Waltham Forest is a borough full of history and is as diverse as its residents, who have included David Beckham, Alfred Hitchcock, and William Morris. Let's not forget Fanny Craddock, Norman Tebbit, Iain Duncan-Smith, Derek Jacobi, Benjamin Disraeli, Damon Albarn and Brian Harvey. And if its former residents are not impressive enough, the first all-British powered flight took place on the Walthamstow Marshes in July 1909. Today the marshes are still an astonishing place and it is not uncommon to see cattle grazing as they watch the cyclists go by.
Surrounded by Redbridge, Enfield and Hackney, Waltham Forest has the best of both town and country with quick transport links into central London and walks through ancient woodland – historic Epping Forest, once a royal hunting ground, has walks for all ages and abilities. Those who prefer the great indoors can visit the newly refurbished William Morris Gallery which sits proudly overlooking Lloyd Park.
Budding historians will be impressed with Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge, just five minutes from Chingford train station. Built in 1543 for Henry VIII so his guests could view the royal hunt, the lodge is one of the few timber framed buildings surviving in London today.
Not to be outdone by its neighbour, Walthamstow Village, designated a conservation area in 1967, houses the Monoux Almshouses and the timber framed “Ancient House” which was restored in 1934. The Village also has one of the last remaining hexagonal Penfold pillar post boxes, a very nice sausage shop, and is home E17's Bacon Jam, the onion and bacon burger topping quietly becoming a national culinary craze.
The town hall on Forest Road is a fabulous example of classic 20th century art deco architecture. The coat of arms in the foundation stone is also a time capsule of keepsakes. Laid in 1938, the mementos from local people will show generations to come what life was like in the historic borough.
Waltham Forest is a borough of contrasts affording children a childhood of culture, diversity, history and woodlands – it's easy to see why parents are choosing this north-east London commuter hub as their home.