Thursday, 1 September 2011

Walthamstow - a London village

Walthamstow goes art crazy this week as the E17 Art Trail gets under way tomorrow. The trail is a two-week frenzy of art and photography exhibitions and live events, with the emphasis firmly on the visual arts. So where is Walthamstow and why would you want to go there?
Only 20 minutes from Euston on the Victoria Line - when it's working - none the less most Londoners have never visited the place, or only on the way to the M11 or Stansted Airport. This is one of London's villages, more of a town in reality, separated from Hackney and Tottenham by the string of reservoirs and waterways of the Lea Valley to the west, and coming up against Epping Forest to the east. So the first thing going for the place is that it's surrounded by open semi-wild spaces. Then there's the mile-long street market with its pavement cafes and ethnic restaurants, the Village with its old church and old houses, and a couple of serious museums: the Vestry House in the Village, and William Morris's house on Forest Road. Walthamstow was once full of market gardens and the country estates of rich City merchants, and some of their big houses survive, like Morris's, now used as flats and offices. Then there are the hundreds of streets of two-storey terraced houses, giving the area its characteristic low-rise look. There are some interesting districts built by the Warner Estate, cheaply built but with unusual decorative brick details, and many of them still painted in the trademark green and cream colour scheme.

The Art Trail is the perfect excuse for an excursion out east.

More tomorrow... and see the Art Trail blog for day by day news and reviews.

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