The 'peaceful' Essex town with a 'millionaire street' loved by celebrities

Chigwell town centre in Essex
-Credit: (Image: EssexLive)

Alan Sugar, Mark Wright and Rod Stewart are just a handful of the celebrities who have called Chigwell home over the years - but what makes it so attractive to the famous faces who have lived there? We headed out to the Essex town to ask people in the town what it's really like.

Essex has had its fair share of celebrities living in the county and while there are many towns, cities and villages our stars call home Chigwell is somewhat of a celeb magnet. If celebrities aren't living there then they are flocking to hotspot Sheesh for dinner. #

The Essex town is inside the M25, has the M11 on its west side, and is served by the Chigwell and Grange Hill central line Underground Stations. Yet Chigwell encompasses and is bordered by a lot of green space, as the grey, built-up areas of the sprawling capital loosen their hold.

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You are faced with two options as you exit Chigwell tube station on the High Road. Turn right to reach the high street and green a stone’s throw away. In this direction, you will also find the library, community halls, pub, residential areas and the independent co-ed Chigwell School.

Or turn left to walk down a road of large, mansion-like, detached houses, and pass Chigwell Golf Club and the co-ed academy West Hatch High School. It is a beautiful, peaceful place, with a friendly community and village-like atmosphere which also offers direct access to London, with the downside of high housing prices.

John Thoma, managing director of the John Thoma Bespoke Estate Agency based in Chigwell High Road says people who move to Chigwell feel like they are "getting a promotion to a better area." He says they are drawn to its village-like atmosphere and good schooling opportunities, and, above all, they feel safe there.

Though house prices are high in Chigwell (around £750,000 for a three-bed semi-detached house, says Thoma), he tells me people move to the town as an investment, knowing that property values will continue to rise. He adds that Chigwell’s high street, Brook Parade, ‘seems to be evolving’, making it a dynamic town centre.

Roy Dambrusakas, who has worked at Chigwell Garden Centre for 14 years of its 50-year history
Roy Dambrusakas, who has worked at Chigwell Garden Centre for 14 years of its 50-year history -Credit:EssexLive

Nearby is Chigwell Garden Centre where blossoming potted and runner plants greet you at the entrance, which has ample room for parking. Fresh marjoram, lavender and rosemary feature among an A-Z of herbs for sale, surrounded by shrubs, roses, and much more.

Roy Dambrusakas, who has worked at Chigwell Garden Centre for 14 years of its 50-year history calls the mansion-lined part of the High Road ‘millionaire street’. Of Chigwell, he says: “It’s the best place… a very nice area, it’s beautiful.”

In true ‘a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker’ fashion Brook Parade, has a hairdresser, a barber and an interior designer. A health food shop, hardware store, dry cleaner’s, therapy centre, as well as takeaways, mini supermarkets, eateries, a deli and a florist are among the other businesses on the Parade.

Kamil Gulal of Chigwell Fish Bar
Kamil Gulal of Chigwell Fish Bar -Credit:EssexLive

Kamil Gulal of Chigwell Fish Bar, says: “It’s a nice and peaceful, tranquil area. A retirement area, a posh area. People like exclusivity – it used to be less crowded. It’s getting more crowded. It’s getting more busy. Now we’re getting more shops (on the Parade), and new flats and a new Co-op.

“It’s a nice area, but I wouldn’t live here. There’s not much opportunities. There’s only one bus. You definitely need a car, otherwise you can’t go anywhere. It’s not a convenient place unless you’ve got a car, or you do shopping online," he claims.

“It’s a nice area for peace and quiet, nothing else. If you just want peace, it’s a nice area. And if you’ve got the money.”

Karen Crawford who works in Chigwell's Health Foods shop
Karen Crawford who works in Chigwell's Health Foods shop -Credit:EssexLive

Near to the Fish Bar is Chigwell’s Health Foods shop, where Karen Crawford is working behind the counter which bursts with extremely tempting-looking chocolates. Karen lives in a nearby town but has been working in Chigwell for just under 30 years.

She says: “It’s peaceful. Nice history, nice people, nice atmosphere… It has a nice little village feel. The only thing that’s a downside is that the central line… (Chigwell) is on that funny loop… it must be a bit of a pain. At night, if people are coming home on their own… ladies… I wouldn’t want to do that.”

She says Chigwell is a nice place to live for all ages. She added: “It’s got the big houses for people with families, it’s got smaller, nice apartments, and you’re on the edge of Epping Forest…”

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