Higham Hill

Higham Hill, Waltham Forest

The disadvantaged north-western part of Walthamstow

geograph-4655840-by-Marathon - Mayfield Road - Higham Hill

Saxons made a clearing in the forest here and the manor of Higham is recorded in Domesday Book. The original Higham House was located here, near present-day Sutton Road. The house was subsequently rebuilt in the far east of the manor, facing Woodford Green.

The manor went through several subdi­vi­sions and reuni­fic­a­tions and this part was later called Higham Benstead. It was in the hands of the Heron family for many years but was at one point seized by the crown because of a marriage to the daughter of the ‘trait­orous’ Sir Thomas More. The hill itself was common land with grazing rights permitted to local parish­ioners.

A bridge across the River Lea was said to have been in existence in 1594, when a moder­ately large hamlet had evolved. The population then went into a decline until the enclosure of the common in 1850, which led to some tentative suburban devel­opment in the 1870s.

A block of flats at Priory Court

By the end of the 19th century parts of Higham Hill had been densely built up, and some of the housing became overcrowded.

Walthamstow council began the first of its many slum clearance and rebuilding projects here after the First World War, in Millfield Avenue. Among the other schemes were the Higham Hill estate of 1920 and Priory Court, begun in 1946 and subsequently rebuilt.

Successive phases of redevel­opment brought tower blocks in the 1960s and 1970s and large sums were spent on neigh­bourhood renewal programmes in the period before austerity.

Unemployment levels are relat­ively high, while the largest proportion of men and women work in wholesale, retail and car repair activ­ities. Around half of residents rent their homes, most from the council. Islam is the second most predom­inant faith after Christianity.

According to the website/​blog London Street Gangs, Higham Hill is known locally as Grimehill and its dominant youth gang has for some while been the Priory Court Boys (or some renamed incarnation of the same outfit).

Postal district: E17
Population: 13,194 (2011 census)
* The picture of Mayfield Road at the top of this article is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Marathon, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse of the image is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.