|A Walthamstow Walk
Route & what to see
A walk around the conservation areas of Walthamstow Village and Orford Road extended to Lloyd Park and the William Morris Gallery via civic buildings.
Begin at Walthamstow Central
Station (National Rail or Victoria line).
The station, opened by the Great Eastern Railway in 1870, was originally called Hoe Street. The Victoria line was extended to Walthamstow in 1968.
Exit into Selbourne Road and
go right. Cross the main road into St Mary Road which becomes a
On the right is the former Vestry House, built in 1730. An extension accommodated the parish workhouse (until the 1830s) later becoming a police station (until 1870), armoury (until 1891) then builder's yard (until 1933). After the Vestry successors, the Local Board, moved to Orford Road in the 1870s the vestry house was used by the Walthamstow Literary & Scientific Institute (1882-92) after which it became a private house. The last owner leased it to the local council in 1930 to house a local museum. In 2001 the garden, originally used by the workhouse, was bought back into use and 3 cottages on the site were redesigned as an extension to the museum. It is open Wed - Sun 10-5 and admission is free. Outside is a capital from Smirke's GPO building in the City (demolished in 1912). Opposite the museum is the former National School, built in 1819 for 200 pupils. It was enlarged in 1825 and used until 1906. It remained in use as a Sunday School and parish rooms until 1920 when it was sold to the Senior Scouts Association. It has been a National Spiritualist Church since 1928. Adjacent is a building which housed the fire engine (see plaque). Across from this are Squires Almshouses built in 1795 for six poor widows of the parish (see plaque). The building was modernised internally in the late 20th century and now houses four almspeople.
Go right along Vestry Road
The road crosses the railway then on the left is number 5, the former school house of 1866 in Jacobean style by William Wittington. Beyond this is the former Post Office Sorting Office built in 1903 and decorated with terracotta and Dutch gables. The playground opposite was sited on part of Church Common.
At the end of the road turn
left along East Avenue to Orford Road
On the opposite corner is Orford House, an early 19th century neo-classical villa, originally the home of John Cass.
Go left along Orford Road
These were the principle shops in the Victorian era. Notice the attractive fascia of the Eden Road corner shop.
Go right into Eden Road
This was developed by the Local Board of Health in 1862 and has examples of 'model cottages' which cost £12 - £19 !
Return to Orford Road
Opposite is the former National School, built in 1866 to supplement the school already seen. From 1949-1977 the buildings housed the pathology department of the Connaught Hospital and it is now used as the Asian Centre. Along from this is the Italianate Old Town Hall of 1876, extended in 1890-1. This was added to the front of a public hall of 1866 which was replaced by housing in 1994. With the opening of the new Town Hall in 1941 the building became an office for the Ministry of Food, part of the Connaught Hospital (1959-77) then Waltham Forest College (to 1986).
Follow Orford Road round to
the left crossing the railway again
The Nag's Head is a Victorian rebuild of an earlier inn. At the corner with Church Lane is the Ancient House. This 15th century timber framed 'Hall' house had shop fronts added in the 19th century. It has undergone restoration. Number 10 Church Lane is a detatched late Georgian house with outbuildings (c1830) occupied by the builder Anthony Storey Reed. Opposte is a listed example of a Penfold Hexagonal postbox (notice the small slot).
Go towards the church.
St Marys is an ancient foundation which has undergone many changes. It was granted to Holy Trinity Priory in Aldgate until the Reformation. Opposite is the Welcome Centre, formerly an infants school built in 1828. The graveyard in front has several grand tombs indicating Walthamstow's properous past. It was also the site of mass burials for the Black Death and Plague.
Right along Vinegar Alley
The Monoux Almshouses and Grammar School were founded in 1527 by George Monoux, a city merchant and Lord Mayor. The west range provided 6 single rooms with a schoolroom above. The cross wing housed the schoolmaster, parish clerk & alms priest and the east range provided 7 more rooms. The eastern end was rebuilt in 1730 and the western end in 1955, following WWII bomb damage. The accommodation was extended and modernised in the 1990s.
Left at Shernall Street
The Holy Family Technology College occupies buildings of St Johns RC Boys Industrial Schools of 1875. The white building next door was Shales Ice Cream Factory. The Lord Brooke pub opposite was built c1900. Further along are more buildings of the college including the 18th century Walthamstow House. This was enlarged for shipowner and MP Sir Robert Wigram in 1782 as he had 23 children! It was used by St Marys Convent and as a girls orphanage 1885-1982. One of Sir Roberts sons lived at Thorpe Coombe House further along. This was used as a maternity hospital 1919-73.
Left at Forest Road
Waltham Forest College was built as SW Essex Technical College and School of Art in 1938. Brookscroft (c 1762) was another Wigram house, now converted to flats. The Assembly Hall, completed in 1943, has a war memorial to the south. A competition to design the Civic Centre group was won by PD Hepworth in 1932 but by the time work started in 1937 the plans had been simplified and building was further limited by wartime restrictions. The Town Hall is faced in Portland Stone and the council chamber has figures of Fellowship (based on William Morris), Motherhood, Work, Recreation and Education by John F Kavanagh. It was used as an ARP centre during WWII and has a Cold War shelter in the basement. The Court House was not built until 1972-3. There are five courts on the first floor with natural lighting.
along Farnan Avenue, continuing along Chingford Road. Left at
Evesham Avenue. Cross Aveling Park Road into Lloyd Park.
These are the former grounds of Water House, now a public park. Water House was the home of William Morris 1848-56 and now houses the William Morris Gallery (free admission).
Return to the station via Gaywood Road and Hoe Street or take W3 bus.
This walk can also be extended with my 3½ mile linear route which finishes at Stamford Hill (national rail or buses). [details]
© london-footprints.co.uk 2013
Leaflets and information on the area available at or from Vestry House Museum E17 9NH. Tel 020 8509 1917
Walthamstow Historical Society [website]
A walk around Walthamstow is included in 'Village London' by Andrew Duncan
Buildings of England London 5: East by Cherry, O'Brien & Pevnser
Exploring East London - [Walthamstow Village]
Friends of Lloyd Park [website]
[booklist] [places to visit] [almshouses] [walks list]