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The Tree Huts Of Epping Forest

September 7, 2023
by the gentle author

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Who can resist the lure of the forest? Since Epping Forest is a mere cycle ride from Spitalfields, each year I visit to seek refuge among the leafy shades. And, in the depths of the forest, I come upon these makeshift tree huts which fascinate me with the variety and ingenuity of their design.

Who can be responsible? Is it children making dens or land artists exploring sculptural notions? Clearly never weatherproof, they are not human habitations. I wondered if the sprites and hobgoblins had been at work constructing arbors for the spirits of the forest. But then I remembered I had seen something similar once before, Eeyore’s hut at the edge of the Hundred Acre Wood.

Some are elaborate constructions that are worthy of architecture and others merely collections of twigs which tease the eye, questioning whether they are random or deliberate. They conjure an air of ritualistic mystery and, the more I encountered, the more intrigued I became. So much effort and skill expended suggest deliberate purpose or intent, yet they remain an enigma.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. Stephen permalink
    September 7, 2023

    You have found a great collection of bivouac’s there, great to see so many intact. Thank you for sharing with us all. We were taught how to build ‘Bivvy’s’ in the scouts, learning how soldiers used to build them in the past and now used as shelters by campers, bird watchers, scouts and mountaineers (not many of those in Epping, I suspect)

  2. Angella-dee Sherriffe permalink
    September 7, 2023

    These are for drying out dead branches to burn in a wood burning cooker or heating. I think?

  3. Christa permalink
    September 7, 2023

    These explanations of practical purposes of the tree huts leave of course the deeper meaning out – these are fairytale items, magical forest furnishings, hiding places of phantastic creatures.
    Go and find out for yourself.

  4. September 7, 2023

    “My sculpture can last for days or a few seconds. What is important to me is the experience of making.” — Andy Goldsworthy

    Goldsworthy’s artwork always renews my joy of Making, and reminds me…….”We ARE nature”.
    These photos perfectly express the experimental hands-on experience of moving through the underbrush, finding one branch……..then another………then another……..and finding oneself engaged in the joyous human urge to “make”.

    I love these photos. They give me such a sense of optimism.
    Down to the studio! Thanks for this wonderful start to the day.

  5. Lynne permalink
    September 7, 2023

    I visit Epping Forest on a regular basis and I and my family have never figured them out. Children in my extended family enjoy them on walks. They become a diversion from the path. Time to play. When my now teenage son was younger, my partner and I told always him he might find Eeyore or Winnie the Pooh in one of them.

  6. Rob Harries permalink
    September 7, 2023

    My local primary has “wild school” in the local woods, and they build lots of these…

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