The Highams Park

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The Highams Park
The Highams Park

The Highams Park is an area of 28 acres lying just east of Highams Park Lake with entrances from: Tamworth Avenue, IG8 9RF; Henry’s Avenue, IG8 9RB, and; Keynsham Avenue, IG8 9TA. There are also entrances through stiles from the adjoining Epping Forest.

You can view the beautiful park and lake by clicking on the link to a you tube video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Joy7T5UL9Zw

A popular playground for children aged under 7 lies on the western edge of the park and some equipment for older children, including a zip wire, lie just outside the playground’s boundary. Wooden sculptural carvings have been installed nearby.

Play Area in The Highams Park
Play Area in The Highams Park

Humphry’s Cafe at the Tamworth Avenue end of the park provides food and refreshments and the cafes’s toilets are available for all park users.

The park provides a flexible space for local cultural events and performance. An active Friends group arranges regular events through the year, such as the very popular Spring Festival and September Picnic in the Park, during which a variety of performances, food outlets and games are arranged for local residents. Visitors to these events are numbered in their thousands.

Despite the number of people using the park, the space is sufficiently large to allow wildlife to flourish largely undisturbed. Although contiguous to the section of Epping Forest around the lake, the open grassland of the park, dotted with small stands of mature trees, provides an alternative habitat to the denser woodland. Several of the trees have preservation orders on them. Many birds take advantage of the space, including crows, jackdaws and green woodpeckers as well as smaller song birds. Squirrels race between the forest and the parkland trees. The grass is regularly maintained by the Council but wild flower meadows have been planted near Humphry’s and will only be cut at appropriate times of the year. The meadows will attract butterflies, bees and other important pollinators.

History of The Highams Park
The Highams Park is regularly used by a large number of residents, whether living nearby or from further afield. People come in all seasons to take advantage of the tranquil open space to wander its paths, to walk dogs, to play with their children or simply to sit amongst the greenery and admire the views across the park to the forest and nearby lake. From the highest point of the park, the skyscrapers of the city can be seen on the horizon.

Both the park and the lake were originally part of the much larger grounds belonging to ‘Highams’, a mid eighteenth-century manor house, now forming the core of Woodford County High School for Girls. At the end of the 18th century the then owner of Highams commissioned Humphry Repton, a renowned landscaper, to improve the design of the grounds. The Highams Park and the lake to its west are a remnant of that plan and remain in much of their original layout.

During World War 2 a ‘hut’ was built in a south-eastern corner of the park as a gun emplacement then for use as a first aid post. The park was used for vegetable growing. Prefabs were placed on the park immediately following the war and the hut reverted to a community hall for the residents. The prefabs were demolished in the 1960s and the park returned to grass land but the hut remained, serving variously as a local police hub and as storage for Council equipment. In 2017 HPPG obtained a lease from Waltham Forest Council for the hut and permission to convert it to a community hub. Through the hard work of volunteers and the generosity of local advisors and suppliers, the hut is now magnificently refurbished as ‘Humphry’s’, a community hub and café, hosting much needed community toilets. Business and occupation are brisk throughout the year. Various local groups meet there and local school children use it as a base for activities such as pond dipping in the lake. HPPG have also worked with the Council to renew boards at the main park entrances explaining the history of the park.

You can find out more about the park and lake on the image below (you can also view this board at the entrances to The Highams Park):

Highams Park History Board
Highams Park History Board