On 6 November, Epping Forest and the City of London Corporation, which manages the ancient woodland, will be celebrating the 800th anniversary of the UK’s 1217 Forest Charter – the sister statute to the Magna Carta – which re-established and protected the rights of ordinary people to make a living from common land.
Philip Woodhouse, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest Committee, said: “The Charter continues to have far reaching consequences nationally, even to this day. By restoring the legitimacy of the forests, the Forest Charter, which was a part of UK legislation until 1971, has left us with an extraordinary legacy of ancient trees and landscapes, including Epping Forest.”
The Charter laid the foundation for the 1878 Epping Forest Act, one of the first pieces of UK conservation legislation which saved the Forest from development and paved the way for the establishment of the National Trust. At the passing of the Act in 1878, Epping Forest ceased to be a Royal Forest and was placed in the care of the City of London Corporation which acts as its Conservators.
The City of London Corporation now manages over 11,000 acres of green space across London and south east England, including Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath and Burnham Beeches, with many of its sites designated National nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest for their unique ecology and rare plant species.
The Forest is London and Essex’s largest open space, attracting nearly five million visits a year.
Photo credit: Marion Sidebottom