A Walk Down Memory Lane: Walthamstow Fascinating History, and Five Fast-facts You Didn’t Know.
Walthamstow is a large, lively town about an hour from Central London, famously known as the last stop on the Victoria tube line.
Once a large rural undeveloped piece of land, Walthamstow has undergone massive regeneration over the years and is now awash with fast food joints, hip cafes, retail stores, art galleries, and numerous urban developments’ wherever you turn. At the same time, the area pays homage to its past thanks to the preservation of notable historical landmarks such as Walthamstow Village and the Lighthouse Methodist Church.
Read on for more insights on Walthamstow’s history and some fast facts you didn’t know about the town.
The History of Walthamstow
Walthamstow is recorded in Domesday Book as four forest-cleared settlements connected via tracks. It is referred to as Wilcumestou, which is old English for the place of welcome. The land belonged to an Anglo-Saxon early but was passed down to his wife, Countess Judith, after his execution for plotting against the king.
The manor was then passed on to a norman nobleman known as Ralph de Toni through his marriage to Alice, the former countess’s daughter. After his death, Alice passed on the manor’s ownership to the Priors of the Holy Trinity in Aldgate. The area remained a rural farming community with most of its population centered along the Church End area. However, the arrival of the railway during the 19th century saw Walthamstow’s population increase tenfold, and as London’s expansion continued, Walthamstow also slowly transformed into a residential area with speculative buildings.
Much of the area was unfortunately damaged in the Blitz, but like most East End towns, this spurred the regeneration of Walthamstow, and by the end of the 20th century, it was a buzzy area with high-rise apartments and building complexes. It has undergone even more significant development in recent years and is now a trendy town with vibes similar to Shoreditch.
Three Fast Facts about Walthamstow
Here are three fast facts you probably didn’t know about Walthamstow:
1. It wasn’t always in the London Borough of Waltham Forest
Walthamstow was initially part of the Municipal borough of Essex. Amalgamation with the municipal boroughs of Chingford, Leyton, and Waltham Forest saw it become incorporated into its current London Borough.
2. It Lays Claim to the Longest Outdoor Market in the Continent
Walthamstow market is the longest outdoor market not just in the UK, but in Europe. The 19th-century street occupies about 100metres of Walthamstow’s high street and is also among the oldest, dating to 1885.
1. It’s Home to the Country’s Biggest Urban Nature Reserve
At 520-acres, The Walthamstow Wetlands is the country’s largest urban nature reserve. The reserve was opened in 2017 on a 150-year old site and features a footpath, cycle tracks, a visitor center, a café, and numerous other amenities that make it a pleasant rural escape.
Whether you live in another area in East End and are just here for a day’s visit or live further away and staying for a few days, Walthamstow is an amazing town with something for everyone. Walthamstow’s brief history and fast-facts above will not only help you familiarize yourself with the town, but they’ll also make your visit more interesting.