For Londoners seeking the quiet life, the picturesque Essex village of Abridge is less than 18 miles from the capital and ticks all the boxes.
Abridge can be found a few miles north of Hainault and to the east of Loughton in the historic district of Epping Forest. It’s an attractive semi-rural riverside location next to a bridge over the River Roding, from where it gets its name.
The village will hit the spot for any Londoners looking for a slice of country living. It’s enveloped by countryside and both Epping Forest and Hainault Country Park are within easy reach.
Surprisingly, this rural idyll is actually one of the closest villages to London and has eye-catching commuter connections. In about half an hour residents can be right in the centre of the capital.
But the price of having the perfect mix of rural and urban benefits can be high. The current average house price is nudging £585,000 – although this is a sizeable drop from the prices paid in nearby Chigwell. You can check out the most up-to-date prices here.
Check out what Chigwell, also in the Epping Forest, has to offer by reading our guide.
Living in Abridge: what to expect
Crossing the bridge into the village you’ll be greeted by a collection of picture-perfect period buildings. A handful of medieval buildings remain alongside a couple of traditional pubs, which are still serving residents today.
Ongar Road has most of the village’s shops and amenities, which include corner shops, restaurants and small independent businesses. A Post Office is also available, along with a village hall and church.
In the heart of the village is the local club’s cricket green. You can also take advantage of a selection of nearby golf courses, which can be found to the north of the village. Running and cycling are popular pastimes in Epping Forest, which has a wealth of footpaths and bridleways to explore.
Families with young children have the benefit of a local primary school. Lambourne Primary School sits to the south of the village and received a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted at its last inspection. A wider selection of schools can be found in Chigwell and Loughton.
Where to start your property search
If you want a home with history, period properties can be found in and around the village. On the very outskirts look out for old farmhouses with sash windows set in large grounds. Look along Ongar Road for houses with panoramic views, exposed beams, open fires and spacious kitchens.
Most housing dates from the 20th century, which will suit those looking for a cosy family home. On Alderwood Drive you can find plenty of bungalows, some of which are in a chalet style with converted lofts. Neat terraces with paved driveways can also be found along this road, together with some 1950s semis.
Larger semis with three to four bedrooms line Knights Walk. These comfortable properties have large driveways and front porches as well as sizeable gardens.
If your budget is more flexible, take a look at the grander detached homes on Hoe Lane. This leafy road has generous houses that are set back from the traffic, some of which have gated entrances. Homes here also benefit from being close to the primary school.
Further down the road are some semi-detached cottages with white render and some slightly bigger 1920s semis. Head eastwards down Ongar Road for yet more detached homes, some of which date from the Georgian period. Many are double-fronted and have some mock Tudor detailing.
If you want to live in an iconic part of the village, take a look at the apartments in the historic Roding Hall. The building sits next to the bridge across the River Roding and has been converted into two-bedroom flats. Some apartments have balconies that overlook the river.
Modern homes are also scattered throughout the village. Search along roads such as Orchid Close for a contemporary terrace with two bedrooms and a modest garden.
Getting around Abridge
By rail: The nearest Tube station is Theydon Bois, which is only two miles from the village. The station sits on the Central Line and can take commuters into London Liverpool Street in just 34 minutes.
By car: The closest major road is the M11, which can be reached via the A113. From the M11 you can head north to Cambridge or south west past Woodford. Abridge also sits within the M25, which surrounds greater London and provides links to several major motorways.
By air: London City, a leading business airport, is just 15 miles away and offers flights to Europe and New York. Stansted Airport is around a 30 minute drive away and has flights to destinations including Amsterdam, Menorca and Vienna. Flight operators include budget airline Ryanair.
Things to do in Abridge
History: The Epping Forest district has plenty of heritage to uncover. Within the forest itself is Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, which was built on the orders of Henry VIII and is free to visit. Inside the Tudor-framed building you can find displays on Tudor life and fashion.
Cultural: The village hall still acts as the centre of community life. It includes playing fields and a playground and hosts a large number of clubs and social groups. Take a look at its timetable to take part in an art club, martial arts or dancing.
The Abridge Village Weekend is one of the highlights of the local calendar. This event includes a music festival as well as a craft and car fair, and all money raised is pumped back into the village. You can admire the wares of various stalls as well as stands selling refreshments, and cheer on the floats in the festival parade.
The weekend also includes an annual Summer Ball. This black tie event is a popular night out for residents, who get to enjoy music and dancing as well as an extravagant meal.
Outdoors: Epping Forest is London’s largest open space and is just a few miles drive from Abridge. Its 2,400 hectares include three Special Areas for Conservation and are a haven for walkers, cyclists, runners, horse-riders and anglers. Look out for its large population of fallow deer and activities such as craft days, guided walks and art exhibitions.
To the south of the village is Hainault Forest Country Park. Families and active residents can spend the day exploring its 300 acres, which include a fishing lake and a small animal farm. The park holds a Green Flag and has dozens of guided walks and bridleways that lead you through its most attractive areas.
To explore countryside right on your doorstep, follow one of the walks that start in the village. One trail leads across the river and into farmland before following a scenic route back into the river valley.
Sports: A short journey from Abridge brings you to the war-torn grounds of Mayhem, a paintballing arena. Brave participants can choose from 16 different playing areas, which include one based on a Call of Duty game. The areas were designed by a professional paintballer and props include tanks, helicopters and planes. Prices for adults start from £12.50, while children and students prices start at £9.99.
Abridge Golf and Country Club spans 240 acres and has eye-catching countryside views. Players can test themselves on its 18-hole championship course, or practise on the putting green or driving range. Hobbs Cross Golf Centre and Epping Golf Course are also only a short drive away.
Shopping: If you need a greater choice of shops beyond what is offered in the village, nearby Romford is a good option. The town has two shopping centres that boast high-street favourites such as M&S, Debenhams and Next.
Loughton is another popular shopping destination that has a number of independent shops. A new £14m shopping centre has also been given the go ahead and is expected to open in summer 2017.
Food and drink: The Blue Boar inn is something of an institution in the village. The listed building was built in the early 19th century and is a popular haunt of locals. Friends can compete at its quiz night or enjoy some live music while enjoying dishes such as slow braised lamb.
Residents can also enjoy delicious Mediterranean food. The New Roding is now helmed by a Sardinian chef who serves classic pasta dishes and grilled meat and fish. Guests can listen to live music every Thursday to Saturday and enjoy the roof terrace on warm evenings.
For a filling breakfast, hunt down the Blue Rooms Café, which sits within the Abridge Garden Centre site on the Ongar Road. It’s the perfect place for a full English breakfast, washed down with plenty of strong tea.
The centre of the village used to be home to a Riggs Retreat, which served non-alcoholic drinks. These retreats used to be popular among churchgoers and Temperance Societies in the late Victorian period and well into the 20th century.
5 reasons to live in Abridge
- Semi-rural way of life
- Convenient commute to central London
- Close to the open space of Epping Forest
- Plenty of roomy family homes
- Lively village community events
Are you craving life away from the city? Share your views on Abridge in the comments below.