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(about 3 miles)

Epping has retained much of its market town character, having escaped the suburban sprawl that is the fate of so many places on a Tube line. The Monday market dates back to 1253, animals from the surrounding farms being sold there as late as 1961. It was an important staging post for coaches on their way to East Anglia, with 26 inns and public houses along the High Street. Although only a few of these remain it is a pleasant place to explore, with many unspoilt ancient buildings and original shop windows to be found.
From the Tube it takes about ten minutes to get to the centre. Turn left out of the station and then left into Station Road.* When you reach the High Street there is a small shop with projecting first storey and interesting windows. Turn right here, but before doing so look across the road to admire St. John’s church (late nineteenth-century). Many of the buildings in Epping are of eighteenth-century origin but have had a variety of alterations and extensions. The George and Dragon now operates as a restaurant, but you can see the archway through which coaches used to pass. Further along, the only sign that the Cock Hotel (Simon Campion Court) was once a hostelry is the bird which still sits on top of the porch. This building has a sixteenth-century timber frame behind its Georgian façade.

At the end of the High Street is a grassy area. Here turn right into Grove Lane. The Friends Meeting House (1850) with its elegant arched door/window is ahead of you in Hemnal Street. Go right here to find Kendall Lodge. This was originally a Tudor farmhouse, but in the 1760's it was rebuilt as a gentleman's residence. The big wall further along the road marked the boundary of the gardens also created at that time. Almost opposite is a Victorian cottage with pretty rustic porch. Return to the High Street and cross over to the distinctive red brick tower** of the Civic Offices (Richard Reid and Associates 1980’s). 
You are now in Church Hill. This is an attractive open area with two separate greens and many old cottages. No. 11 (eighteenth-century) is particularly appealing, with its plain facade and mellow clay tile roof. No. 29, nestling up to the side of No.31 is much older than it looks, being c 1550. Its timber framing is now hidden under a early nineteenth-century ‘modernisation’.  Nearby is a small barn conversion, while No. 37 has some splendid railings. At the end of the second green go left into Lindsey Road where there is a row of seventeenth-century cottages.

Return to the High Street and walk back on the north-western side. No. 313 is a fine Georgian house, now a shop. At No. 293 is the oldest pub in Epping, the seventeenth-century Black Lion, so small you might easily miss it. Soon you will come to an alleyway, Buttercross Lane. A butter cross stood here for about one hundred and fifty years from the mid seventeenth century - Epping used to be renowned for the excellent quality of its butter. 
On the right hand wall as you go down the alley is a plaque to Henry Doubleday (1808-1875), the author of the first catalogue of British butterflies and moths. Confusingly, The Henry Doubleday Research Association (Garden Organic) is not named after him, but after his horticulturist cousin. Go further down into the lane - it is a curious spot. On the left side is a strange building with sloping roof and blocked circular windows, thought to have been a coach house.The Doubleday garden lay behind the brick wall on the right. Some of it has been developed, but at the car park end the original summerhouse remains - it's built into the wall under a yew tree. Please respect the privacy of the owners.
Retrace your steps to the High Street - but before you get there have a look at the old weather-boarded building (once a saddlery) opposite the Doubleday plaque. The design on the plasterwork is a traditional decoration known as pargetting.

Once back in the High Street continue towards the church, looking out for old shop windows – Lloyds Pharmacy (No.283-4) and Holland and Barrett (No. 259) are good examples. At No. 221 you will discover more pargetting as well as some decorative windows. When you reach the church turn right into St. John’s Road to see a run of late eighteenth-century terraced weatherboarded cottages - don’t miss number eleven and a half! Return to the High Street and cross over. Turn right and cross Station Road. The character of the High Street soon changes, with trees and grass verges creating a rural atmosphere, though over the road the small modern shops are a bit of a let-down. However back on the south-eastern side there is an interesting collection including No. 106 and No. 98 (Ebury House). At Clark Lane, just after the Fire Station, turn left to see an old-fashioned funeral directors’ with appropriate yew tree growing close up to a tiny pantiled office.

Go back to the High Street for the last set of eighteenth-century buildings. Here you will find a tiny black weather-boarded cottage next to a café. Across the road a large Tesco’s looms and further on you can’t miss the Victorian gothic water tower. You will see from the map that there is a way into Epping Forest only a few minutes further on, but you do have to walk for a while to escape the noise from the motorway and the grass becomes waterlogged in wet weather. Return to the Tube via the High Street and Station Road. As you approach the railway you may notice some large red brick blocks of flats on the other side of the bridge. This is an up-market housing estate on the site of an old mansion, Theydon Bower.

Epping is a cheerful and busy town, and because its main street was widened to accommodate stage coaches in the eighteenth century, it does not suffer from the major traffic problems of some other market towns. It's a good place to go for an architectural treasure-hunt.

*There is an excellent country-style bus service that goes to the High Street from a stop directly outside the station.

**A neat reference to the water tower at the southern end of the town.

Photos: (Click on images to enlarge) 
St. John's Church 
Sign of old Cock Hotel
Civic Offices
Kendall Lodge
No. 11 Church Hill
No. 37 Church Hill/Lindsey St. cottages
Coach House, Buttercross Lane
St. John's Road cottages
Nos. 98-106 High St/Pargetting, No 221 High St.

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 toclick on the link above and see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!