Hainault Forest Website

Hainault - how did the name originate


Following the Perambulation of the Forest of Essex in 1641 in the reign of Charles I the exact boundaries of the forest were established - the River Lee formed a natural boundary in the West, with the highway from Bow bridge to Ilford and the Whalebone Road the Southern boundary and a series of stones formed the Eastern boundary. The forest was bisected by the River Roding from Passingford Bridge north of the Richard Stone to Ilford. It was a natural division and each half became known as Waltham Forest and Hainault Forest (coloured green on the map).

To the south of Ilford lay a huge monastery known as Barking Abbey and they enjoyed rights to deer and wood for building and heating from a woodland of some 3,000 acres on the edge of the parish of Barking hence Barkingside.

Barking Abbey

At the Dissolution by Henry VIII the woodland became the King's own property within Hainault Forest which was still subject to Forest Laws. The  woodland became known as Kingswood and following disafforestation in 1851 the woodland was cut down  becoming Crown property and farms were set up.


P. H. Reaney (1935) in his book "The Place-names of Essex" and W. R. Fisher (1887) "The Forest of Essex"

list variant spellings as follows:

1221 Henehout

1239 Hyneholt

1251 Hyneheut

1251 Foresta de Hineheut

1323 Hineholt

1323 Hynehalte, Hyneholte

1348 Henholt

1475 Hennold, Chappell Hennold, Hennolde

Map of West and East Hennold Walke (sic) c1640

1513 Heynold, Inholt

1590 Chapple Heinault,

1654 West Hainault, Heyault, Heynault

1777 Henhault

In late Victorian times Hainhault appears on maps and texts.


Reaney concludes that all the above spellings come from the roots higna and holt.

Higna + holt

 A (monastic) community      woodland

"The modern spelling is due to a fictitious connection with Philippa of Hainault or Hainaut in Belgium, queen consort to Edward III"



Born 1314

Married 1328     

Died 1369

Map of Henhault Forest by Chapman and Andre of 1777

The map shows the extent of the Kings Wood from Barkingside, to Collier Row and Padnall Corner.


Note Mossfoot (Mossford) Green, Hog Hill Pond, Henhault Lodge and the location of the Fairlop Oak tree.

"The Hyneholt" in Manford Way, Hainault, formerly "The Alfred's Head".  The proprietors are to be congratulated on choosing a name change in keeping with the area, rather than something inappropriate as is usual. The spelling is that used in 1239 long before Queen Philippa came on the scene.