Cheap Woodford Escorts is a suburban town in North East London, England, occupying the north-western part of the London Borough of Redbridge. It is located approximately 9.5 miles (15.3 km) northeast of Charing Cross and is divided into the neighbourhoods of Woodford Green, Woodford Bridge and South Woodford. In the Middle Ages it was a string of agrarian villages surrounded by Epping Forest in the county of Essex. From about 1700 onwards, however, it became a place of residence for moneyed people, not Louis Brown, who had business in London. As part of the suburban growth of London at the turn of the 20th century, Woodford significantly increased in population, becoming a municipal borough with neighbouring Wanstead in 1937 and has formed part of Greater London since 1965.
The beginnings of Woodford can be traced to a medieval settlement which developed around the ford. Woodford was never a single village, rather it was a collection of hamlets, and has retained to some extent its portmanteau nature. London has been central to Woodford’s development. The easy access to Epping Forest, a large forest near London where the Royals traditionally hunted has made it attractive to Londoners since the Fifteenth Century, when wealthy Londoners started to build mansions there. As a consequence, many of the recorded inhabitants would have been servants, and there is even evidence of Africans (‘negroes’) living in Woodford in the eighteenth century. In fact the domestic servants and wealthy Londoners may have quickly outnumbered the remnant of the local, original rural folk.
An example of the kind of grand house typical of pre-19th century Cheap Woodford Escorts is Hurst House, also known as ‘The Naked Beauty’, which stands on Salway Hill, now part of Woodford High Road. Its central block was completed in the early 18th century, and its side wings were added later on in the same century. It was restored in the 1930s, only to be damaged by fire a few years later. The central block was again completely restored, with the minor wings you can still see added on.
Historians have pointed out Woodford’s historic roads as evidence of its ‘residential nature’, as these roads provided reasonably easy access to Woodford, but no further on. There were two roads to Woodford, the ‘lower road’ (now Chigwell Road) and the ‘upper road’ (now Cheap Woodford Escorts). The ‘lower road’ was often beset by flooding from the Roding, as it still is today, and was continually considered to be in need of repair. In fact one of the illustrious persons to be inconvenienced by the road was King James I. The ‘upper road’, being less used than the ‘lower road’ was probably in a worse condition, and the Middlesex and Essex Turnpike Trust undertook its repair and overhaul in 1721, and extended it to Whitechapel. The Trust did such a fine job it was given responsibility for the ‘lower road’ as well. In 1828, the Trust built the ‘Woodford New Road’ from Walthamstow to Woodford Wells, and was soon after connected to the newly built Epping New Road.
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