Local Legends: Dick Turpin

We’ve come across some fascinating stories while researching our new school workshop, Local Legends, telling the stories of some important local people…


Turpin’s Cave

Did you know that the notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin, was said to have lived in a “cave” at Loughton Camp, Epping Forest at the height of his criminal activities? In 1735, with his accomplices in the Gregory Gang, Turpin is believed to have broken into Traps Hill Farm in Loughton, the home of an elderly widow named Shelley.


When Shelley refused to reveal where her money was hidden, the gang apparently threatened to roast her over a fire. The threat prompted her terrified son to say where their valuables were hidden. The gang found £100, which was a fortune at the time, a silver tankard and some other household items. Rather than making a quick getaway though, the gang made themselves at home, cooking up some supper, drinking beer and wine from the cellar and popping next door to rob the neighbour while their victims looked on:

“They afterwards went into the cellar and drank several bottles of ale and wine, and broiled some meat, ate the relicts of a fillet of veal … and then they all went off, taking two of the farmer’s horses, to carry off their luggage…” – Read’s Weekly Journal, 8 February 1735

Following the incident, worried residents of Loughton, which in those days was a small village in the forest, installed ‘Turpin traps’ in their homes to protect themselves. These were heavy wooden flaps that could be let down to block the stairs, and were wedged in place with a pole. These traps remained in some homes for decades – apparently people living in the 1890s could still remember local homes having them.

Turpin themed ornaments were popular for many years as the legend of Dick Turpin grew. He was seen romantically by some as another Robin Hood – but although an important figure in our local history, sadly all the evidence points to Dick Turpin as being nothing more than a ruthless criminal.



Art and Craft Activities

Week 3 – Trace and Colour

This is a great simple idea and fun to try at home.


What you need - trace and colourResources you’ll need

  • sheet of paper
  • a pencil
  • colouring pens or pencils
  • lots of different household objects with interesting shapes.



Place the objects on the paper – you might want to plan your picture by placing them all first, or just do one at a time and see what happens.  Draw around one object at a time with a pencil – overlapping the objects can make a good effect.  Colour in the objects, using different colours where they overlap.  Try colouring one colour over another and see what happens.

Have fun – and don’t forget to share your art.  We’d love to see what you come up with!

Trace and colour

Museum Garden from home

Victoria Robertson, our Community Engagement Officer, has taken the Museum Garden into her own home to keep it going while we are closed and get it ready for the new season when we reopen. Here is what she has been up to.

Garden 1


Celery Golden Self Blanching new

Seeds can be sown indoors or in the green house like I have. The stalks of Golden Self Blanching are much more yellow rather than green they will be ready to begin harvesting in August. They have a very strong flavour great in soups and taste great braised in the oven.





garden 2

Lettuce All The Year

These seeds will provide lettuce all year round. In the winter months they can be kept in a greenhouse, cold frame or on a window sill indoors. They are a crunchy butterhead variety a great all round lettuce excellent for salads or in sandwiches. Can be harvested at the leafy stage. If left in to mature the hearts will form.




Garden 3


Dwalf Kale is a very vigorous grower that is cold hardy. It can withstand light frost. It is an early variety of Kale that produces a great crop of crumpled deep green foliage leaves.

Spring onions

They are simple to grow in a sunny site and are an essential summer vegetable especially great in salads and omelettes.

Runner beans

Runner Beans need to be started like this in small pots. Runner Beans will usually germinate in about a week. I will have to harden off the Runner Bean plants every day for 7 days before I bring them outdoors.

Garden 4

This is the space that I will devote to the museum growing project when I move my rhubarb out of the way it will be bigger. I will also grow produce inside my greenhouse. I have removed some weeds and will dig in some well-rotted manure to improve the soil conditions. It is in full sun and will be a perfect temporary space that I can use for the project and to share the growing progress.



Art and Craft Activities

Week 2 Family Art and Craft – Easter Bunny!

Easter Bunny Mask Example photo with ears and handle

We are sorry not to see you all at the museum for our Easter Family Fun activities.  We thought you might be missing the museum as much as we are so why not have a go at the Easter Activity at home?

If you would like to have a go at one of the activities at home, here’s the Easter Bunny Mask Template 1 for our Easter Bunny Mask – it’s simple and fun to make at home.




Resources you’ll need

  • sheet of paper or card
  • printer (if not you can draw out the template
  • glue
  • cotton wool and any other materials to make your bunny as fun as possible.
  • string or strip of card

All you need is a sheet of paper or card.  You can print the template off, colour it in and cut it out.  If you don’t have a printer just have a go at drawing it yourself – you can even fold the paper in half lengthways so you just draw half the bunny face, then cut it out while still folded to give you the whole mask!

If you have glue you could add cotton wool and any other materials to make your bunny as fun as possible.  Just tie on some string or staple a strip of card from a cereal box on the side to make a handle to hold the mask in front of your face!  Happy Easter!!

Art and Craft Activities

While you are staying at home we thought we would share some great craft activities you could do!

Week 1: Big letters

Big letters - Family

Leanne has been making some art resource boxes for the museum.  Lots of the ideas in it are very simple things you can do at home with everyday things.  To start off, try this big letter activity – think of a word that means a lot you and have fun GOING BIG WITH IT!!

Resources you’ll need

  • paper or card (cereal boxes are perfect)
  • pencil, colouring pens or pencils
  • scrap material
  • coloured paper
  • glue

Draw outlines of your letters on card – don’t worry about making them perfect – think about turning a letter into a bubble shape.  Decorate the letters any way you like by colouring them in, sticking things to them etc.  You can keep them separate and stick them up, or make a little hole in them then thread them on to wool or string to hang up.

Here are some ideas for you:

  • The Y is made from sticking on buttons
  • The F uses fabric we had lying around
  • The L is made from felt
  • The M uses tissues screwed up into little balls and stuck on
  • The A and I are painted

Get creative and share your words with us!

NEW programme of exciting history day workshops!

Epping Forest District Museum is launching a NEW programme of exciting and engaging history days.


Ofsted’s new inspection framework emphasises:

  • the importance of equality of opportunity, giving pupils a broad and balanced curriculum, developing their subject knowledge and skills in foundation subjects, especially history.

Now is the time to make use of your museum, a great value local resource with experienced educators who can support the implementation of your curriculum intent, with an experience that is bound to have a huge impact on your pupils.


‘It really matters that children learn and enjoy things they won’t necessarily experience at home’  Amanda Speilman, HM Chief Inspector of Education



New Workshops available:

Toys in the Past  (KS1 / FS)

DISCOVER the toys local girl Ellen Buxton played with 100 years ago, using images from her beautiful diary and real old toys from the museum collection to consider similarities and differences with modern toys.

EXPLORE toys through the ages in the museum galleries, through a museum trail and the chance to play with old toys and games.

CREATE a toy from the past to take home and enjoy.

Prehistory: Stone Age to Iron Age (KS2)

IMG_0230DISCOVER how the local environment changed through the Stone Ages, and how people living here adapted to these changes. Find out how archaeologists learn about the past by studying real Stone Age objects including real woolly mammoth remains.

EXPLORE the museum collection to find out more about life in prehistoric times through a museum trail and additional gallery activities.

CREATE a clay pot using the same techniques as Bronze Age people in this area or make a mini mammoth to take home.

Local Legends – Significant people from our Local Area  (KS1 or KS2)

1H8A5224DISCOVER the history of our local area, through the stories of significant local people from ancient to modern times. Develop your chronological understanding by placing these people on a timeline and get fully engaged in the past with opportunities to dress up and role-play.

EXPLORE the museum to find more significant local people and where they lived or worked.  Develop historical skills using evidence to separate fact from legend.

CREATE a print in the style of local artist Walter Spradbery, and learn about how Epping Forest has been a centre of creativity for over 100 years.

Local study – Victorians or Tudors (KS2)

StockShots2016-019DISCOVER how local people lived in the past using a variety of artefacts and documents. Both sessions include dressing up and the chance to handle and investigate original objects as evidence for the past.

EXPLORE the collection, including a trail through the museum’s original timber-framed Tudor house; or a chance to go “behind the scenes” and create a museum display of real Victorian objects.

CREATE a Tudor sundial or a Victorian sampler to take home.

Anglo Saxons and Vikings (KS2)

DISCOVER the evidence for Anglo Saxon and Viking settlement in the local area, and what artefacts found by archaeologists reveal about what these people were really like.

EXPLORE the museum to find out more about local life through a trail and see some of the special artefacts in the museum’s collection usually kept in the stores.

CREATE an Anglo Saxon helmet out of card to take home.

Romans  (KS2)

DISCOVER the story of Romans who settled in the local area through a role playing workshop.  Examine the real evidence discovered by archaeologists at the site of a Roman villa.

EXPLORE the galleries to find out more about life locally in Roman times, and see some of the special Roman collection behind the scenes.

CREATE a cut-out Roman soldier or lady of the villa.

For more information or to book contact: Catherine Hammond, Education Officer 01992 564994 chammond@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Venue: Epping Forest District Museum, 39 – 41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL    The museum is fully accessible, with lift access to all floors. 

Availability: from May 2020 onwards Timing: A full day programme includes 3 workshops, breaks and lunch which can be eaten in the museum garden or inside if wet. Timings are flexible to suit your school.

Cost: £7 per pupil. The museum shop is available for pupils to use.                                  Book before Easter 2020 to get the discount rate of £5.60 per pupil.

Transport: coaches can drop off on Quaker Lane, next to the museum

You Wear it Well – volunteer blogs

Hear from some of our volunteers about their latest project, helping with the You Wear It Well exhibition and why they want to be a volunteer!

helenName: Helen

What is the current exhibition you are working on about?

The costume exhibition is called ‘You Wear it Well’. It tells the story of the museum’s costume collection and how we care for it.

Which has been your favourite costume you’ve worked on so far and why?

The 1914 wedding dress, it has swing to its structure and style.



What are you working on at the moment and going to work on next?

I have been working on condition checking and preparing for the exhibition. I have also been steaming the costume ready for photography and display. The next steps will including searching for ephemera related to the exhibition.

Why have you chosen to volunteer at Epping Forest District Museum?

I have an interest in history and museums in general. Also, a local resident in Waltham Abbey.

You Wear it Well – volunteer blogs

Hear from some of our volunteers about their latest project, helping with the You Wear It Well exhibition and why they want to be a volunteer!

MichaelaName: Michaela

What is the current exhibition you are working on about?

‘Wear it well’ – costume exhibition, deals with various aspects of the history of clothes from early 20th century up until the present day. This exhibition also explains how to look after the costume collection and what damages could occur.

Which has been your favourite costume you’ve worked on so far and why?

One of them would be an evening dress with floral decorations, a light blue one from the 1950s. It has a lovely ballroom feel, it’s in great condition, and as I love that time period, it is one of my favourites of this exhibition.

What are you working on at the moment and going to work on next?

I have been measuring and condition checking the costumes we chose for the exhibition, also I have started steaming them and will continue to do this.

Why have you chosen to volunteer at Epping Forest District Museum?

I have always been interested in history (any field) and have visited various museums since I was a child. As I don’t live far away and have a keen interest in behind the museum scenes, Epping Forest District Museum was an easy choice. I have learned a lot and have met lovely people.

You Wear it Well – volunteer blogs

Hear from some of our volunteers about their latest project, helping with the You Wear It Well exhibition and why they want to be a volunteer!

JoanName: Joan

What is the current exhibition you are working on about?

‘You wear it well’ exhibition is the new display for 2020. It involves fashion and accessories portraying the museums costume collection.

Which has been your favourite costume you’ve worked on so far and why?

A long black velvet evening coat, its timeless! It is elegant in good condition and the coat can be worn and suited over any dress.



What are you working on at the moment and going to work on next?

At the moment we are working on conditioning reports for the exhibition, such as accessories. Next, we have plans for laying out the Perspex exhibition cubes.

Why have you chosen to volunteer at Epping Forest District Museum?

I have a love of history, its interesting to learn low artefacts are cared for through conversation. Meeting new friends, in the last two years I have enjoyed working on the costume.

Being an apprentice at Epping Forest District Museum

Melis 1`Hi there, my name is Melis and I am a business admin and customer service apprentice at Epping Forest District Council. My first 6-month placement was here at Epping Forest District Museum.

My journey started off with leaving Harlow college with a distinction in music, and not knowing my next step to success. I had no interest in going to university or carry on being in education. My initial plan was to carry on doing music, but my route changed after having the suggestion of joining the council as an apprentice by my own mother.

I applied not knowing anything about the council at all, and within a few weeks, I had received an email to inform me that I will be interviewed but with a pre-training week taking place beforehand.

During my pre-training week, I met other apprentices to be, who were part of my age group, I wasn’t expecting this at all. I had learnt more about the departments in the council and a few skills on how to undergo an interview. All of this really helped me with succeeding in securing my apprenticeship placement at the council.

My interview had taken place right after that week and I believe that was the best interview I had ever experienced. This was because I felt more comfortable knowing that I had practiced this time. Whereas with my part time jobs in the past, I hadn’t prepared for an interview before and my interviews were based on how well I worked in a team activity rather than having a discussion in a one-to one meeting.

Melis 3My interviewer had asked which placement I’d be interested to work in first, and straight away I wanted to work at the museum as I had an interest in history and really liked working with children.

On induction day, we were presented to our managers and I was so delighted to meet my manager knowing that I had got the placement I wanted, I was very grateful. The next day, I had toured round the museum and Hemnall street and all my colleagues had introduced themselves to me and made me feel welcome.


I have been doing a variety of things at my first placement. I focused on a schedule that I’d be doing from Monday to Friday. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I’d be working with a colleague on marketing tasks, which would include marketing theory and updating contact lists for upcoming events. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I would be helping the volunteers with the museum collection which was a great experience because, I had the opportunity to hold old items even from the Victorian period. I’d add new collections onto a spreadsheet, move boxes around to see what needs to be put on display and sometimes clean these items in a specific way as these were really old and delicate things to take care of.

On Friday mornings I’d sit on reception, deal with customers face to face as well as over the phone. I learnt how to use the till and learnt more about the shop stock which was interesting.

Aside from these specific projects I’d also deal with customers over the phone whilst being in the office and help with a number of activities and events that took place. For example: Toddler Tuesdays which is once a month and Museum Movers which is a movement class for those over 55. It was great to participate in these activities because not only was it fun but, I’d meet new customers all the time and they were very friendly.

I do not know where my next placement will be, but I am excited as there are so many opportunities coming my way. My apprenticeship lasts for 2 years meaning I get to work in four placements in total. Even if I am not keen on one placement, I will remain optimistic because firstly, it will give me the benefit of learning new skills, and secondly, it will help me decide which areas I would like to work in when I apply for a job at the council in two years’ time.

I have had a lovely experience here and I will really miss the Museum and staff and the volunteers, and surely will visit again soon!