Another in the occasional series on historic sites on the “Capital Ring” walk …
Walthamstow was first recorded in c. 1075 as Wilcumestowe, from the Old English “wilcuma”, meaning “welcoming”, and “stow”, “holy place”. In the Medieval and post-Medieval periods, its rural location some seven miles remote from the City of London made it an attractive place for wealthy merchants to escape or retire to. The area only began to become densely built up in the nineteenth century. It is now part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
The fifteenth-century “Ancient House” stands there still, in the picturesque secluded enclave of Walthamstow Village, alongside the sixteenth-century Monoux Alms-Houses, built by the sometime Master of the Drapers’ Company and Lord Mayor of London George Monoux, and the eleventh- or twelfth- century church of St Mary.
Church of St Mary
The church of St Mary was probably originally built sometime around the turn of the eleventh and twelfth centuries (it is not recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, although it is in a conveyance of 1108, indicating its then ownership by Holy Trinity Priory in Aldgate). It was subsequently substantially remodelled in the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries, when the north and south aisles were added; in the fifteenth, when the chancel was extended, and the tower added; and in the sixteenth, when the tower was lowered, and chapels added at the east ends of aisles, by the aforementioned George Monoux and by Robert Thorne. And it has been further much modified from the eighteenth century onwards. The oldest parts that still survive date to the thirteenth-century rebuild. The oldest memorial purportedly dates back to the fifteenth century.
There are believed to be large numbers of burials in the churchyard from both the Black Death of 1348-49 and the Great Plague of 1665.