Chigwell is a small town of around 12,500 people in the suburbs of North East London approximately 11.5 miles from Charing Cross. Situated in the Epping Forest area of Essex it has two underground stations (Chigwell and Grange Hill) affording its residents ready access into the centre of London via the Central line.
Chigwell was mentioned as a standalone village in the Doomsday Book with a total of 3 inhabitants. By 1391 the village had grown to 72 houses with most centred on Chigwell Street and around the church. It remained largely anonymous until Charles Dickens became a frequent visitor and commented on the area in various letter in the late 19th Century.
Deforestation of the area began in earnest in the early 14th Century and, today, less than 140 acres in two plantings in the parish remain.
Roding Valley Meadows was an RAF base from 1933 until 1958 and it first provided barrage balloon coverage during the Second World War. The base was also a part of the Cold War coastal nuclear defence system before its closure. Some of the flight contingent that took part in Queen Elizabeth's coronation display were based there in 1953. Roding Valley Meadows is now the home to a David Lloyd Sports Centre with the rest of the former air station being turned into a local nature reserve.
Chigwell is part of the so called Essex Triangle. Along with neighbouring towns Loughton and Buckhurst Hill, the area is favoured by many wealthy residents due to its large housing stock.
Amongst the many schools in the area Chigwell School is a public school founded in 1629 by Samuel Harsnett, the then Archbishop of York and Vice Chancellor at Cambridge University. Although primarily a boy's school, bursaries were provided for girls in 1873 - but to attend other schools in the area! It was not until 1975 that the first three girls were to be admitted to the sixth form. In 1997 it became fully co-educational and currently has 730 pupils from age 7 until A level. Around 10% of all pupils board in small houses in the grounds of the school.
Amongst is more famous former pupils are William Penn (who founded Pennsylvania) and the actor Sir Ian Holm. Remnants of the old schoolroom where Penn was educated still survive and form the current library.
Premier league football team Tottenham Hotspur have their training facilities in Chigwell. Many of the staff and players, such as Ashley Cole and Jermaine Defoe, also live in the area but other famous residents have included the Olympic gold medal winner Sally Gunnell, snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan, formula 1 racing driver Kimi Raikkonen and business tycoon Sir Alan Sugar.
In the recently released crime statistics Chigwell does not feature as a separate entity. Instead it is subsumed into the Metropolitan Police region of Redbridge where the incidence of robbery, burglary and theft are higher than national averages and sexual offences and violence against the person are below average.