Located on the Greenwich Meridian, with River Lea to the west and Epping Forest to the east, Waltham Abbey offers the best of both worlds, with easy access to the hustle and bustle of London as well as large open waters, lakes, and stunning nature walks on your doorstep. The church that gave Waltham Abbey its namesake, was consecrated in 1060, around five years before Westminster Abbey. It is believed King Harold prayed at the church before the Battle of Hastings and according to legend, was brought back to be buried after dying in battle.
Although the abbey was lost when Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries, Waltham Abbey continued to thrive as a town, establishing itself as home to a range of industries, from manufacturing explosives at the gunpowder mills to growing fruit and vegetables for the people of London.
Today, Waltham Abbey is not only a great place to live and work, but is also a fantastic tourist destination. Take a look at some of the best things to do in Waltham Abbey, as recommended by The Self Storage Company.
Royal Gunpowder Mills
The Royal Gunpowder Mills in Waltham Abbey are one of the only places in the world associated with the manufacturing of explosives and the history of gunpowder. Gunpowder production began in the 1660s, and after the Crown acquired the mills in 1787, the area became an international centre for the industry.
There are 20 listed buildings to explore at the Royal Gunpowder mills and over 300 years of history, from being a major local employer for Waltham Abbey, to a leading factory for women workers during World War 2 and a top-secret research site during the Cold War.
Epping Forest District Museum
Located in a stunning Grade II listed Tudor building in Waltham Abbey, the Epping Forest District Museum explores the history of the people and events that shaped the Epping District. Discover changing exhibitions and amazing collections, from local paintings to a woolly mammoth tusk and the Waltham Abbey Bible dating to around 1200AD.
The Epping Forest District Museum also has a gallery space, a gift shop, and a range of activities, including information on activities and what’s on at Epping Forest.
Lee Valley White Water Centre
It’s been a decade since the London 2012 Olympic Games, but the Lee Valley White Water Centre remains in Waltham Abbey. Offering a wide range of watersports and activities, from white water rafting on the professional Olympic course to paddleboarding with your family on the lake, raft-building, or tackling the inflatable obstacle course.
The white water centre, between River Lee Navigation and the Small River Lea, is managed by Lee Valley Regional Authority and offers a fun-day out for families, corporate teams and school groups.
Waltham Abbey Gardens
Waltham Abbey Gardens offers a historic wall in a beautiful setting. Once the site of Augustian Abbey, founded by King Henry VII in 1177, some remains are still visible, including the Abbey gateway and chapter house walls.
Take a stroll through the peaceful rose gardens, enjoy a picnic by the water or visit the Abbey Farmhouse. Just over the Cornmill stream is Cornmill Meadow, home to a variety of wildlife.
Lee Valley Animal Adventure Park
Close to Fishers Green and the network of rivers and marshland is Lee Valley Animal Adventure Park in Waltham Abbey. The farm offers a fun-packed day out for families and children from London, Hertfordshire and Essex.
Discover a wide range of animals from reptiles to goats, feeding and petting sessions, adventure playgrounds, and events such as The Big Dinosaur Day Out and Kids Fest Summer Festival.