Walthamstow Village

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An unexpected treat in an undistinguished suburb

Walthamstow Village, Church End, E17


Vinegar Alley
Vine­gar Alley

Hid­den Lon­don has added the antique effects to the pic­tures on this page for the fun of it. In fact, they’re 21st-cen­tu­ry pho­tographs of extant prop­er­ties in Waltham­stow Vil­lage – also known as Church End – a delight­ful con­ser­va­tion area and for­mer win­ner of Time Out’s ‘best Lon­don vil­lage’ award.

There was a clear­ing in the for­est here at the time of Domes­day Book and the first church was built in 1145. The present St Mary’s Church seems to have evolved some­what hap­haz­ard­ly from that struc­ture and its expan­sive church­yard stands in for a vil­lage green.

Fac­ing the church­yard, the tim­ber-framed Ancient House (for­mer­ly the White House, shown below) dates from the 15th cen­tu­ry, with a west wing rebuilt in the 16th. The Ancient House was lov­ing­ly restored in 1934 and repaired again in 2002.

North of the church, Vine­gar Alley is alleged­ly so named because locals used vine­gar to sani­tise the soil after a plague pit was dug. Sir George Monoux found­ed almshous­es here in 1527, togeth­er with a school that lat­er relo­cat­ed to Chapel End, near­ly a mile to the north.

A Nag’s Head pub stood in the vil­lage by 1675. Squire’s almshous­es were built in 1795, while Orford House and The Chest­nuts date from the ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry. Most of the vil­lage was built up in the 20 years fol­low­ing the enclo­sure of Church Com­mon in 1850, includ­ing a new Nag’s Head on Orford Road (which is also now a con­ser­va­tion area). The vil­lage was saved from dis­fig­ure­ment by the open­ing of the sta­tion at Hoe Street (now Waltham­stow Cen­tral), which emphat­i­cal­ly drew com­mer­cial devel­op­ment away to the west.

Vestry House Museum with antique effect
Vestry House Muse­um

Waltham­stow work­house was built in 1730, and the church’s vestry meet­ings were also held here. Vestry House lat­er served as a police sta­tion, then as the head­quar­ters of the Waltham­stow Lit­er­ary and Sci­en­tif­ic Insti­tute and from 1892 as a pri­vate home, before becom­ing a muse­um of local his­to­ry in 1931. It also hous­es the borough’s archives and its local stud­ies library.

For infor­ma­tion on vis­it­ing the muse­um, see the details at the bot­tom of this page.

Ancient House

Vestry House Museum, Vestry Road, London E17 9NH
Phone: 020 8496 4391
Museum Website: vestryhousemuseum.org.uk
Open: Wednesday–Sunday 10am–5pm
Admission free
Village residents’ website: www.walthamstowvillage.net
Nearest stations: Walthamstow Central (Victoria line and National Rail), and Walthamstow Queen’s Road and Wood Street (both National Rail)