Harold Wood station was opened on 1 December 1868 by the Great Eastern Railway on their main line to the East of England. Two additional tracks (normally used by fast services which do not stop at Harold Wood) were provided in 1934 under London and North Eastern Railway ownership. The name Harold Wood was recorded in about 1237, when it was shown as Horalds Wood. It was named after King Harold Godwinson, who was defeated by William the Conqueror in 1066. He held the surrounding manor of Havering-atte-Bower. Some of the original roads are named after Anglo-Saxon kings such as Æthelstan and Alfred the Great. Although locally situated within Essex the ancient Hornchurch parish formed the independent Liberty of Havering and was outside county administration. The special status of the Liberty of Havering was abolished in 1892 and the area was reincorporated into Essex.
The station is currently managed by TfL Rail. The vast majority of services call at Harold Wood as part of the Shenfield-Liverpool Street stopping "metro" service but Abellio Greater Anglia services for Southend Victoria call on Sundays. From 2019, Harold Wood will be fully served by Crossrail, linking it to additional stations in central London as well as Reading and London Heathrow Airport. TfL Rail, the precursor of Crossrail, took over the running of the Shenfield "metro" in May 2015. In 2017 new Class 345 trains will enter service as Crossrail partially opens. The route will be extended through central London to London Heathrow Airport and Reading in 2019. The platforms at Harold Wood will be extended from their current length of 169 metres (185 yd) to accommodate the Crossrail trains which will be over 200 metres (220 yd) long. New lifts, signage, help points, customer information screens and CCTV will also be installed, and the footbridge and stairwells will be renewed. The station has payphones, wi-fi, cash machines, toilets, help points, a car park and waiting room.
Connections: National Rail. London Buses routes 256, 294, 347 and 496 and non-TFL route HV1 serve the station.