler. The imposing building we see today was built c1898.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Ordnance Survey map of Chingford Green, Middlesex Sheet VIII, surveyed 1866, published 1868Ordnance Survey map of Chingford Green, Middlesex Sheet VIII, surveyed 1866, published 1868

Law and order at Chingford Green was maintained by Metropolitan Police Constable John Goodall, aged 38, who had come from Yorkshire with his family. His two older children had been born in Bradford but he had obviously lived in the area for at least six years as his younger children were born in Chingford. Shopkeepers at the Green included a baker, butcher, shoe maker, with a smith and farrier and there was a small post office.

In 1846-7 there were 48 boys and 50 girls at local church schools. A school for infants was started ten years later in Bull Lane and then in 1872-3 a new school was built on this site for 175 children. Bull Lane was renamed King’s Road in 1901 to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII. The 1851 ‘High Street’ is what we now know as The Ridgeway and Maddox Lane became Station Road.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Creswick Cottage and Carbis CottageCreswick Cottage and Carbis Cottage

The granite obelisk marking the line of the Greenwich meridian was erected on Pole Hill in 1824 and the view would have been very different with the houses of London far in the distance. The River Lea could be crossed at Cooks Ferry Bridge, now the route of the North Circular Road, but there was no public transport serving Chingford in 1851. It was a rural village with considerable farmland. William Humphrys, aged 63 and born at Woodford, is shown living at Chingford Green as a farmer of 220 acres with eight labourers and three boys working for him. George Mills, aged 58 and born in Chingford, farmed 34 acres with one labourer.

But the railway arrived in 1873 and housing development began to change the village for ever.

  • Georgina Green has been involved with local history in Redbridge, Waltham Forest and the Epping Forest area for 40 years and is the author of several local history books. She was elected a fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2021.