The Epping Forest Ponds

Words and images by Nick Fallowfield-Cooper

There are over one hundred ponds scattered throughout  Epping Forest, situated on the border to north-east  London. Most  are man made, created through gravel extraction, a few were designed specifically for leisure and some were the result of World War II bombs,  exposed gravel beaches are still clearly visible on many of these waters. Evidence of human settlements in the forest go back to pre-history, the Romans used the forest for producing ceramic tiles in kilns. In the  Medieval period the forest was protected for the commoners to use for hunting and the grazing of cattle. In 1543 a hunting lodge was built for Henry VIII which still stands today high above Connaught Water, one of the largest ponds in the forest. Many of the bigger ponds became a focus for recreation to the Victorians and Edwardians. 

Of the one hundred and nine ponds you can fish twenty four of them, on the 14th August, 1926, Mr A.E. Wyatt landed a 21lbs 10oz mirror carp from Warren pond (pictured above) it became the British record that  stood until 1930.

The ancient woodland of Epping forest has attracted many artists over the years, one of its more famous residents was Sir Joseph Epstein (1880-1959) a bohemian artist and sculpture who became a great influence on the works of Henry Moore and Barbera Hepworth, he spent his later years living on the edge of the  forest and painted the  ponds and woodland in a series of over one hundred watercolour and gouache works, many of which are kept in the Tate collection.

Epping Forest and the ponds have been held close to the heart of  the people of Essex and especially Londoners' seeking escapism and solitude, often there have been threats to develop and encroach into the forest, but for now the forest remains protected by a charitable trust supported by the City of  London Corporation.

Warren Pond

Blackweir or The Lost Pond

Baldwins Pond

Baldwins Pond - The path to Lost Pond