Loughton is the place for cafe culture and designer shopping, made famous by a certain television lifestyle show! It has a range of bars and restaurants where you can blend day into evening and evening into night. Lying alongside the edge of Epping Forest and with its Central Line station, it makes the ideal start or finishing point for a trip into the forest. The town also hosts the National Jazz Archive in its library just behind the High Street, next to Loughton Leisure Centre. Across the road is Loughton Cricket Club, founded in 1879 and famous for its thatched pavilion, one of many historic buildings echoing a Victorian heyday when rail access to the forest gave Loughton the nickname the "East Enders Playground".
A suburb of Loughton, Debden also has a Central Line tube station plus Epping Forrest College, East 15 Acting School (part of Essex University), the Post Office Museum and the print works for the Bank of England. It is also home to the headquarters of Higgins the builders with an impressive building on the corner of a business park which will soon also be home to a new shopping centre. Nearby in Loughton is the headquarters of Sir Alan Sugar’s empire, recently relocated from Brentwood. Loughton Hall is the area’s most distinguished building and is now a care home. The current Grade II listed building was constructed in 1878 on the site of an earlier hall that was owned by Mary Tudor two months before she became Queen Mary of England in 1553.
The earliest structure in Loughton is Loughton Camp, an Iron Age earth fort in Epping Forest dating from around 500 BC. Hidden by dense undergrowth for centuries it was rediscovered in 1872. There are references to a settlement at Loughton from Anglo Saxon times and Edward the Confessor granted various estates in the area to Harold Godwinson (Later King Harold II) who was also connected with nearby Waltham Abbey. In the Norman Doomsday Book, it is named Lochintuna.
As with many settlements in the area, significant change came in the early 17th century with the coaching routes stopping at Loughton then again in 1856 when the railway arrived. Development of the area was achieved by enclosing and building on the forest. In the 19th century demand on forest land was at its height and many commoners were concerned at the loss of this resource and common land to private owners and developers. Some Loughton villagers defied landowners to practice their ancient right to lop wood and this led to a series of court cases which finally succeeded in achieving the protection afforded by the Epping Forest Act of 1878 which preserved the forest for use by the public. One of the cases was brought by brought by the Loughton labourer Thomas Willingale and there is a plaque to him on the wall outside John the Baptist Church in Church Lane. Lopping Hall, in the High Street, opened in 1884 and was paid for by the Corporation of London to compensate villagers for the loss of traditional rights to lop wood. It is now an arts centre.
Loughton established itself as a commuter belt for London attracting middle class workers during the Victorian and Edwardian period. Expansion continued and at the end of the Second World War families from the devastated areas of East London were moved to new estates built on the edge of Loughton at Debden.
Map & Directions
Loughton is just north of London. It can be found on junction 5 of the M11 but beware - you can only leave north-bound and join south-bound. (It is said this is because the Bank of England printing works are in Loughton and the thinking was that any robbers would have to flee south rather than a more problematic and speedy flight north).
Public Transport Directions
Loughton is on the Central Line and connected to London by TfL bus routes.