Harold Wood was once part of the royal hunting ground, with a small hamlet on the edge of the forest. Housing development in the area began after the Great Eastern Railway opened a small halt here in 1868. Land was initially donated to Hornchurch UDC in 1934 for use as Harold Wood Cricket Ground, which had existed since 1896. It later formed part of Harold Wood Park. The park was gradually provided with recreational facilities including football, lacrosse, cricket and tennis, a paddling pool and putting green. The park was 'well-provided with trees'; the River Ingrebourne runs north / south through the park, with a small bridge connecting the west side, where the majority of sports facilities are, to the east side and its 18-hole miniature golf course and pond.