Site unseen: The Ancient House, Walthamstow

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Some parts of London are fashionable, others are unfashionable. The unfashionable can be divided into two. There are the fashionably unfashionable - Kennington, Brixton, Tufnell Park, Limehouse - and the unfashionably unfashionable.

Walthamstow is very definitely in the last category. No matter that it has the Victoria Line, the longest street market in Europe (where Alan Sugar began to wheel and deal), Georgian William Morris House, a celebrated dog track and access to wonderful Epping Forest - Walthamstow is simply 'beyond the pale'.

In one episode of Yes, Minister, Sir Humphrey Appleby threatens to banish a recalcitrant underling to Walthamstow, the civil service's version of Siberia.

At dinner parties, to admit to living in Walthamstow is an instant conversation-stopper. I know, because I lived in Walthamstow for several years.

But when you asked people if they had ever been to Walthamstow the answer was invariably 'no'.

So they have never seen this 15th-century house which slumbers peacefully in the village (yes, Walthamstow also has a village). Called 'The Ancient House', this timber-framed building originally comprised a central hall with two wings filled with wattle and daub.

The house was sensitively restored in 1934 when the wattle and daub was replaced by small red bricks but the hall and wings were otherwise left untouched. Even more sensitively, the road outside has been restricted to one-way traffic to protect the building.

The pavement has also been widened, allowing those in the know the opportunity to marvel at this medieval gem. As only a handful of aficionados know about the Ancient House, it is a cast-iron certainty that you will have the pavement to yourself - which would not be the case if it was in Hampstead, Highgate or Chelsea.

I could go on about the pleasures which abound in Walthamstow Village - the old almshouses, the Georgian Vestry House which is now a museum, the school built in 1819 - but I won't.

It would be a shame to find the pavements of Walthamstow Village full of Sir Humphrey Applebys. Let him remain in ignorant bliss.

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