Hainault Forest Run 3/7/20
Though it initially comprised at least 17,000 acres, Hainault Forest was only a section of the huge ancient Forest of Essex, which had covered nearly all of that county for centuries. Hainault Forest was a royal forest which was therefore subject to "forest law" which dated back to the reign of King Canute (1017-1035). It was a royal hunting ground, the use of which was reserved for the sole pleasure of the king. The forest was kept stocked with game which were supervised and managed by officers of the king. Over the centuries, the name of the forest has been given as Hyneholt, Hineholt, Inholt, Henholt, and Heynault. By 1720, it was most usually known as Hainault. It has been suggested by some scholars that the source of the name is Hainault, Germany, the birthplace of Queen Philippa, wife of King Edward III. However, the name appeared in royal records well before the reign of Edward III in the aforementioned variations, all of which are believed to be versions of the Saxon term "Héan holt," meaning the high wood. That would seem to be the more likely source of the name, which devolved to the more familiar Hainault in the early eighteenth century, when Saxon memories and knowledge had long since faded away.