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What is a Verderer?

The office of the Verderer was first introduced almost 1,000 years ago by Saxon and Norman Kings. Verderers administered the Forest Law over the 60 forests used for hunting. The Verderers protected the 'vert' (vegetation) and the 'venison' (the hunting animals, principally deer and wild boar) of the forest.

Today, four Verderers sit on the Epping Forest and Commons Committee which manages Epping Forest. As the only locally-elected members of the committee, Verderers primarily represent local and community interest in the Forest.

How are Verderers elected?

Elections for Verderers take place every seven years. Two Verderers are elected by the commoners of the southern Forest parishes to represent them. A further two Verderers are elected in a similar way for the northern Forest parishes. If any of the Verderers resign or leave office between these elections, the committee may appoint a replacement who can stay in office until the next election.

To qualify as a Verderer, a person must not be a member of the Court of Common Council of the City of London, and must also reside within one of the original Forest parishes.

The next election for Verderers is in 2020.

Who are our current Epping Forest Verderers?

A portrait of Melissa Murphy, Verderer-Elect of Epping Forest.

Melissa Murphy

​Melissa Murphy

Melissa lives in Epping. She works as a planning and environmental law barrister in London. She takes a keen interest in local authority matters. Her legal practice focuses on heritage conservation, planning enforcement, air quality and sustainability.

Like many people living in the communities surrounding Epping Forest, Melissa and her young family visit the Forest in all seasons, enjoying walking, running, cycling and horseriding in particular.

Contact details

1A Greenacres
Essex, CM16 6RS

A portrait photo of Jo Thomas.

​​Dr Jo Thomas

Dr Jo Thomas

Born in the Forest Parish of Chigwell, Jo has lived and worked for most of her life in Loughton, where she also worked as a GP – Dr Jo Ide – for some 30 years. Jo has always been, and still is, a keen and regular Forest walker, dog walker and rider which Jo combines with an involvement in many local charities.

Contact details

North Farmhouse
High Road
Essex, IG10 4JJ

Verderer Michael Chapman

​Michael Chapman DL

Michael Chapman DL

Michael is a Notary Public and Solicitor who has lived all his life either in the Forest parishes of Theydon Bois or Epping. He was educated at Leyton County High and then articled to solicitors in Loughton. Michael is currently Deputy Lieutenant of Essex and a former Chairman and now Vice President of the Theydon Bois Rural Preservation Society. Michael also serves as Chairman of St Clare Hospice and Associate of the Epping Forest Field Centre.

Contact details

Goosebury Hall
Epping Long Green
Essex, CM16 6QN

19 March 2012
Last Modified:
05 September 2018