If you fancy a wonderful day out head to Walthamstow Village located in London E17. This designated conservation area (since 1967) is located in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. It’s very much a village vibe which really does have it all. You’ve got historical buildings, churches, almshouses and the Vestry House Museum. You’ll find some great independent eateries and shops situated on Orford Road. At the weekend it’s open house at an industrial yard where you’ll find God’s Own Junk Yard, Wild Card Brewery and Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace. Join me on a walking tour of Walthamstow Village.
Walthamstow Village Attractions
The word Walthamstow is a combination of ‘Weald’ (wood), ‘Ham’ (manor) and ‘Stow’ (place). You can step back in time by visiting Walthamstow village which used to be the main center and Orford Road was very prominent in the history. To reach this wonderful part of East London travel to Walthamstow Central. Exit the station, cross over Hoe Street, head up St Mary Road, right into West Ave and left when you reach Orford Road where this tour begins.
Orford Social Club: Just before you reach the shops and eateries you might notice the Orford House Social Club at number 73. This is a large white building from 1802 which, according to the Walthamstow Village Website, is reputed to be one of the oldest historic buildings in the vicinity. This imposing stuccoed neo-classical house was built for a rich city merchant called Patrick Chalmers which remained in the family until 1834. This property had a few owners over the years and finally became a social club in 1921.
Orford Road Restaurants and Shops: You’ll spot the vintage Hovis bread signage jutting out from a building which is the beginning of the shopping and eating area. With minimal traffic along the road you can dine on the street in front of the eateries when the sun is shining. Tuck into some gastro pub grub, bag yourself a Sunday lunch or enjoy your weekend brunch. With a great mix of cuisines from English (Eat 17), Spanish (Orford Saloon) and more, you’ll find something to tempt you. There are a few shops to browse which include knitwear designer Debbie Bliss, antique store Finamore and Here on Earth where you can buy art, design and craft goods. To find out more about the eateries you can read my Orford Road Restaurants feature.
Walthamstow Village Market: On Saturdays between 10.30am-3pm you’ll see a gathering of food stalls located at The Asian Centre. The Walthamstow Village Market is a collection of Local farmers, food producers and traders gather to bring the community delicious food and drinks ranging from coffee, to cakes, pitta filled with falafel to gourmet burgers. Food stalls can be found outside and inside the centre where there are tables and chairs.
Walthamstow Village Square: Opposite The Asian Center is a small patch of land with a couple of benches if you fancy a sit down. You’ll see a community notice board which will keep you up to date about local events.
Old Town Hall: Just past the Asian Centre is the Old Town Hall. This was built by the council in 1876 when the area started to became more populated. Previously the Vestry House was where ratepayers would go to settle their bills. After more growth, the town hall moved to Forest Road.
Ravenswood Industrial Estate: If you carry on up Orford Road and turn into Summit Road on your right you will find an industrial estate (alternative entrance in Shernhall Street). This is a place worth checking out at the weekend where you will find a few interesting businesses. God’s Own Junkyard is a massive warehouse packed full of neon vintage signs with a coffee shop attached and outside lovely outside garden. To find out more read my God’s Own Junkyard Post. You will also find the Wild Card Brewery here and at the weekend the Brewery Tap Bar is open with tables and chairs outside. You can sample bottled and cask beer from Wild Card and other London micro-breweries along with cider, wine, spirits and street food. The Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace is located here making a selection of flavoured damson and sloe gins. You can also visit these drinking venues on Friday nights.
Nag’s Head and Coach House: Back onto Orford Road and continue up to the Nag’s Head pub. Here you can relax in the back garden or out the front and order a pizza. This is a cat friendly establishment so expect to have something rub against your legs! Notice the Coach House next door to the pub. Back in the middle of the 1700s, the owner of the pub used to run a stage coach from Walthamstow to Leyton.
Timber Framed Hall House: On the corner is the timber framed house which is also referred to as the ancient house and the hall house. This dates back to the 15th century which was restored in 1934 to its former glory.
St Mary’s Church: Opposite is a pretty church which Ralph de Toni is credited for making a permanent flint building in the 12th century (previously a timber structure). The building has been modified over the years; George Monoux erected a red brick tower. According to an article on Wikipedia, the church still retains many brasses and monuments, the oldest dates back to 1436. The graveyard contains war graves and two mass graves from the Black Death (around 1347) and The Great Plague (1665). At the back of the church is Vinegar Alley which is likely to have been called so after graves were filled with vinegar to stop the spread of disease. To find out more about the history and construction you can read the St Mary’s article on Wikipedia.
Monoux Almshouses: Behind St Mary’s Church is the Monoux Almshouses. These were named after Sir George Monoux who lived 1465-1544 and was the Lord Mayor of London in 1514.
Squires Almshouses: Stop to admire the Squires Almshouses on Vestry Road which were built for widows of tradesmen in 1795. Named after Mrs Mary Squires who was the widow of St Mary Newington.
Church Passage: Walk down this path to see some cute village style houses. There is also a very narrow house with has a blue framed glass front and measures 2.5 meters across.
Vestry House Museum: Across the road from the Squires Almshouses is the Vestry House Museum. This building was once the parish workhouse from 1730-1840, the police station, armoury, builders yard and a private home. Today it is a free museum open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday 10am-5pm. Inside you can find out about the history of Waltham Forest. Make sure you see the Bremer Car created by Frederick William Bremer who View the typical Victorian parlour and locally made vintage toys along with games. They hold a massive collection of historic photographs of the borough which are accessible via appointment. At the back of the building you will find an absolutely beautiful garden with benches if you want to sit down and relax. Check out the cute gift shop where you can buy pieces by local designer makers.
Fire Engine Shed: Opposite the Vestry House Museum you might notice a wooden garage door with a plaque. This used to house the fire engine.
Walthamstow Village Travel Information
The best way to reach Walthamstow Village is by travelling to Walthamstow Central which is on the Victoria Underground travelling northbound in zone 3. Or travelling to Walthamstow Central via the Overground line. There is also a large bus station here. The main road from the station is Hoe Street, cross over Hoe Street, head up St Mary Road, right into West Ave and left when you reach Orford Road. Or you can walk a little further down Hoe Street (heading right) until you come to Third Ave and it’s straight up there. There is also a train station called Walthamstow Queens Road which is operated by Network Rail and that is also close enough to walk.
Walthamstow Village Further Reading
My article scratches the surface of the rich history of this area. If you want to discover more you can view the following websites … For history information take a look at Wikipedia and the Walthamstow Village Residents’ Association Website which has a great history section. You can also download leaflets from the council detailing the conservation significance of the area. The Exploring East London Walthamstow Village section lists all the points of historical interest. To find out more about present day read Walthamstow Village Guide.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London. Thanks: Homeboy and Rich for exploring the area with me.