The Lost Pond – Autumn walk in Epping Forest

A few years ago I picked up a postcard in the Epping Forest Visitor Centre at Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge in Chingford. It was a painting by Jacob Epstein of a pond surrounded by trees. A lady working in the Visitor Centre told me it was ‘The Lost Pond’ and that it was near Baldwin’s Hill. But somehow I never quite managed to find the Lost Pond on the few occassions I tried to find it, until I headed out with that intent the other Sunday, armed with the Corporation of London’s map of Epping Forest as well as the Ordnance Survey map.

There is also a passage about the Lost Pond in J.A Brimble’s London’s Epping Forest (pub. 1950). In fact, it appears that it was Brimble who gave the pond its name.

“Just before the ground begins to drop steeply to the valley, there is a pond set deeply in a dense surrounding of trees. It is right on the hill-top and is actually overlooking Bellringers’s Hollow.
The pond is not a natural one. It was made many years ago in supplying Loughton with gravel. But Nature and the passing of the years have concealed the scars, and the pond has settled beautifully into the Forest scene.
I don’t know that it has an official name. I have heard it called ‘The Gravels’ and ‘The Top Pond’. To us, it is always known as ‘The Lost Pond’. For, like many others, when first exploring the Forest, I walked blindly and stumbled on the pond by accident, afterwards being unable to remember how I got there, and where to find it again. It became ‘The Lost Pond’.”

The Lost Pond Epping Forest

The Lost Pond

Brimble also notes that it was a favourite haunt of the sculptor Jacob Epstein and that one day he found Epstein with his easle set up by the pond and he told the artist the name of the lake which then Epstein helped popularise. I wonder if this was the day the painting on the postcard was produced.

‘The Lost Pond’ is only one of several such attractive spots to be found in the woods. For the Forest only yields the secret whereabouts of these places to those who know her intimately.
J.A Brimble – London’s Epping Forest 1950