Open House Festival

St. Mary's Church, Walthamstow Village

religious, walk/tour, cemetery

Unknown, 1108

Church End (top of Church Hill), Walthamstow, E17 9RJ

Grade II* listed church dating from 12C with Medieval, Tudor, Georgian & Victorian features. 16C Tower. Church refurbishment and new extension in progress in 2022. Over 1300 monuments with four Grade II listed tombs in churchyard.

Getting there


Walthamstow Central


Walthamstow Central, Walthamstow Queens Road, Wood Street


212, W12, W16

Additional travel info

9 min walk from Walthamstow Central. Local CPZs in operation [North of church Sat and Sun. South of the church, Sat only]. Bus route 212 stops 2 minutes from Church. Two disabled parking spaces in church car park. No free parking available on site. There are very limited paid (Just Park) spaces at St Mary's Welcome Centre, 8 Church End, E17 9RJ.



Accessibility notes

Ground floor of main church building and new extension fully accessible. Due to the steep spiral stair case in the tower, the tower tours are not suitable for those with mobility issues.



St Mary’s Church started as a 12th C Norman building, built around 1108 as a manorial church by Ralph de Toni, son of the standard bearer of William the Conqueror. The oldest building in the borough, it stands at the heart of the first conservation area in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, Walthamstow Village. For over 900 years, the church has been at the centre of faith and community in Walthamstow. Every generation has updated the interior to suit the changing needs of the Church.

The Churchyard which surrounds the building encloses three and one-third acres. There are approximately 26,000 burials; 16,000 since the mid 18th C are recorded in the registers. There are over 1300 monuments, including four Grade II listed tombs, with the oldest legible monument dated 1710.

Notable Monuments and Memorials

There are five brasses, one 15th C and the remainder from the 16th C. Mounted on a column, one of these is a fine brass memorial to Sir George Monoux (died 1543) and his wife, Dame Mary. He was a significant benefactor of the church and local community, where adjacent almshouses and a nearby local sixth form college still bear his name. There are also two palimpsest brasses.
The earliest stone monument was erected in 1601 by Sir Edward Stanley in memory of his wife, Lady Lucy. The sculptor is thought to be William Cure II, later Master Mason to King James I.
The Merry monument of 1633 was intended by Sir Thomas Merry (a prominent Royalist) as a joint memorial to his wife
and himself; the sculptor was Nicholas Stone, Master
Mason to King Charles I, and the verses are said to have been written by Sir William Davenant the Royalist poet.
The Trafford monument, erected in 1689, is the largest and most imposing monument in the church and is in the style of Grinling Gibbons.
Designed by James Humphries Hogan, the five lancet East Window, a memorial to Sydney Harris, dates from 1939 and is the work of James Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Glassworks.

The four Grade II listed tombs are: Wise (1710), Rigg (1754), Solly (1776) and Morley Wilson (1819). There are twelve Commonwealth War Grave Commission graves across the site. Many other fine and interesting monuments are to be found.


The stories of people buried here across several centuries reflect the changing nature of society in Walthamstow; from rural Essex village to a place where City merchants and wealthy businessmen had their country residences.

Samuel Pepys is known to have attended services at St Mary's on two occasions and to have drunk ale with Sir Wm Penn and Sir Wm Batten at the church stile in the churchyard.

Rev William Wilson, vicar 1822-1848, a pioneer of infant education, erected the first purpose built C of E Infants' School in the England on glebe land opposite the church in 1828.

William Morris, the founder of the Arts & Crafts Movement was baptised in the marble font in 1834.

Churchyard Biodiversity

The churchyard is the second largest enclosed green space in the local area; many people used it as a place of refuge and peace during the Covid pandemic. The churchyard is being managed to be a haven for wildlife and biodiversity and in 2021 was awarded a Silver-Gilt in the Churchyard category of London In Bloom.

2022 Refurbishment and Extension

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, work on renovating the ancient building began in 2021 and was completed in December 2022. This has regenerated Walthamstow’s oldest building, making it not only a living church, but also a place for the community to gather every day of the week, not just on a Sunday. The changes to the building include an extension which created an additional entrance, a parish office, café, exhibition space and additional toilets. Outside, the car park has been turned into a landscaped public area for pedestrians to enjoy.

In the church itself, the pews have been removed, and have been replaced with flexible cathedral-style seating which will increase the number and variety of activities that can take place. A new kitchen/café was installed with a serving window for outside customers. The old entrance has been preserved and there is now a new glass door which allows more light through and is open in the day for visitors.

Important Additional Information for those booking a Tower Tour

1) Tower Tours are weather dependent and may be adapted at short notice if it is wet or windy.
2) Health and Safety Disclaimer: Due to the steep spiral staircase, we regret this event is not suitable for those with limited mobility and/or pre existing heart/breathing conditions.
3) Please wear suitable footwear; only flat shoes will be allowed on the roof.
4) Children must be aged 10 years of age or older.
5) Dogs are not allowed.

Arrival time for Tower Tours, Heritage Trails and Architect Tours

Please note the tours and trails will start at the stated time.

Please arrive 10 minutes before the scheduled start time to be checked in.

You do NOT need to bring a print out of your booking.

If for any reason you cannot attend, please cancel your booking to allow others to take the place. Thank you.

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