The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:

Open location in Google Maps: 51.617164, 0.050812


The map location is rough, as the forest stretched for many miles.

7 Annotations

First Reading

Paul Timbrell  •  Link

Norman Gunby in his book 'A Potted History of Ilford' writes 'At the time of Pepys' visit the forest (Waltham) extended from the River Lea at Bow and along the main road past Forest Gate and through Ilford to Whalebone Lane, Chadwell Heath - a distance of just over 7 miles. It then went northwards as far as Harlow and Roydon - a distance of just over 13 miles - covering an area of 60 000 acres (nearly 94 square miles), ten times the size of Epping Forest today.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The name "Epping Forest" was first recorded in the 17th century; prior to this it was part of the larger Waltham Forest (which gives its name to the present-day London Borough of Waltham Forest, which covers part of the modern forest).

The area that became known as Waltham and then as Epping Forest has been continuously forested since Neolithic times. ... Today's beech-birch and oak-hornbeam-dominated forest was the result of partial forest clearance in Saxon times.

The forest is thought to have been given legal status as a royal forest by Henry II in the 12th century. This status allowed commoners to use the forest to gather firewood and foodstuffs, to graze livestock and turn out pigs for mast, but only the king was allowed to hunt there. "Forest" in the historical sense of royal forest meant an area of land reserved for royal hunting, where the forest laws applied, and did not imply that it was necessarily wooded.

In Tudor times, Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth may have hunted in the forest, although no documentary evidence survives to prove it. In 1543, Henry commissioned a building, known as Great Standing, from which to view the chase at Chingford. The building was renovated in 1589 for Queen Elizabeth and is now known as Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge, and is open to the public.

There is another hunt standing, which now forms the core of the Forest HQ at the Warren, Loughton.

Following the Restoration in 1660, although the deer herd was restocked, royal hunting in the forest never recommenced. The forest was principally used as a source of shipbuilding timber for the Royal Navy, which was taken overland to Barking Creek and then floated in rafts to the Royal Dockyards at Woolwich and Deptford. This exploitation continued until about 1725, when all the suitable oak trees had been felled.

The City of London maintained the ancient tradition of an Easter Monday stag hunt in the forest, but official participation ended in 1807 when the office of Master of the City Hounds was abolished.

Further on in the article they talk about Dick Turpin, the highwayman, having a hiding place in Epping Forest, but that's 50 years after the Diary.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The city's correct name is Waltham Abbey. By the 17th century there was, of course, no longer an Abbey, although the Abbey church remains as the parish church for the city.

In the 17th century there were four churchwardens (who fulfilled some roles of local government, collected and distributing poor relief): one each for the town, Holyfield, Upshire, and Sewardstone.
Joseph Hall, curate from 1608, was later Bishop successively of Exeter and Norwich. Thomas Fuller, author of "The Worthies of England" and of the first "History of Waltham Abbey", was curate 1649–58.

In the 17th century, a gunpowder factory was opened in the town, probably because of the good river communications (which drained the former empty marshland) by the River Lea. The building is now the local museum.

For lots more local color, see…

The River Lea, rising north of Luton, Bedfordshire, flows for 46 miles (74 km) east and then south to enter the River Thames near Bromley-by-Bow, in the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

In the 17th century an important aqueduct known as the New River was constructed in the valley of the Lea. Much of the valley has seen considerable industrial development, and many large reservoirs supplying water for London are located in the area.

In 1967 a regional park authority was set up to provide recreational opportunities and public access along the natural corridor of the river.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

A general lesson in forestry which I didn't know beyond, as a child, noticing that some years there were more horse chestnuts than others:

The term for the nuts and fruits that our woodland trees produce is "mast", derived from the Old English word ‘mæst’, used to describe the nuts accumulated on the ground to be foraged by domestic pigs. There are two forms of mast; hard (acorns and beech nuts), and soft (catkins and rose hips).

By extension, the term "mast year" is used when woodland trees produce bumper crops of fruit. 2020 was a mast year, oak trees going into overdrive producing acorns, just as they did in 2013.

ur forefathers were acutely attuned to the peaks and troughs of mast production, but to this day its mysteries are not fully understood.

An oak propagates itself with acorns, each containing usually one seed, enclosed in a tough leathery shell, sitting inside a cup-shaped cupule. If the seed germinates, it pushes out a taproot that will anchor the tree for its existence. Each seed is full of energy-rich starch, which presents an irresistible snack for the squirrels, beetles, jays, and the deer that make the wood their home.

To improve its seeds’ chances of survival, the oak overproduces acorns so there are more nuts than the hungry foragers can possibly devour.

Some scientists think the oaks synchronise the mass production of fruits by releasing a chemical signal, which they do to trigger defensive mechanisms when neighbouring species are damaged.

Adult oaks can grow up to 45 metres tall and spread almost as wide and can take 700 years to reach old age. This means it needs its seeds to germinate away from the parent tree. When there is an abundance of acorns, squirrels obligingly carry them away and bury them, thereby dispersed the nuts. The seed needs to fall into the hands of an amnesiac squirrel or one that falls into the clutches of a predator to increase its chance of survival.

Depending upon the species, oaks start producing acorns when they are between 20 to 30 years old, reaching peak acorn production when they are between 50 and 80 years old. Over its lifetime, an oak will produce around 10,000,000 acorns, but few make it even to the sapling stage.

Producing a bumper crop of acorns makes significant inroads into the tree's store of sugars and starch. To replenish, the oak recuperates by concentrating on less demanding activities, like making more leaves and wood, which explains why there is a noticeable absence of acorns this year.

More plus lovely photos at…

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

By 1669, George Fox had established a Quaker boarding school at Waltham Abbey. Isaac and Mary Penington sent their children (4 boys, 1 girl) there for education at this time -- possibly because Isaac's Quaker writings were getting him sent to prison quite frequently.…

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.