High Beach V High Beech

High Beach or High Beech? If you’ve never visited Suntrap Forest Centre on a school trip our beautiful outdoor learning centre is in High Beach, Epping Forest. But which spelling do you use for our address? High Beach an Anglo Saxon word for an area with sandy or gravel soil. Historically a glacial ice sheet covered Northern Europe c 18,000BC and slid down the east of England but split in the region of Epping Forest. One half gouged out the Lea Valley and the other half scraped out the Roding valley, leaving a ridge of clay topped with loam between the two valleys. This ridge forms the base of Epping Forest making High Beach a beach-like expanse of Ice-Age sand and gravel, 300 feet above sea level. You can still find seashells left over from when it was under the North Sea before the last ice age. Or a description of the Beech trees that grow in the area. Beech is a deciduous tree that belongs to the family Fagaceae and usually grows on chalk, limestone and other well-drained and fertile types of soil. The beech tree is a sturdy and imposing tree with a short trunk and wide-spreading crown. It has a lifespan of 150 to 400 years, depending on the species. Beech can reach from 15 to 50 meters (50 to 164 feet) in height, depending on the species. The bark is generally smooth and light grey in colour. But if that’s the case why not call it High Beeches as in Burnham Beeches as there is more than one tree? Which spelling is right? We ran a straw poll on the Suntrap Facebook page. The outcome to be announced on 7 July 2020. This poll proved very controversial and has been raging a long time as one commenter wrote ‘ I was reading a book at the weekend that addressed this back in 1907 and apparently either is appropriate’. Whilst someone else said ‘ Ken Hoy [leading educator at Suntrap] took the view it was High Beach because of the geology. The church used to have a carpet with both versions to keep the peace… I am a High Beacher… the post office has it wrong!’ Other comments included: ‘Map of High Beach from 1895 for sale and then zoom into see High Beech’ ‘The OS now use Beech on their online versions. On reprint they will change the paper maps to Beech also. The old road signs use Beech. I prefer Beech but both forms are acceptable and in use.’ ‘Aw I’m from Burnham Beeches. They put a road sign up years ago with a bucket and spade on it!’ But the poll is best summed up with: ‘But I want to vote both ways lol’