Loughton: Worthies and social life

Pages 117-118

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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Balthasar de Guercis, an Italian surgeon to Queen Katherine of Aragon, became a tenant of the manor in 1538. (fn. 1) Early in the 17th century, when Sir Robert Wroth and Mary his wife lived at Loughton Hall, they were visited by Ben Jonson and other poets. James I was entertained at the hall in 1605 and the Prince of Wales in 1606 (see below, Manor). Sarah Adams (1805-48) author of 'Nearer my God to Thee' lived at Woodbury Hill. (fn. 2) Walter Kerr Hamilton (1808-69), Bishop of Salisbury, was the son of a Rector of Loughton and spent his early childhood there. (fn. 3) Sarah Catherine Martin (1768-1826) reputed author of 'Old Mother Hubbard', in its metrical form, (fn. 4) is buried in the old parish churchyard. She was the sister of Admiral Sir Thomas B. Martin (1773-1854). When she was 17 Prince William (later King William IV) fell in love with her. She and her parents handled the affair very discreetly. (fn. 5) The Martins were connected with Loughton through relatives, the Powells, who lived there. (fn. 6) Sir George Carroll (d. 1860) Lord Mayor of London 1846-7 and Contractor for State Lotteries, was owner of Uplands, and lived there. (fn. 7) W. W. Jacobs (1863-1943), the author, lived for many years at the Outlook, Upper Park Road. Soon after 1910 he moved to Feltham House, Goldings Hill. (fn. 8) Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) stayed when a boy at Goldings Hill Farm, opposite Goldings Hill Pond. (fn. 9) Sir Jacob Epstein lived at Baldwin Hill for some years after 1920. While there he carved his 'Rima' and 'Visitation'. (fn. 10)

During the late 19th and early 20th century Loughton was strongly represented in the Essex Field Club and the Essex Archæological Society, and it produced three local antiquaries of ability: H. W. Lewer (1859-1949), 1. Chalkley Gould (1845-1908), and W. C. Waller, the historian of Loughton. (fn. 11) Millican Dalton (d. 1947), pioneer camper and mountaineer, lived for a time at Baldwins Hill. (fn. 12)

In the late 19th century there was a fairly sharp division in Loughton between Anglicans and the nonconformists, which coincided roughly with the political division between Conservatives and Liberals. It gave rise to controversy over the establishment of a school board (fn. 13) and was shown in the duplication of some local societies. In 1892 the president of the Loughton Liberal and Radical Association was Julius Rohrweger, owner of Uplands, and one of the vice-presidents was Edward Pope, a prominent local Methodist. (fn. 14) The rector, J. W. Maitland, was a councillor of the Primrose League. Edward Pope was secretary of the Temperance League; the rector was president of the Church of England Temperance League. Julius Rohrweger was president of the Loughton Cricket Club; the Loughton Park Cricket Club had as its president Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson, Bt., Conservative M.P. for West Essex. There were also the Epping Forest Military Band (president the rector) and the Excelsior Brass Band (president H. H. Francis). (fn. 15) There were other clubs, for football, lawn tennis, and a number of charitable or provident purposes.

By 1900 Loughton was quite well provided with facilities for social intercourse and recreation. There were two parish churches and three nonconformist churches. The local Volunteers had a drill hall, and the Lopping Hall provided a valuable centre for all kinds of social activities. As already described, (fn. 16) the Lopping Hall had been erected out of £7,000 paid by the City of London for the extinction of lopping rights in Epping Forest. Out of that sum £1,030 was set aside as compensation to householders. The remainder formed the capital of the Lopping Hall Endowment Trust. (fn. 17) Land was bought at the corner of High Road and Station Road and the hall was built and furnished at a cost of £3,236. The official opening took place in 1884. The hall contained reading and lecture rooms and accommodation for parish meetings. In 1902 it was enlarged at a cost of £1,330 by a new wing of which the upper floor was let to the newly formed urban district council for a council chamber and offices and the lower floor to the Midland Bank Ltd. In 1933 proposals to improve the hall and stage accommodation at the expense of the reading-room provoked a public inquiry. It was decided that although the provision of books and a reading-room was one of the original objects of the endowment more people made use of the lecture and concert halls. A readingroom was retained, but it was smaller and contained only newspapers. In 1936 the library was sold. In 1937 further alterations to the hall were made at the cost of the Midland Bank. In 1951 the endowment consisted of over £2,400 stock in addition to the premises. The income was mainly used on general maintenance and improvement, wages and newspapers. There are six trustees, elected by ratepayers.

Two bequests have supplemented the original endowment of the Lopping Hall. In 1905 William F. Turner left £100 to be invested for the purchase of books. (fn. 18) When the library was closed this was diverted to the purchase of newspapers. In 1912 Henry Lincoln left £200 to be spent for the general purposes of the hall. (fn. 19) The hall remains a valuable social centre. It is a red-brick building with a tower, designed by Edmund Egan.

Opposite the Lopping Hall in Station Road is the Men's Club, built in 1901 by the Revd. W. Dawson and conveyed by him in 1903 to trustees for use as a club. In 1920 two houses in Meadow Road were conveyed to the trustees. Their rents provide much of the club's income, which in 1941 was £194 and was used for current maintenance and expenses. (fn. 20)

Loughton now (1953) has many clubs and societies, including at least four for amateur dramatics. (fn. 21) The Loughton Community Association acts as a coordinating body. There are several private sports grounds, including that of the Loughton Cricket Club opposite the 'King's Head'. The local council has provided about 100 acres along the Roding for playing fields and recreation grounds. (fn. 22) A branch of the County Library was first opened in 1936. The present library, a full-time branch, was opened in 1948. (fn. 23)

During the First World War Loughton provided accommodation and financial support for Belgian refugees. The subscriptions totalled £420 in 1915 and £310 in 1916. (fn. 24)


  • 1. Inf. from Mr. Wm. Addison; West Essex Gaz. 18 Feb. 1955.
  • 2. Waller, Loughton, i, 39, 40.
  • 3. Ibid. i, 136.
  • 4. D.N.B.
  • 5. For her claims to the authorship see I. and P. Opie, Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, 320-1.
  • 6. Letters of Sir H. Byam Martin (Navy Rec. Soc.), i, 21.
  • 7. E.R. xxv, 117, 171.
  • 8. E.A.T. n.s. xiv, 285.
  • 9. E.R. lii, 205.
  • 10. Addison, Epping Forest, 226.
  • 11. Ibid. 227.
  • 12. For Lewer see E.R. lviii, 163; for Could see E.R. xvii, 31.
  • 13. E.R. lvii, 55-56.
  • 14. See Schools, below.
  • 15. Davis' Epping, Loughton and Ongar Almanack, 1892, 20-23; this almanack gives details of all local societies and clubs.
  • 16. Francis's religious and political affiliations have not been traced.
  • 17. See Preservation of Epping Forest, above.
  • 18. For the Lopping Hall Endowment see Char. Com. Files.
  • 19. Char. Com. Files.
  • 20. Ibid.
  • 21. Char. Com. Files; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1914).
  • 22. Chigwell U.D. Official Guide (2nd edn.), 41-47.
  • 23. Ibid. 28.
  • 24. Inf. from County Librarian.
  • 25. E.R.O., T/P 13 iv.