High Beach or High Beech is a village inside Epping Forest and is located approximately eleven miles north east of central London. It is the only settlement inside Epping Forest. and falls within the civil parish of Waltham Abbey, London Metropolitan Area, Greater London Urban Area and Epping Forest District of Essex.
High Beach is in the uplands of Essex, which reach heights of 110 metres (360 ft) above sea level on the western fringes of Epping Forest. Areas of the surrounding forest are also named High Beach or High Beech. However, individual smallholdings of land are given over to residential, agriculture and mixed uses, particularly beside the straight A-road which bisects it. Many of the forest paths are naturally gravel-lined with underlying deposits of Bagshot Sands. It is believed that the name High Beach came from an early description of the localised sand and gravel exposure in this part of the forest.
Holy Innocents church is surrounded by forest. It was built in 1873 by Thomas Baring, replacing an earlier church which was located in Church Road around 1 mile away from the present church's location, and was designed by the architect Arthur Blomfield in the Early English style at the cost of £5,500. The 125 feet (38 m) tower and spire contains 13 hemispherical bells cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
In July 1837, poet John Clare's deteriorating mental disorder caused him to be admitted to the High Beach private asylum under the guidance of the enlightened Dr Matthew Allen. The poet, after suffering from depression, was invited as a guest to Allen's asylum. Clare spent four years at the asylum before escaping in July 1841. Alfred, Lord Tennyson lived at Beech Hill House from 1837 to 1840. During his short stay he may well have encountered Clare and other inmates. Tennyson was reported by a journalist as being "...delighted with the mad people...the most agreeable and the most reasonable persons he has met with."
Amenities include the church, primary school, horse riding school and three pubs: the Duke of Wellington, The Kings Oak and The Owl. Owned and managed by the London Borough of Waltham Forest, the Suntrap Forest Education Centre offers field studies and other activities to schools and other groups.
Epping Forest Visitors Centre in Nursery Road is one of three visitor centres in the forest that provide learning, tours, exhibits and recreational facilities.
In February 1928, an oval cinder circuit to the rear of the Kings Oak public house was the venue for Britain's first motorcycle speedway meeting.
Courses and appropriate tracks for outdoor pursuits include horse riding, mountain biking, orienteering and seasonally there are running events. The 15 miles (24 km) Epping Forest Centenary walking route passes through the locality. The route was established in 1978 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Epping Forest Act 1878. Section 18 of the London Loop, a long distance footpath, can be joined at nearby Sewardstone.
In Mott Street the High Beach Cricket Club play in Division 4 of the Herts & Essex League.
At the highest level of local government, responsible for a considerable amount of infrastructure and education is Essex County Council with single-member wards. The relevant ward is Waltham Abbey.
At the next level, responsible for parks, litter, recycling, final planning decisions, leisure, elderly and children's services, High Beach together with the neighbouring settlements or Waltham Abbey neighbourhoods of Copthall Green, Sewardstone, Sewardstonebury and Upshire form the ward of "Waltham Abbey High Beach" electing one member to Epping Forest District. On a third tier of local government, Waltham Abbey town council has powers, and the whole of High Beach is part of its civil parish.
The district-level ward forms part of the Epping Forest (UK Parliament constituency) and covers 2,235 ha (5,520 acres) with a population of 2143. Postally High Beach centred on a tripoint such that it is divided between Chingford London E4, Loughton IG10 postal district and Waltham Abbey.
RoadMajor roads A104, M25, A121 and the A112 pass through or close by to the locality.
RailChingford railway station is approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) away.
London TransportLoughton tube station is approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) away.
BusEssex bus route 505 serves the A112 Sewardstone Road, approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) away, as does London bus route 215, but only as a summer extension.