The Epping Forest district is rich in history and culture. Waltham Abbey, the Royal Gunpowder Mills, Blake Hall and North Weald enjoy high public profiles. Historic and literary figures as diverse as Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens and the infamous Dick Turpin have added colour and some notoriety. But nestling on the boundary between Upshire and Epping Upland, one of our oldest and most important historic buildings is once again becoming a centre for culture and the community.
The history of the Copped Hall Estate stretches back many hundreds of years. The first performance of A Mid-Summer Night`s Dream is said to have been performed in the grounds of the old Tudor mansion. For centuries, the lives of people for miles around were centred on the Estate.
Then, disaster struck. In 1917, the Hall was gutted by fire. It became a shell in danger of collapse and total loss.
But Copped Hall holds a special place in our imaginations. Battered and scarred, it still inspires. And none more so than in the mind of the winner of our next award, made this evening in recognition of his flair, passion and sheer determination to see Copped Hall restored to its former glory, though not this time as a seat of privilege but as a centre of history and culture for our whole community.
Since 1986 he has worked tirelessly, first to secure, then to stabilise, before beginning the long process of restoration. He has not been alone. There are now some 1,000 Friends of Copped Hall, many of whom are actively involved in the restoration work and community activities, a Board of Trustees and a range of other partners driving forward or supporting the process.
Copped Hall is coming back to life thanks in large part to the leadership of our award winner. Special Conservation Award goes to the Alan Cox, architect leading the restoration of Copped Hall.