Charles Dickens was a frequent visitor to Chigwell which he described as "the greatest place in the world...Such a delicious old inn opposite the church...such beautiful forest scenery...such an out of the way rural place!" Today its high street is still dominated by the former Kings Head, a 17th century building which was the model for The Maypole in Charles Dickens novel Barnaby Rudge.
A village on the coaching route out of London, it is now a conservation area of elegant Georgian houses, pretty weather-boarded cottages, 12th-century St Mary Church, complete with an intact Norman doorway, and Chigwell School, founded in 1629 from a bequest by Samuel Harsnett, Archbishop of York. Among many famous past pupils are William Penn, who later went on to found Pennsylvania, and actor Sir Ian Holm. The original 17th-century schoolroom where Penn was taught still stands, and is now the school library.
Those looking for fine food or sports venues will not be disappointed and for lovers of the English countryside, Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve is nearby. The town is included in a number of London loop walks, which start in the city and passes through the outskirts of the capital – see the plaque on the wall of Chigwell Station on the Central Line. The stylish station building was built in 1903 by the Great Eastern Railway.
Sir Alan Sugar is a famous resident and, as until very recently Tottenham Hotspur Football Club had its training facilities nearby, it's not surprising that many of the other famous residents connected with Chigwell are football players.
Why not combine a visit to Chigwell with nearby Buckhurst Hill, looking over Epping Forest and home to designer shopping and cafe culture made famous by a certain Essex lifestyle television programme.
Map & Directions
Public Transport Directions
Chigwell Station is on the Central Line.