Visiting historical North Chingford
PUBLISHED: 10:00 27 January 2016
On the edge of beautiful Epping Forest, North Chingford is the perfect blend of old and new
In close proximity to Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, North Chingford is steeped in history and yet its vibrant high street offers cutting-edge retailers and restaurants.
It’s a corner of Essex with a reputation for high glamour, yet North Chingford never fails to offer a warm welcome.
Yasmine Dhillon opened Electricglam Beauty Bar in November last year and has found the local business community incredibly supportive.
‘There’s no practical handbook for starting out and as a first time business owner it’s been invaluable to be able to ask questions and run ideas by my new neighbours,’ she says. ‘They’ve freely offered their local knowledge and experience and it’s been a huge source of help.’
Electricglam is a one-stop shop, offering a wide range of beauty treatments under one roof and Yasmine says the people of North Chingford couldn’t have made her feel more welcome.
‘There’s a real sense of positivity and community spirit that I’ve never really experienced in London before, everyone really looks out for each other,’ she says.
‘Although the area has a really glamorous feel to it, it manages to be upmarket without losing its sense of warmth. I’ve only been here for a few months, but I already feel very much at home.’
With its eclectic array of shops, restaurants and bars along the high street, the majority of which are independently owned, North Chingford offers a unique alternative to the usual suspects and a more personal feel. Audrey De Vere-Hunt, owner of ladies boutique Glam, says: ‘In the six years since we opened many of my customers have become friends, I’ve really got to know them.
‘What we really offer is a personal shopping service which you don’t get from a big shopping centre. When I’m buying I will always think about particular customers, what they like and any occasions they may have coming up. It’s a real pleasure to find someone the perfect dress.’
This personal touch has seen Audrey open later for customers desperately in need of a new outfit. Audrey says: ‘I want everyone to leave Glam feeling great, it makes me so happy to know I’ve helped someone. We’re not catering for the masses, we’re catering for the community.’
North Chingford isn’t short of cool bars and hip restaurants but they are all extremely child friendly. Audrey says: ‘This is a very family oriented area, everyone knows everyone and it’s a great place for children to grow up. It’s got great amenities, easy access to London and a beautiful forest on your doorstep. It has a wonderful village feel and the people are incredibly warm and welcoming, it’s just a lovely place to live and I’m proud to be a part of it.’
North Chingford market, which has been running for more than six months, has become a very popular addition to the high street. The friendly, bustling market will be open on February 20 and March 26, then on the first and third Saturday of every month from April to November.
Up to 30 stalls along the High Street, between Tesco and Needful Things, offer a wide range of goods from jewellery and baby clothes to homemade cakes and wine.
Roger Salmons, who co-runs the market, says: ‘It has a lovely atmosphere and is becoming more and more popular with the local community, a part of the local calendar.’
Roger has lived in the area for over 20 years, and runs a Facebook site (www.facebook.com/Love-North-Chingford). He says: ‘This is a wonderful place and we’re keen to share it and open people’s eyes to what’s available on their doorstep. “There are some fantastic retailers and great cafes, restaurants and wine bars. It’s a great place to live, and with great transport links, an easily accessible place to visit.’
Just 30 minutes from central London, North Chingford isn’t just for people looking to shop or dine out. On the edge of Epping Forest, there’s a wealth of nature walks and even something for history buffs.
Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, a timber framed hut nestled in the heart of the forest, is open from 10am to 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Three storeys high, each floor boasts a themed display which offers a glimpse into the past from the Tudor kitchen on the ground floor to a range of 16th century fashion on the first floor with visitors encouraged to try on a range of Tudor outfits. The top floor offers stunning views across the forest which hosted many medieval hunts.
If the royal seal of approval isn’t enough to draw you to North Chingford, perhaps an endorsement from the infamous Lawrence of Arabia will? Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence spent time in the forest in his student days and was so taken by his surroundings he bought several acres after leaving the army in 1919. Although the hut and swimming pool he built are long gone, an obelisk on Pole Hill bears a plaque commemorating Lawrence, and celebrating his affection for the wonderful corner of Essex he held so dear.
Get in touch
Electricglam Beauty Bar, www.electricglam.co.uk, 020 8529 3362, 130 Station Road, Chingford, E4 6AG
Glam, 020 8524 1499, 137 Station Road, E4 6AG