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CHIGWELL Central Line (Hainault) 

In a letter to a friend Charles Dickens described Chigwell as 'The greatest place in the 
world . . . Such a delicious old inn facing the church . . .such an out-of-the-way rural place.'
My route is only about 1½ miles, but see below for the London Loop.  
To get to this idyll, turn right out of the Tube station and after about ten minutes’ walk up a busy but not unpleasant road you will see the sixteenth-century King's Head so beloved of Dickens. This 'delicious old inn' is what he had in mind when he wrote about the Maypole in Barnaby Rudge. It has changed a lot since his time, with extensive additions in 1901. The entrance is at the rear where you will see the resulting pastiche, which includes an folly-like glazed tower. This grand old coaching inn is definitely worth a visit - purely for historical reasons, of course! Opposite is the medieval St. Mary’s. It was much enlarged in Victorian times but still has the atmosphere of a rural church.

The village is a delightful jumble of stately Georgian houses and weather-boarded cottages. Amongst these is Chigwell School. Founded in 1629, its most famous pupil is William Penn, Quaker founder of Pennsylvania. The original building has undergone many alterations and several houses throughout the village are now part of the school, including the late eighteen-century Grange Court which you will have passed on your way up from the station. At the end of the village is Vicarage Lane. If you walk a short way down this you will see an old oak, known locally as Dickens Oak (for no other reason than he would almost certainly have known the tree).

When you return to Chigwell Tube station you may notice a footpath running alongside the high wall of the grounds of Grange Court. Although this looks as if it might lead to open countryside (and no doubt once did), it is now a short cut to a residential area. You can avoid some of the main road on your return to the Tube station by taking this footpath and turning right at Meadow Way. At the T junction, where there still is a large cultivated field, turn right into Courtland Drive then left into the High Road and after a few minutes you will be at the station again.
Section 20 of the London Loop runs from just opposite Chigwell School. I only did part of this walk before deciding not to recommend it, as it seems that for much of the year parts are either ploughed up, muddy, or brambly. For those more intrepid than I, the route is here

King's Head:cottages next to King's Head:
St. Mary's Church
:Grange Court:Weatherboarded cottages
Dickens Oak

This is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings to be found in the area covered by the outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to go to to see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!

© DR