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Hidden by dense undergrowth for centuries it was rediscovered in 1872.
The first references to the site of modern-day Loughton date from the Anglo-Saxon period when it was known as Lukintune ("the farm of Luhha").
In 1948 the line was electrified and transferred to London Transport to become part of the Central line on the London Underground.
The arrival of the railways also provided visitors from London with a convenient means of reaching Epping Forest and thus transforming it into the "East Enders' Playground".
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.
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.
The railway first came to Loughton in 1856 when the Eastern Counties Railway, (later the Great Eastern Railway), opened a branch line via Woodford.
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.
In the north-east is a post-war development being one of the London County Council's country estates.
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.