According to P. H. Reaney's 'Place-Names of Essex', the most authoritative guide to etymology in the county, the name means 'Cicca's well', Cicca being an Anglo-Saxon personal name. Folk etymology derives the name from a lost 'king's well', supposed to have been to the south-east of the town centre near the border of what is now the London Borough of Redbridge. There were several medicinal springs in Chigwell Row.
Traditionally a rural farming community, but now largely suburban, Chigwell was mentioned in the Domesday Book and later lauded by Charles Dickens in the novel Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty; the Maypole Inn is based on the King's Head inn, though the name was taken from the Maypole public house in Chigwell Row; and it is likely Dickens visited both hostelries. Charles Dickens frequently visited Chigwell, which he described in a letter as "the greatest place in the world...Such a delicious old inn opposite the church...such beautiful forest scenery...such an out of the way rural place!".
From 1933 to 1974 Chigwell formed together with Buckhurst Hill and Loughton the Chigwell Urban District. Parish councils were re-established for the parishes of Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, and Loughton in 1996.
Chigwell School, a public school, was founded from a bequest by Samuel Harsnett, Archbishop of York, in 1629. Among its many famous past pupils is William Penn, who later went on to found Pennsylvania. The diarist John Aubrey recorded that it was at Chigwell School that Penn had a mystical vision, which influenced his later conversion to Quakerism. The original 17th-century schoolroom where Penn was taught still stands, and is now the school library.
Chigwell is characterised by large suburban houses, notably in Manor Road and Chigwell High Road, which featured in the popular English situation comedy Birds of a Feather (although many of the outside locations used in that programme were not in Chigwell). It is generally a wealthy area, which since the TV series Essex Wives journalists have called (with Loughton and Buckhurst Hill), the Essex golden triangle.
A small area of the original parish was attached to London Borough of Redbridge when it was created in 1965; this area is now known as the Manford estate.
The hamlet of Chigwell Row lies towards the east of Chigwell near Lambourne; this part of the parish is well forested and mostly rural.
Grange Hill is the area around the junction of Manor Road and Fencepiece Road/Hainault Road, extending as far as the boundary with Redbridge including the Limes Farm estate.
Chigwell is twinned with Mantes-la-Ville, a suburb of Paris, France.
|150||Becontree Heath to Chigwell Row via Ilford|
|167||Debden to Ilford via Barkingside|
|362||Grange Hill to King George Hospital via Marks Gate|
|462||Hainault (Manford Way) to Ilford via Gants Hill|
|667 (School Journeys)||West Hatch High School to Ilford via Barkingside|
|804 (School Journeys)||West Hatch High School to Debden via Loughton|