The Epping Forest Act placed all the commons and forest in the parish of Epping, except Rye Hill, under the protection and management of the City of London, thus ensuring their preservation.
We learnt the background from Lopping Hall. Briefly: the inhabitants of Loughton had an ancient right to go into the forest at certain times of the year and lop (cut off) branches above a certain height, for firewood. In the 19th century William Whitaker Maitland who was Lord of the Manor and also rector of Loughton, threatened this right by enclosing common land. In 1866 labourer Thomas Willingale (1799–1870) decided to continue loping and launched a legal challenge on behalf of the residents.
It was all resolved in 1878 by the Epping Forest Act which stopped the enclosures and also ended lopping rights (hence the compensatory building of Lopping Hall). Some individual compensatory payments were also made. The City of London took on responsibility for the Forest which was to be ".. an open space for the recreation and enjoyment of the people".