Hainault Forest Website

Hainault Lodge Local Nature Reserve


Hainault Lodge Local Nature Reserve was the first local Nature Reserve in the London Borough of Redbridge to be designated, after consultations with English Nature.   It was officially opened by the Mayor, Councillor Ronnie Barden in 1995.

Hainault Lodge was built in 1851 at the time of the disafforestation of Hainault Forest. Its occupants were varied and included Frederick Green JP one time High Sheriff of Essex, who rebuilt the Lodge in the 1880's. During the Second World War it housed Officers from RAF Fairlop. After the war the house became an annex of Oldchurch Hospital, Romford. It  lay derelict for about 7 years when it was finally demolished in 1973, and the completely overgrown site was acquired by the Borough in 1986 and a small band of enthusiastic volunteers from Havering & Redbridge Wildlife and Countryside  Group began to manage the site in 1990 in partnership with the Borough's Nature Conservation Section. Originally a small relic of Hainault Forest, the site had good examples of old standard Oak trees and Hornbeam pollards but was completely impenetrable. Brambles, sycamore saplings, leaf litter and dumped rubbish littered the site. Paths needed to be cut for access, and areas cleared, and it was then that the extent of the house and gardens were revealed.

The main drive,  service road, croquet lawn and tennis court were uncovered . Rhododendrons still survived, and the site of an old orchard with apples, pears, quince, plums and damsons and a magnificent black Mulberry was discovered. Various naturalists were called in to make an inventory of the species of plants and animals present. Recently an expert on old varieties of fruit was called in to identify the varieties. A surprising discovery was that of a stable area and courtyard under a deep layer of soil and leaf mould. An intricate pattern of cobbles, tiles  and drains marked out the horse stalls. It now sites the Group's picnic and barbecue area.

The Reserve consists of 6.8 hectares. A Nature trail has been constructed which takes visitors and school parties through the Reserve and points out areas of interest. A magnificent view of the London skyline including the Dome, Millennium wheel, Canary Wharf and the QEII bridge, with Fairlop Waters, site of Fairlop Fair in the foreground can be seen on a clear day.

Female Purple Hairstreak

Species lists are kept, and butterflies such as Orange tip and Speckled wood are found. Purple hairstreaks fly around the Oak canopy. A survey of small mammals, carried out for The Mammal Society found Woodmice and Bank voles plentiful. There is also a very healthy population of Yellow-necked mice Apodemus flavicollis and the Reserve is an important site for this species. Butchers broom is just within its range here, and Hazel - rare in the Forest - is found, and there is a coppice programme for it. A mixed hedgerow containing Hazel was planted along one edge of the Reserve. New Members of all ages are welcome to join the Group and help the volunteers with the conservation work on most Sunday mornings during the year. One indoor meeting a month is held at  Romford and Quizzes, Barbecues and Walks take place.

For details of Membership contact Mrs. M. Carter, 12 St.Ivians Drive, Gidea Park, Romford, Essex. RM2 5LD.