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The earliest written evidence of this settlement is in the charter of Edward the Confessor in 1062 which granted various estates, including Tippedene (Debden) and Alwartune (Alderton Hall, in Loughton), to Harold Godwinson (later King Harold II) following his re-founding of Waltham Abbey.Following the Norman conquest, the town is also mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, with the name Lochintuna.The parish of Loughton covers an area of about 3,724 acres (15 km), but in 1996 some parts of the south of the old parish were transferred to Buckhurst Hill parish, and other small portions to Chigwell and Theydon Bois.At the time of the 2001 census Loughton had a population of 30,340, The earliest structure in Loughton is Loughton Camp, an Iron Age earth fort in Epping Forest dating from around 500 BC.It is located between 11 and 13 miles (21 km) north east of Charing Cross in London, south of the M25 and west of the M11 motorway and has boundaries with Chingford, Waltham Abbey, Theydon Bois, Chigwell and Buckhurst Hill.Loughton includes three conservation areas and there are 56 listed buildings in the town, together with a further 50 that are locally listed.As the forest disappeared and landowners began enclosing more of it for private use, many began to express concern at the loss of such a significant natural resource and common land.Some Loughton villagers defied landowners to practice their ancient right to lop wood—a series of court cases, including one brought by the Loughton labourer Thomas Willingale, was needed before the City of London Corporation took legal action against the landowners' enclosures, resulting in the Epping Forest Act of 1878 which preserved the forest for use by the public.
In 2008, electronics firm Amshold announced their intention to move the group's headquarters to Loughton from Brentwood.The settlement remained a small village until the early 17th century when the high road was extended north through the forest.The road quickly became the main route from London to Cambridge and East Anglia, and Loughton grew into an important stop with coaching inns. Maitland, whose family held the manor for much of the 19th century.The Roding valley is somewhat marshy and the river is prone to flooding, so construction close to the river is very limited and the majority of the land around it has been designated as a nature reserve or left as open space parkland.The M11 motorway that follows the course of the Roding along this section of its length is built on raised banks or flyovers, to avoid potential problems with flooding.
Loughton was a fashionable place for artistic and scientific residents in Victorian and Edwardian times, and a number of prominent residents were renowned socialists, nonconformists, and social reformers.