Waltham Abbey is a unique and traditional market town full of character and charm and surrounded by heritage including 16th century timber-framed buildings and a fine 'Art Nouveau' Town Hall. It has impressive associations with Royalty including King Harold, Henry II and Henry VIII. Its charter as a market town was granted by Richard the Lionheart in 1189 and the impressive Waltham Abbey Church and gardens remains as a reminder of the monastic centre that once dominated the town, founded by King Harold in 1060. King Harold was reputedly buried in the grounds following his death at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The town centre is also home to the Epping Forest District Museum which has recently reopened after a major refurbishment and extension to its Grade II* listed Tudor building to improve facilities, displays and exhibition space.
Heritage continues beyond the town centre with the Royal Gunpowder Mills a short walk away. Set within 170 acres of natural parkland, the site is an important national industrial heritage landmark and a great place for families to spend days out exploring the secret history of gunpowder, explosives and rocket propellants through award-winning and engaging interactive exhibitions, science shows and children's activities. A programme of events throughout the year brings the history of the site alive with re-enactors, big bangs, art and science and fireworks. Also nearby, Copped Hall has historical connections with the first performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This fine mid-18th Century mansion is under restoration as are its extensive gardens, both of which are open to the public and are host to a range of cultural and community events.
Waltham Abbey sits alongside the Lee Valley Country Park with Gunpowder Park and Epping Forest on its doorstep. Ideal for walking and exploring, the surrounding countryside contains important habitat for birds and dragonflies. Families will enjoy Lee Valley Park Farms offering a chance to see and learn about animals or enjoy a tractor and trailer ride. For those with more active interests, the new Olympic White Water Centre sits just on the edge of town and the surrounding countryside offers fantastic opportunities for cycling and horse riding and is studded with golf courses.
To find out more about what’s on offer in Waltham Abbey and across the Epping Forest District, a Tourist Information Centre can be found on Highbridge Street just next to the Church. There you can discover more about the attractions across the town and district as well as where to stay and where to eat.
Map & Directions
Waltham Abbey is situated on the Essex border with Hertfordshire, along the eastern side of the River Lee and the Lee Valley just off junction 26 of the M25. It can also be reached via the A112 heading north from the North Circular Road and on the A121 either east from Waltham Cross or west from the Wake Arms roundabout in Epping Forest.
There is free parking at the Abbey Gardens car park and further limited stay and pay & display car parking in the town centre.
Public Transport Directions
The nearest station is Waltham Cross.
Buses operated by EOS (66) and Regal Busway (250/240) travel between Waltham Cross, Waltham Abbey, Loughton and Debden.
Buses operated by Arriva (251) travel between Waltham Abbey and Waltham Cross, Cheshunt and Flamstead End.
Waltham Cross bus station has connections to various other routes including into London via TfL.