The main settlement in the Epping area was originally located on the north side of Cobbins Brook, at the village now known as Epping Upland. Most of the medieval rural settlement was also located on that side of the brook. From the mid-twelfth century onwards the canons of Waltham Abbey, who owned the estate of Eppingbury to the south of the Cobbins Brook, began assarting and clearing Epping Heath within the forest in order to increase the extent of their estate. The town of Epping was planted by the canons of Waltham Abbey to capitalise on the trade passing along the London-Cambridge route, and hence maximise their assets from the estate.
In 1253 the canons were granted a charter for the town and permission to clear timber for the construction of stalls and houses. However, there are indications in the documentary evidence that there had already been occupation of the site for the previous twenty-five years. The town lay on the south-eastern side of the main routeway, which was widened to form a market-place. In plan and origin it has considerable similarities to Brentwood.
The pace of development was slow in the early post-medieval period, but picked up in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when Epping was a noted supplier of agricultural produce (specialising in butter and geese) to the London market and a staging point for coaches travelling between London and East Anglia. The coach traffic was killed by the introduction of the railway, which by-passed Epping. However, there was a revival in fortunes when a branch line to the town was built in 1865. It is now largely a commuter town for London.