‘A PEOPLE’S FOREST AND ITS COURSE’
In 1882 Queen Victoria gave one of the very ancient royal forests, Epping Forest, to be ‘for the use and enjoyment of my people for all time’. It became known as the ‘People’s Forest’, managed by the Corporation of London.
Fifteen years later, a few of these people applied to develop an area of the forest known as Nightingale Valley into a 9-hole golf course, and hired the renowned James Braid to design it. He was paid £4.13.6d for doing this, and in March 1898 the first playing members – twelve men and six ladies – teed off for the first time. This was, incidentally, the year that the RandA first introduced the Rules of Golf.
In those days, several holes were played over the little road that ran through the course, but shortly after the First World War, as traffic increased, the Club decided that wasn’t the wisest of layouts, and holes were altered to avoid this.
The next major change to the course came about courtesy of the Luftwaffe unloading a rather large bomb between the current 13th and 14th fairways. The Committee at that time coolly deemed the area ‘ground under repair’, and simply fenced the damaged part off!
Finally, in 1966, the Club heard of more land that might be for sale between to course and the village of Theydon Bois. Far beyond the Club’s means to purchase, they persuaded the Corporation of London to purchase it as ‘buffer land’, to stop any further housing development encroaching on the forest, and then to lease it to the Club to develop a further nine holes.
So, in 1971, Theydon Bois became the dreamed-of 18-hole course it is today, opened with great fanfare by the Lord Mayor of London. Since then the Club has developed both its course and clubhouse into the modern, relaxed and friendly club it is today. 120 years of history sit well on Theydon Bois Golf Club, and make it a very special place.
**If you would like to read a much fuller account of the Club’s history and development, please contact the Club Manager for a copy of ‘The First Hundred Years’ booklet, produced to mark the Club’s centenary in 1997.