A town guide to Theydon Bois
PUBLISHED: 10:06 24 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:06 24 June 2016
Allison Martin explores the beautiful Theydon Bois and the successful independent businesses the village has to offer
Sitting on the green in Theydon Bois, it’s hard to remember that you’re just 20 minutes outside of London. Despite its close proximity to the bustling city suburbs, Theydon remains the quintessential English village from that stunning green to the local, independent shops and cafes that dominate the high street.
Residents revel in that village atmosphere and the sense of community that is embedded in the neighbourhood.
Donna Coward has called Theydon ‘home’ for over 30 years and opened her florists, Venus in Flowers, on Coppice Row 16 years ago. She says: ‘It’s been a wonderful place to raise children with its strong community spirit and the beautiful forest right on your doorstep. Everyone knows their neighbours and people really look out for each other.’
As florist manager, Donna loves that role of local shopkeeper and says that many of her customers have become good friends over the years. ‘Our customers are very loyal and, I think, appreciate the value of local businesses.
‘There’s always plenty going on, great places to eat and shop, but Theydon really has held on to that old world charm.’
Mark Scroce, owner of award-winning butchers and pie makers, Quality and Excellence Ltd, agrees that the local residents really value independent shops and restaurants.
He says: ‘We get people travelling in from London or Hertfordshire to buy our award-winning produce, but many of our regular customers have been with us for years. Some actually shopped here in the 1950s, long before I took over, they know we provide quality goods and service and they appreciate that.’
Theydon can trace its origins back to 1066 when it had a population of just 10, by 1428 it was named Theydon Bois and then, in 1865 the first railway reached the village bringing with it new neighbours, delighted by this rural idyll.
In fact it feels miles away from the hustle and bustle despite being in close proximity to both the M11 and M25, making for an easy commute to work.
As Michael Mehmet, owner of Tikadi, states: ‘What is not to love about Theydon Bois, it’s absolutely perfect.’
He points, in particular, to the wealth of independent businesses in the village and, above all, the people who make up this close-knit community.
‘Most of the retailers here have been around for a long time and we all pride ourselves on excellence in every way. We care about the community and they care about us.
‘The fact that so many of us are independents and really passionate about that, and about providing something really special for our customers, makes for a unique high street experience, something different and, I think, a more personal level of care.
‘You can have your hair done then buy a packed lunch and relax in the sunshine on the Green or enjoy a meal at one of our excellent pubs and cafes. Theydon really is a rarity, somewhere very special.’
One of the few chains in Theydon is Belgique which opened one of its café/patisseries in the village six years ago which has become a firm favourite with both residents and the weekend walkers who enjoy Epping Forest.
Manager, Ben Jamieson, says: ‘Although we have more than one café, we still feel like an independent and Theydon has been a really good fit for us.
‘It’s a beautiful place with a lot of character, very family and community focused which suits us well.’
Ben says the relationships between local retailers, residents and community organisation is something very special. “We’re all very supportive of each other,’ he says, ‘there’s a strong bond and it feels very much like home.’
A village it may be, but Theydon isn’t sleepy with its shops, pubs and restaurants and over 30 active clubs and societies operating in the area, adding to that sense of community.
Sunday, July 10 will see Theydon’s 29th annual Donkey Derby to raise money for the local scouts, guides and other youth groups. A highlight in the village’s social calendar, the community gathers and people travel for miles to enjoy watching some of the local children take part in donkey races. If you’re not playing jockey, there’s the opportunity to place a small bet along with enjoying the rides, games, stalls and food and drink tents available on the village green.
There’s also a popular annual Christmas market supported by local businesses.
Jim Watts, secretary of the Theydon Bois Rural Preservation Society and editor of the village website, describes living in the area as a ‘real privilege’.
He says: ‘Despite our close proximity to the attractions of London and the pressure from its suburbs we still remain a true separate village with a proper village atmosphere.’
He cites the surrounding green belt countryside and Epping Forest as protecting Theydon and the well-used village shops and businesses as contributing to the community because they know, and value, their customers.
Jim, perhaps, speaks for the whole community’s passion for and commitment to their home when he says, ‘Villagers here are proud to be part of a beautiful village that can trace its history back to the Doomsday Book and this pride is reflected in a friendliness and sense of community that supports our many clubs and societies.
‘Many of these work hard and contribute to preserving and improving Theydon Bois for future generations.’
Venus in Flowers
1 Coppice Row, Theydon Bois, CM16 7EU. 01992 813106. www.venusinflowers.com
Quality and Excellence Ltd
12 Forest Drive, Theydon Bois, CM16 7EY. 01992 813283. www.qualityandexcellence.co.uk. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sadler’s House, Coppice Row, Theydon Bois, CM16 7ES. 01992 815700. www.tikadi.co.uk
14 Forest Drive, Theydon Bois, CM16 7EY. 01992 814 430. www.belgique.co.uk