Monday, 12 March 2012


or rather Henrician, as it dates from 1543.  This is the structure that gave William Morris his love of ancient buildings when as a lad he rambled there on his pony from Walthamstow, and led in time to SPAB and English Heritage and the whole conservation movement.   The solid timber three-floor building on the southern edge of what's left of  Epping Forest has now undergone a complete 'English Heritage' makeover [ by City of London to current EH specifications]  complete with waxwork-style foods and costumes to try on.  Very small, but free entry and done in a robust Tudorbethan style, the exterior all now lime-washed to cancel the Victorian black-and-white half-timbering which was apparently rotting the wood.   It's in the process of acquiring a brand-new visitor centre next door built in the same massive-beam manner, and hard by is a refurbished clapboard cafe  serving breakfast lunch and tea.

Two or three miles north through the Forest  - on a bizarrely hot winter day with dormant or dead leafless trees - is High Beech church, right in the middle of woods.  Built in 1873 to the design of Arthur Blomfield, it is neat pattern-book English Gothic with broach spire, looking almost as crisp as it did when consecrated. It was paid for by local resident Thomas Charles Baring, of the bank, on condition he chose architect and style. The dedication to Holy Innocents reflects the death of  two of the Barings' children.
Catching the end of the sermon (on the money-changers in the temple) we learnt that there is now a Canal Chaplain ministering to the Lea navigation - a sizeable waterways community
as we've seen from Ware to Hackney.

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