Thomas Willingale was born at Stanford Rivers in 1798 and died in 1870. He had ‘lopping rights’ which allowed him to ‘lop’ wood from the forest at certain times of the year.
Some of the larger landowners were enclosing and selling parts of the forest. The Reverend John Whitaker Maitland began to prosecute for the cutting of the wood from the forest.
Thomas Willingale continued to lop wood. The Lords of the Manor tried all means to stop Tom. Their agents offered him large sums of money and issued a summons against him.
In October1866 Willingale’s solicitor filed a Bill in Chancery of Willingale v. Maitland (and others) on behalf of himself and all the inhabitants of Loughton for the preservation of lopping rights for the benefit of all in Loughton. Eventually the court ruled that the enclosure was not legal and the case closed in 1874.
In May 1882 Queen Victoria planted a tree in front of the King’s Oak, High Beech, and dedicated the forest as an open space ‘for the enjoyment of the people for ever’. ~More information can be found in the Local Area History Resource.
The classes are all named after trees in recognition of Thomas Willingale’s part in saving the forest for the people. The trees can all be found around the school grounds.