Walthamstow was once made up of a number of scattered hamlets, Church End, Chapel End, St James Street (and Marsh St), Higham Hill, and Hale End. Kings End, now Knotts Green or Leyton Green, was in the Walthamstow slip and is now in Leyton parish. For much of the 20th century the two main shopping centres of Walthamstow were the Wood Street and St James Street areas, but this changed with the arrival of the Victorial line at Hoe Street in 1968 and the creation of Walthamstow Central.

Until 1894 Walthamstow was a civil parish in the County of Essex
In 1894 it became an Urban District
In 1929 it became a Metropolitan Borough
In 1965 Walthamstow joined Leyton and Chingford to form the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
Waltham Forest Archives holds a complete series of minutes for the former Borough/District Councils, with earlier minutes for the Walthamstow Local Board.


1841-1911 Available on-line at subscription sites and FamilySearch
1811-1831 Available to view at Waltham forest Archives, with some searchable here

Cemeteries & Graveyards

St Mary's Church, Walthamstow, and St Peter's in the Forest have grave yards. Monumental Inscriptions and Burial Registers have been transcribed by WFFHS and are available to search on-line: Queen's Road Cemetery, was opened in 1872. Records are held at Chingford Mount Cemetery, and can be found on-line on Ancestry, though some pages are missing. Monumental Inscriptions have been transcribed by WFFHS and are also searchable on-line:

Church History

Walthamstow is an ancient parish with the church dedicated to St Mary. The church and graveyard are in a prominent position at the top of the hill. In 1844 three new parishes with new churches, St John's (built 1829), St Peter's, and St James', were created out of the parish. St Saviour's and St Stephen's were added the 1870s, further sub-dividing the parish, the mission church of St Gabriel in 1884 and St Michael & All Angels in 1885. Six more churches were built up to 1920.
Walthamstow 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.
  • Books in in the Local Studies Library: The Anglican Church in Walthamstow, by W.G.S.Tonkin (Walthamstow Antiquarian Society), 1963
  • British History On-line: Walthamstow

Church Records

The Diocesan repository for most of the Chelmsford Diocese records is the Essex Record office, however registers from the Waltham Forest Deanery are held at the Waltham Forest Archives. Many of these registers can be seen on-line on the Essex Record Office Parish Registers site.

  • St Andrew     WF/W83/4
  • St Barnabas     WF/W83/3 (D/P 523)
  • St Gabriel     WF/W83/6
  • St James     WF/W83/25 (D/P 522)
  • St John the Evangelist     WF/W83/2
  • St Luke     WF/W84/4
  • St Mary the Virgin     WF/W83/1
  • St Michael and All Angels     WF/W83/4 - St Paul was a mission church within this parish WF/W84/2
  • St Oswald     WF/W84/8 (D/P 524)
  • St Peter in the Forest     WF/W83/3 (D/P 501)
  • St Saviour     WF/W83/95
  • St Stephen     WF/W83/5
  • All Saints, Highams Park     WF/W83/8
Details of Waltham Forest Archives' holdings are listed here.

The Roman Catholic diocese was the Diocese of Westminster but has been in the Diocese of Brentwood, since it was established on 20th July 1917.

  • The chapel of St George in Shernhall street was erected in 1849. In 1901 a second much larger church was opened next to the chapel and was known as the Church of Our Blessed Lady and St George. In April 1993, the church was destroyed by fire. The rebuilt church was opened in 1996.
  • The chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary and St Patrick was built in 1908
  • In 1908 the church of Our Lady and St Patrick on the corner of Blackhorse Road and Southcote Road was opened.
  • The Church of Christ the King, beside the North Circular Road opened in 1932. It was moved back to make way for the widening of the North Circular.

St George's RC school was built in 1850 on land given by George Collard at the insistance of his wife, between Addison Road and Whipps Cross, in 1847.
In 1855 Cardinal Wiseman purchased a mansion and 3 acres of land on the corner of Shernhall Street and Church Lane, to found St Nicholas Industrial School for boys aged 9 to 14. This school was moved to Manor Park. Soon after, the need for the school in Walthamsow became appaerent, and it re-opened as St John's. St John's continued until 1907 when numbers had dwindled, and the remaining boys were sent to Manor Park. A school at Upton Park for boys aged 13-16 years had also dwindled in size, and was relocated to St John's later the same year. Need for the type of school had reduced further by 1928 and the school was closed.
In 1930 the St John's buildings became a hostel for the boys at St George's Central School in Raglan Road. The hostel was closed in 1937 and it became Holy Family College.
St Mary's Convent and Residential School opened in four and a half acres of land on the east side of Shernhall Street in 1867, in what was know as Walthamstow House.
In 1931 St Mary's Orphanage, Shernhall Street, was opened as a Junior Mixed school. The Senior children resident at St Mary's attended St George's school. The boys resident at Wiseman House also attended St George's.
St Helen's infant school closed in 2010 merging with St Mary's Junior School to create Our Lady & St George's Catholic Primary School on sites on the corner of Wyatt's Lane and Shernhall Street, and on Maynard Path, off Addison Road.

Non-conformist churches
The following are held at Waltham Forest Archives:

  • Fulbourne Road Baptist Church, Marriage register 1914-1982 W85.355
  • Greenleaf Road Baptist Church, Baptism register 1907-1912 W85.335
  • Marsh Street Congregational Church, copies of Baptism register 1788-1837, Burial register 1789-1835, and the original Marriage register 1914-1965 W85.211.
  • Spruce Hill Congregational Church, Brookscroft Road, Baptism register 1928-1944, Marriage register 1930-1938, register of burial services 1927-1938 W85.235.
  • High Street Methodist Church, deeds and premises records W85.125
  • Winchester Road Methodist Church, baptism certificate counterfoils, registers of members, meeting minutes, journals, youth club, Sunday school, photographs W85.165
  • Mathews Memorial Methodist Church, Penrhyn Crescent, meeting minutes and premises records W85.175
The following are held at the Essex Record Office:
  • Blackhorse Road Weslyan Methodist Church, marriages 1899 - 1940 D/NM 9/34
  • Church Hill Weslyan Methodist Church, marriages 1899 - 1944 D/NM 9/35
  • High Street Primitive Methodist Church, marriages 1907 - 1971 D/NM 9/36
  • Higham Hill Methodist Church, marriages 1958 - 1970 D/NM 9/38
  • Lloyd Park United Methodist Church, marriages 1923 - 1958 D/NM 9/37

Some Walthamstow Methodist church records are held by the Circuit for Shern Hall United Free Methodist, The Lighthouse (Markhouse Road), High Street Methodist, and Lloyd Park United Free Methodist.

Congregational churches which became part of the URC in 1972 come under the Presbytery of London North, the archives of which are held in the London Metropolitan Archives.

  • Wood Street Congregational Church, formed 1807 - LMA/4303/D/122 building plans, picture SC/GL/EFP/001, N/LCU/01/024/229 London Congregational Union records
  • Saint Columba's Presbyterian Church, Prospect Hill, 1898-1968 - LMA/4360 meetings, registers, finance & administration, LMA/4303/E/02/078 syllabi for literary association
  • Marsh Street - picture SC/GL/EFP/001/030, N/LCU/01/024/227 Congregational union records
  • Trinity and Spruce Hills Congregational - N/LCU/01/024/228 London Congregational Union records

Civil Registration

Walthamstow was in the following Registration Districts:
July 1837 until September 1935: West Ham
October 1935 until March 1965: Essex South Western
April 1965 onwards: Waltham Forest

Gazetteers & Directories

Pigot's, White's, and Kelly's Essex and London postal district directories all provide a description of a developing area from 1839 up to the second world war. Leyton was included in Stratford directories  1887-8, and Walthamstow directories 1889. From 1891 Kelly's published local street directories for Leyton & Leytonstone.
Guildhall Library:
1887-8 in the Stratford directory
1889-1907 (not 1890 or 1904) in the Walthamstow directory
1909-15, 1922-27, 1929, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39 Leyton & Leytonstone directory

Waltham Forest Local Studies Library:
Kelly's Leyton & Leytonstone directory 1886 - 1908
Shillinglaw's Walthamstow Directory 1882
Kelly's Essex directory 1868 - 1937 (but this is not a continuous run)
White's Essex Directory 1848, 1863
Pigot's London & Provincial Commercial Directory 1832-34
Kelly's Post Office London Directory 1970 - 1990

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.

Jewish Records

  • The Queens Road synagogue, the Leyton & Walthamstow New Federated Synagogue, was established in 1923. It merged with the Boundary Road synagogue to form the Waltham Forest Hebrew Congregation in 1968.
  • The Walthamstow and Leyton Synagogue was founded in 1902 Boundary Road, Walthamstow. By 1922 it had taken over the premises of the Boundary Road Baptish Church. The synagogue closed and merged with the Wanstead and Woodford United Synagogue in 2014.
  • The Highams Park and Chingford Synagogue was founded in 1932 in Castle Avenue, Walthamstow, and gaining its own premises in Marlborough Road, Walthamstow, in 1937.

All three synagogues are/were Ashkenazi Orthodox and affiliated to the United Synagogue which has cemeteries at East Ham, West Ham, and Waltham Abbey among other locations. Burials may be searched on the United Synagogue web site.


Medical Officer of Health reports for Walthamstow can be found in Waltham Forest Archives 1893 to 1964.
Waltham Forest Medical Officer of Health reports may also be found in Waltham Forest Archives 1965 to 1972.
These may also be seen on-line in the Wellcome Trust Library from 1902.
Walthamstow Dispensary: reports and resolutions 1836-1913, reports 1895-1900 W.21, W.34
Walthamstow Infectious Diseases (or Isolation) Hospital: ‘The story of a nurse’ pamphlet 1946 W34.5
In 1877 a cottage hospital was founded in a house in North Road, off Wood Street. In 1895 the hospital moved to "Holmcroft" in Orford Road, and became known as Connaught Hospital, after the Duke of Connaught, it's patron.
The Leyton and Walthamstow Hospital Home for children in Salisbury Road was establishd in 1877. It became the Connaught Hospital in 1928.
Thorpe Coombe Hospital maternity hospital opened in 1934, using a house which had been owned by Octavius Wigram. It ceased maternity facilities in 1973 and was used as a nurses' home for a while. A trainee nurse register can be found in SBU archives under GB 2110 RCHS/1/6.


Walthamstow was a member of the Becontree Hundred



  • Essex maps on Rootsweb.
  • Copies of Tithe Maps are available in the Essex Record Office
  • National Library of Scotland maps
  • British History
  • John Roque's map of London & environs 1746 at WF Local Studies Library
  • Chapman & Andre's map of Essex 1777 at WF Local Studies Library
  • Local Ordnance survey maps 1860s to 1993 at WF Local Studies Library
  • Coe's map of Walthamstow, 1822 at WF Local Studies Library


  • Walthamstow Chronicle 1872 - 1876 at WF Local Studies Library
  • Walthamstow & Leyton Herald 1892 - present at WF Local Studies Library
  • Walthamstow & Leyton Guardian 1876 - 1899 at WF Local Studies Library
  • District Times 1901 - 1914 at WF Local Studies Library
  • Walthamstow Post 1950 - 1961 at WF Local Studies Library
  • Walthamstow Recorder 1903 - 1906 at WF Local Studies Library
  • Walthamstow Reporter 1894 - 1903 at WF Local Studies Library
  • Walthamstow Reporter & Gazette 1904 - 1908 at WF Local Studies Library
  • Walthamstow Socialist Critic 1900 - 1901 at WF Local Studies Library
  • Walthamstow Weekly 1813 at WF Local Studies Library
  • 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


Poor Houses, Poor law etc.

Walthamstow parish had a workhouse on Hoe Street from 1726 in temporary premesis. this was replaced in 1730 by a premisis on Church Common, today the site of Vestry House Museum
Walthamstow joined the West Ham Poor Law Union, formed in 1836. The union workhouse was located in Union Road, Leytonstone, now Langthorne Road. An infirmary was opened at Whipps Cross in 1903.
Most records for the poor law union are held by Newham Archives, however some admissions registers, printed reports and accounts are held by Waltham Forest Archives. Further details can be found on www.workhouses.org.uk
WFFHS has a transcription of the Women's admission registers for Central Home Leytonstone 1929-1959.
Baptisms which took place at the workhouse, presumably in the chapel, were entered in the registers of Holy Trinity, Leytonstone as were those for The Home of the Good Shepherd, this being the ecclesiastical parish they were in.
Burials for residents may have taken place at St Mary, Walthamstow but also at West Ham Cemetery, opened in 1857, and Queens Road Cemetery, opened 1872. The St Mary's burial registers are held at Waltham Forest Archives. They have been transcribed and may be searched. West Ham Cemetery registers are held at the cemetery, and have been digitised by Deceased Online.
Walthamstow Workhouse records including minutes

Registers of Electors

Available to search in Waltham Forest Local Studies Library:
  • 1906 - 1915
  • 1918, 1921
  • 1932 - 1939
  • 1946 - 1964
  • 1966 onwards


  • Electricity: Walthamstow power station was opened in September 1901, on two acres of land adjacent to Hoe Street station. Although Leyton had it's own power station, this power station also supplied Leyton. In 1947 it was transferred from the Council to the control of London Electricity Board. It closed in March 1968. Archive holdings are under LMA/4278/01-14 at the London Metropolitan Archives.
  • Telephone: In 1897 the National Telephone opened the first exchange in Walthamstow at 10 Priory Avenue. There were public call offices at the exchange and premises of Messers C.M.Hinton, tobacconists, in Leyton High Road and Hoe Street. In 1912 the telephone service was taken over by the Post Office. There were 552 subscribers in Walthamstow.
  • Fire: In 1895 the fire station opened in the High Street. The engine had previously been housed in a shed in Vestry Road.
  • Water: In the 1850s the East London Water Works Company came into the area, taking over the Copper Mill which had closed a year earlier. It set up filter beds at Lea Bridge. The aquaduct had been constructed across the marshed to take water to the filter beds in 1854.
  • Gas: A gas company was set up nearby in 1856, foreshadowing the possibility of street lighting. In 1876 the Lighting Committee entered into an agreement with the Lea Bridge Gas Company for about 1220 lamps in the parts of the parish where the company already had pipes.
  • Police: In 1819 the Vestry set up a Patrol and Watch Committee. This was supported by a levy on parishioners. A lock-up was build at Vestry House. Walthamstow was transferred to the Metropolitan Police area in 1840, and the Police force replaced the Watch.


Trams were run from Lea Bridge to Whipps Cross from 1883 using ten cars. In 1889, an new company took over, and the line was extended to the Rising Sun. The Walthamstow Board had resisted a service up Hoe Street such that (electric) trams were not introduced until 1903. Between 1904 and 1905 electric trams replaced horse drawn trams. The tramways were under the control of Walthamstow Council until 1933. At it's peak, 52 tram cars ran on 8½ miles of track. In 1933 the London Passenger Transport Board took over operations. The last tram ran on 12th June 1937. The tram garage was on the site of what is now Outram Way, with the Walthamstow Urban District Council tramway office building still standing at the entrance. The garage features in an Acorn Films production covering an open day celebrating 75 years of the garage.
The Railway made it to Walthamstow in 1870 with stations at St James Street, Hoe Street, and temporarily at Shern Hall Street. In 1873 the line was extended to Chingford at Kings Road (Bull Lane). Shern Hall Street station was closed and intermediate stations opened at Wood Street and Hale End (now Highams Park).