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Walthamstow area guide

Walthamstow E17

Area Guide

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Walthamstow Area Info

Walthamstow Area Info

Walthamstow, or ‘awesomestow’ as some of its younger residents like to call it (a phrase first coined by Grayson Perry when he had a studio here), is just 12 miles from central London, with Chingford to the north, Epping Forest to the east, Leytonstone to the south and Tottenham to the west.

An ancient, rural parish recorded in the Domesday Book as ‘Wilcumestou, a name that means ‘the place of welcome’, the Walthamstow of old began life as a manor owned by an anglo-saxon nobleman who ran it as a serfdom. In fact, 65 serfs are recorded living in the manor in 1086.

Such feudal practices would have been anathema to Walthamstow’s most famous son, the textile designer, poet, artist, printer and all round polymath, William Morris, whose socialist leanings are well documented. Indeed, head to Lloyd Park where you’ll find the grand Georgian home that he and his family once occupied and is now a museum celebrating his life as a political activist and his groundbreaking works.

Morris aside, many famous folk are associated with the town, with choreographer and dancer Matthew Bourne, actor Adam Woodyatt and TV presenter June Sarpong all born here, while famous alumni of Walthamstow Art College include musician Ian Dury and the directors Peter Greenaway and Ken Russell.

Over recent years, Walthamstow has become a destination in its own right, with many independent businesses employing local people now thriving in the area. However, for those who do have to commute into town, Walthamstow has excellent transport links, with Walthamstow Central and Blackhorse Road being at the end of the Victoria line, thus pretty much ensuring a seat even in rush hour. Meanwhile Wood Street, Walthamstow Central and St James Street all offer trains to Liverpool Street, while Blackhorse Road and Walthamstow Queen’s Road are on the London Overground Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Whereas once Walthamstow Village, otherwise known as Upper Walthamstow was deemed the place to live with its quaint almshouses and pretty cottages, today most of E17 is considered highly desirable. Properties are largely Edwardian and Victorian, plus Warner flats can be found throughout the town. New homes have sprung up fast and furiously in recent years and include several tower blocks and apartment complexes.

The change of pace has been such in Walthamstow that many of the older generation have retired to Essex, freeing up their homes for the young families eager to reside here. Young creatives are also drawn to the area, attracted by its thriving arts scene, which all feeds into the town’s youthful, vibrant vibe.

At primary level, the majority of Walthamstow’s schools are rated good or better. Among those deemed outstanding are Greenleaf, St Mary’s Church of England and Woodside. Good secondary schools include Walthamstow Academy and Willowfield while Walthamstow School for Girls is rated outstanding.

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History of Walthamstow

The borough of Waltham Forest, of which Walthamstow is the largest town, has more green spaces than any other borough north of the Thames. Walthamstow Wetlands lays claim to being Europe’s largest urban wetland nature reserve with more than 520 acres to explore. Meanwhile, Lee Valley boasts 10,000 acres of parkland and is made up of a diverse mix of countryside areas, urban green spaces, heritage sites, country parks, nature reserves and lakes and riverside trails. All this and that’s before even stepping a foot into nearby Epping Forest and all the delights that its 6,000 acres has to offer. You’ll also find plenty of parks here too, the most notable being Lloyd Park, which has a café, outdoor gym, tennis courts and play area.

Another claim to fame is that Walthamstow has the longest street market in Europe, running at one kilometre long and filled with food, clothes, home ware and much more besides. Meanwhile, you’ll find all the usual high street shops and chain stores at The Mall. For something a little different, however, head to the independents that have become synonymous with Walthamstow Village, but are now spreading beyond. Among our favourites are God’s Own Junkyard, an emporium for all things neon, Today Bakery, the temple of sour dough, Everything But The Dog, a vintage designer furniture store lovingly curated by founders Hannah and George and Bloom on the Block, a gorgeous florist with a fantastic selection of fresh and dried flowers.

The Bell is widely regarded as one of the best pubs in Walthamstow, and is well worth a visit after all that shopping. Pizzas, sharing plates and pub classics all make an appearance on the extensive menu of this all day venue, which you can wash down with a wide range of beverages both soft and alcoholic.

For the curious foodie, no trip to Walthamstow would be complete without a visit to Etles, the acclaimed Uyghur restaurant (one of very few in the country), serving traditional dishes from the Xinjiang region of China. However, Mexican, Italian, Spanish and burger bars abound here, with a special mention going to Yard Sale Pizza, where a slice is simply never enough!

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