An outdoor exhibition that highlights the essential role played by London’s parks and open spaces will open at Epping Forest this week.

From picnics and gardening to festivals and Sunday football kickabouts, Green City: A Visual History of London’s Parks and Open Spaces celebrates green spaces and the way in which Londoners have embraced and enjoyed the ‘great outdoors’ since the 16th century.

Curated by the City of London Corporation’s London Metropolitan Archives in Clerkenwell, the exhibition includes photographs and images of Epping Forest among the 100 photographs on display, which provide a unique record of these beautiful and varied sites.

The ancient woodland is London and Essex’s largest green space and is known as “the green lungs of London”.

The Forest is of national and international conservation importance, containing two registered historic parks, seven listed buildings, and three scheduled ancient monuments.

More than two thirds of Epping Forest is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

The exhibition will be on display at Epping Forest Visitor Centre in Ranger’s Road, Chingford from September 1 to 18.

As well as providing an escape, a place to relax or exercise in, and a habitat for wildlife, plants, and trees, Green City will acknowledge the hugely important role played by London’s parks and open spaces during lockdown at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ben Murphy, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee, said: “Open spaces play an undeniably important part in our lives – as places in which to exercise, relax, entertain and be entertained, and work – and our archivists have risen admirably to the challenge of selecting some superb images of Epping Forest to illustrate this point.

“For generations, City residents with limited access to green spaces have travelled to Epping Forest to enjoy the many miles of protected habitat, so I am delighted that the exhibition’s journey from the City, on to Aldgate and then, to Hampstead, finishes here.”

Green City: A Visual History of London’s Parks and Open Spaces is one of many visitor attractions curated by the City of London Corporation.