Waltham Holy Cross, or Waltham Abbey

The parish includes the hamlets of Holyfield, High Beach, and Upshire. The latter two became more significant in the 19th century and gained their own churches and eventually ecclesiastical parishes.
Waltham Holy Cross was a parish of that name.
It formed a local board of health in 1850.
It became an Urban District in 1894.
Part of the parish was transferred to Chingford in 1939.
It became part of the Epping Forest District of Essex in 1974.
Waltham Holy Cross was renamed Waltham Abbey on 1st April 1974 by section 13(6) of the The Local Authorities etc. (Miscellaneous Provision) (No. 2) Order 1974.


1841-1911 Available on-line at subscription sites (free in Waltham Forest and Essex libraries) and FamilySearch
  • 1841: HO107/341
  • 1851: HO107/1704
  • 1861: RG9/801
  • 1871: RG10/1346
  • 1881: RG11/1396
  • 1891: RG12/1090
  • 1901: RG13/1276
  • 1911: RG14/7450 (classified as Middlesex on Ancestry)
A valuation of 1825 give some detail of properties and occupants. This is at the ERO D/DHf B29
A valuation of 1840 and tithe map of 1842 also give information.

Cemeteries & Grave yards.

  • St Lawrence & Holy Cross Church has a grave yard, now closed. Some Burial Registers have been transcribed by WFFHS which are available to search on-line.
  • A cemetery was opened on three acres of ground on the west side of Sewardstone Road in January 1857. By 1885 the burial board were looking to extend it westwards. In 1925 it was extended on the east side of the road to provide another four acres of space.
  • Waltham Abbey Jewish Cemetery, opened in 1960, can be found in Skillet Hill (Honey Lane), and is run by the United Synagogue. There is a grave search feature on their web site.
  • Paradise Row Baptist Church had a burial ground which was in use from around 1770 until closed by the Burial Act of 1854. The burial register 1845-1857, grave book and burial register 1836-1837 are in the Waltham Forest Archives [W85.211]. Death and burial registers 1770 to 1856 surrendered to the non-parochial registers commissions are in the National Archives under RG4/778, 1383, 2291, 2292, 4142
  • The Quakers buried their dead behind their meeting house in Quaker Lane from 1672, but no records specific to that ground are known to exist. Records of births, marriages, and deaths can be found in RG6 under Waltham Abbey and Tottenham Monthly Meetings from 1658.

Church History

Waltham Holy Cross is a large ecclesiastical parish. A church dedicated to St Paul was erected at High Beach 1836 and a separate parish created the following year. Only nine years after it was built, the church was already closed undergoing repairs. By 1869 the state of St Paul's was such that the vicar and wardens were already planning its replacement and in the 1873 a new church was built, paid for by Thomas Baring nd dedicated to the Holy Innocents. A church was built at Upshire in 1901 for Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton. Services had previously been held in the school at nearby Copped Hall Green from about 1870. The church remained in the parish of teh Holy Cross until 1956 when it was joined to High Beach an dbecame a parish church. In the early 20th century services were held on Sunday afternoons and evenings in the Sewardstone school room, but no church has been built there
Waltham Holy Cross was in the Diocese of London until 1846, the Diocese of Rochester until 4th May 1877, the Diocese of St Albans until 23rd Jan 1914, and is now in Diocese of Chelmsford.
The Diocesan repository for most of the Chelmsford Diocese records is the Essex Record office.

The Roman Catholic diocese was the Diocese of Westminster but is now in the Diocese of Brentwood, since it was established on 20th July 1917. The church of St Thomas More and St Edward in Sewardstone Road, was opened in 1951.

British History Online: Churches: Waltham Abbey

Church Records

The following registers are in the Essex Record Office and on-line on their web site.
  • St Lawrence & Holy Cross (parish Church)
  • Holy Innocents, High Beach
  • St Thomas, Upshire

Paradise Row Baptist Church began in 1729. The chapel was re-built in 1836
Fountain Place Baptist (Ebenezer) built 1868. The Strict Baptist Historical Society has some records of members this chapel.
The Wesleyan Methodist chapel, Sewardstone Road, was built in 1903 to replace one of 1824. This was on the Waltham Abbey and Hertford Methodist Circuit, NM10F in Hertfordshire Archives, D/NM 9/33 for marriages in the essex Record Office
Salvation Army hall, Sewardstone Street
Waltham Abbey Historical Society has a publication on the Baptist Church in Waltham Abbey.

Civil Registration

Waltham Holy Cross was in the following Registration Districts:
July 1837 until June 1939: Enfield
July 1939 until March 1974: Epping
The parish then became known as Waltham Abbey
April 1974 onwards: Epping Forest

Gazetteers & Directories

Pigot's, White's, and Kelly's Essex and London postal district directories all provide a description of the area from 1839 up to the second world war.

Waltham Forest Local Studies Library:
Kelly's Essex Directory 1870 - 1937 with gaps
White's Essex Directory 1848, 1863
Pigot's London & Provincial Commercial Directory 1832-34

Kelly's Essex directories may also be found in:
Valence Library: 1862, 1874, 1878, 1894, 1908 (MF), 1926, 1922, 1929 (& Herts), 1937
Romford Library: 1878, 1882, 1886, 1890, 1899, 1904 (& Norfk & Sufk), 1906, 1910, 1912, 1922, 1926, 1929, 1933, 1937
Ilford Central Library: 1855 (& Herts), 1866, 1878, 1882, 1886, 1890, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1899, 1902, 1906, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1917, 1922, 1926, 1929, 1933, 1937
Some of these directories are searchable in the Leicester University Historical Durectories Collection.

Guildhall Library: Bailey's British Directory, 1784 Directories for 1845, 1848, 1851, 1855, 1859, 1862-3, 1866, 1870, 1886, 1890, 1894-5, 1899, 1902, 1906, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1917, 1922, 1926, 1929, 1933, 1937.


Medical Officer of Health reports for Waltham Holy Cross can be found in the Essex Record Office 1963, 1964-69, 1971-72, under document reference D/UWm Hm3.
MOH reports for 1898, 1925, and 1937-1972 are in the posession of the Wellcome Library in a closed stack.
The Royal Society of Medicine Library has MOH reports for 1955-1961 and 1963.


Waltham Holy Cross was a member of the Waltham Hundred of Essex


The National Archives have produced a research guide on manorial records. Some records will be found in the ERO, but the Manorial Documents Register (MDR) is the official index to English and Welsh manorial records.



  • Waltham Abbey & Cheshunt Weekly Telegraph available on British Newspaper Archive 1883-1896
  • Essex Newsman available on British Newspaper Archive 1870-1950
  • Essex Standard available on British Newspaper Archive 1831-1900
  • Essex Herald available on British Newspaper Archive 1828-1899
  • Epping Forest Guardian archive 1998 to 2006
In 2012 the following were available at the Waltham Abbey Museum. They are now stored and can be viewed at the Essex Record Office in Chelmsford:
  • Epping Forest Independent 1990 - 2002
  • Express and Independent 1933 - 1972
  • West Essex Gazette and Guardian, Epping Edition 1966-2002 (some missing from 1985)
  • Waltham Abbey West Essex Gazette and Independent 1974-1997
  • Waltham Abbey Guardian 1998-2002
  • Weekly Telegraph for Waltham Abbey, Cheshunt and District Loughton 1945, 1947, 1949-56, 1961-63, 1965-71


Poor Houses & Poor law

Waltham Holy Cross leased a building as a workhouse near the Green Yard. A map of 1826 shows it as using two pieces of land behind what is now 2-9 Greenyard. The parish workhouse was soon closed when Waltham Holy Cross joined the Edmonton Poor Law Union, formed in 1837.
Further details can be found on www.workhouses.org.uk

Registers of Electors

Registers up to 1970 are available to search at the Essex Record Office and registers for 1918 and 1929 are on-line.
Waltham Holy Cross was in the:
Southern division of Essex 1833-1835
South Essex 1845-1849
Western Division of Essex 1870
Epping electoral division 1919-1926
Epping constituency 1927-1974
Epping Forest Constituency from 1974


  • Gas: The Waltham Abbey and Cheshunt Gas & Coke Co existed in 1911. The town was lit with gas from works in Waltham Cross erected in 1869.
  • Water: Water was suppllied by the East London Water Works Co. from a pumping station erected in 1887.
  • Sewerage: A sewage workd was built in 1872 at Townmead.


The nearest Railway station is at Waltham Cross. The first station was opened on the North and Eastern Railway in 1840, originally called Waltham.
The Chingford Line reached it's current terminus 1878, however this was not it's intended terminus. The intention had been to continue the line to High Beech, in Waltham Abbey parish. Attempts were made to gain authrity to extend the line through the forest, in 1873 and 1883, but these failed to gain approval. In the end it only got as far as the present Chingford station, built for through traffic.
The 1883 proposal was to head westward from Chingford and skirt the forest. It was suggested that the land being open would not be much degraded by a railway to High Beech. It would have gone via Hawkwood, Sewardstone, Lippitts Hill and Pynest Green to High Beech.
In 1894 another attempt was made for permission to build a railway, this time from Findbury, through Hoxton, Shoreditch, Kingsland, Hackney and upper Clapton, then southward through Walthamstow and Leyton to Chapel End and Chingford. After this it would skirt Eppoing Forest and terminate at High Beech. This also did not come to fruition.
In 1905 the North East London Railway were granted powers to construct a line partly in tubes and partly over-ground from the City (Monument) to Waltham Abbey. By 1910, this had not taken place.